Tag Archives: savior

He Restores My Soul

Survival

Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt. Not sure how to participate? Here are the steps to get started. (Prompt idea by Biola ‘Leye.)


In response to today’s Daily Prompt, I’m simply going to share yesterday’s post, which is the best example of my current survival story.  Because of God’s grace, I’m not only a survivor, He has made me an overcomer!


Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

Psalm 23:3-4  NASB

For the last four years, I was in a dark and heavy place, and though I still breathed, I was dead.  You see, I was in the valley of the shadow of death, and in all truth, it was so overwhelming, that I gave up.  In the depths of my pain, both physical, emotional and spiritual, I fell down in that dark and deadly valley, and I had no will to get up and begin walking through it.  I just didn’t have the strength.  I thought my life was over, and what a horrible way to leave this world.  My faith was shaken, my heart and my body were broken, and so, I spent almost four years, sitting in my recliner and feeling sorry for myself.

Meanwhile, the dark valley of the shadow of death just got darker and darker, until the darkness was so thick and oppressive, that I was overwhelmed by fear and hopelessness.  My physical pain was so great, that I took multiple pain medicines, all prescribed by my doctors, and instead of lessening my pain, they only helped me to sleep through the last four years.  My mental and emotional state was so fractured, that I needed anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications to stop the pain inside my heart.  The problem with this was that these meds only helped me to stop caring.  They stopped the strong emotions that all of us were born feeling.  The sad thing is, though the anti-depressants were supposed to stop those painful feelings, in truth, they stopped my feelings of life and joy and hope, while the pain never completely subsided.

teen-prescription-drug-abuse

And then, two weeks ago today, I stopped taking all of my medication – cold turkey.  Hear me, beloved, this is not the smartest way to stop taking addictive pain medications and anti-depressants, unless the Lord leads you to do so.  The Lord led me to do this, and I went through withdrawal, but amazingly, it wasn’t as bad as I was afraid it might be.  I had headaches, diarrhea, hot flashes, chills, nausea, and extreme weakness.  I cried when I read, cried when someone spoke to me, cried when no one spoke to me.  I just cried, and cried a lot.  And yet, despite these side-effects, life began to stir within me.  I was feeling.  I was alive.  My emotions had awakened, and even more important, my spirit awakened.

As for the chronic back pain that I have suffered with, for the last four years, it’s not that much worse without the pain meds.  Indeed, I now realize that they weren’t helping my pain at all.  If anything, they caused a whole different kind of pain, on top of what I was already suffering, and now that I’m no longer going through withdrawal (thanks be to God!), I find that while living with chronic pain can be devastating, living with deadened feelings and the emotional pain that comes from that, is infinitely worse.

I share all of this, not because I want sympathy or pity, but because I want to testify about what God has done to me.  I was dead, although I continued to breathe.  I could no longer hear the voice of the Lord through the fog that surrounded me, and consequentially, I lost hope.  I lost my joy, and those who have worshiped with me in the past, know that God has given me a wonderful spirit of joy.  Indeed, the joy of the Lord was my strength, and when I lost that joy, my strength ebbed away.

After leading me to stop taking all of my medications (yes, every single one of them!), something amazing happened, in the midst of going through withdrawal, and feeling pretty rough, some of the thoughts that have tormented me for the last four years returned to me.  In the last four years, I had to stop leading prison ministry, which I loved doing… I lost my job, because I was no longer able to work due to the pain… My husband and I became impoverished (no exaggeration)… My mother died, and a month later, my daughter and her family moved over 700 miles away… My daughter-in-law went through brain surgery, and she and her husband moved nearly 325 miles away… I had no ministry… I lost my family…

Suddenly, for the first time in four years, I heard the voice of the Lord, clearly – not through a dark foggy tunnel.  “Cheryl, My beloved, I have given you all of your heart’s desires.  You never dreamed of a career.  All you ever wanted was to get married and have children, so that you would finally have a family who loves you.  I gave you a husband who has loved you and treasured you for more than 35 years.  I gave you two children, who married, blessing  you with two more children, and they love you and treasure you.  Even though you came from a small family, you always wanted a big family.  I’ve given you 10 grandchildren.  You have that big family, and though they are far from you now, they are closer to you than many, whose children live near them.  Yes, you have chronic back and leg pain, but you are loved by your family.  More importantly, child, you are loved by Me, and that’s why I have given you your heart’s desires.  You are no longer able to minister in prison, but your ministry has not ended.  It has changed.  Now you minister by writing according to My will.  Even though you have suffered, My Son suffered more, for your sake.  Even though you were impoverished, I still moved on the hearts of others, to give you a home to live in, and food to eat.  Beloved daughter, your future is secure.”

As I heard those words so clearly, the withdrawal symptoms and my physical pain became tolerable.  I suddenly realized how blessed I am, and I repented and asked the Lord to forgive me for not appreciating all that He’s done for me.  And then, in the midst of going through withdrawal, I began to praise Him for giving me my heart’s desires.

Then, last night, I read a post about an upcoming evening worship service, and the Spirit within me leapt for joy.  You see, in the last four years, I’ve only been to corporate worship services a handful of times, because Sunday mornings are so difficult for me.  Arising early in the morning has been impossible for me, because the pain is always worst in the mornings, and when you stop attending worship services, you lose contact with the friends you had made over the years, because their lives have moved in different directions than yours.  Also, I felt lowly in the sight of faithful church attenders, because I was no longer able to attend regularly, and I was sure they were judging me as one who was lost.  Indeed, some did judge me, but certainly not everyone, as I had thought, in the midst of my depression.

Also, there were a small handful of people, who genuinely loved me, even while I was in such a dark place.  Many people have lots of friends, but I never have.  However, the few friends that I do have, are priceless.  Those friends sought me out, when I had shut myself away.  They prayed for me, and encouraged me, even when they were unable to visit me.  Two friends in particular stand out to me, my beloved friend Tammy, who would talk to me and encourage me on Facebook, and my beloved friend Laura, who lives with chronic pain as well.  Yet despite her chronic pain, Laura has gone out of her way to visit me, pray for me, listen to me and love me, even when I was unlovable.  You see, God didn’t give me a bunch of friends.  Instead, He chose to give me just a few exceptional friends that I truly treasure.  I remember, during my depression, thinking that if I died, no one would come to my funeral, and be there for my husband, and perhaps there won’t be, but God will be there for him, if anything ever happens to me, and really, how many people have the kind of friends that I do?  Many simply have a lot of acquaintances.  I am blessed.

You see, the demons from hell may have thought that I was down for the count.  I thought so, but that’s because I had been blinded to the great power of the God who loves me and created me.  You see, He has always pursued me with His love, and He will always continue to do so.

Surely Your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
    all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord
    forever.

Psalm 23:6  NLT

The most wonderful thing to happen to me these last two weeks is the realization that came to me last night, as I was rejoicing over the upcoming worship service I’m attending.  For, the Lord has restored my soul.  I can feel, love and rejoice again.  I have hope in the God who has loved me, when no one else did.  I have hope in this God who has healed me from so many other problems, and now He has once again healed me and delivered  me from prescription drug addiction and a four year bout with the darkest depression imaginable.  Hallelujah, I am alive again.  He has restored my soul!  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!

He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

Psalm 23:3-4  NASB

I have shared this testimony for two reasons.  First of all, I share this testimony to give others hope.  For if God would deliver me from living in darkness and death, He will surely do the same for you as well, if you will allow Him to.  You must simply obey His voice.  In my case, He commanded that I stop taking all drugs, and He made it unbearable for me to continue taking them, despite what the doctors said.  I don’t know what He will command you to do, but whatever He commands, do it!  Then, watch Him restore your soul!

The second reason I have shared this testimony is very simple.  I share my testimony for my sake and for the sake of others who read it as well.   There is still a devil who wants to steal from me, kill me and destroy me.  Indeed, he very nearly did, except for the unfailing love of the Father, who loves me.  He wants to do the same to you.  Therefore, there is only one way to overcome him, and that is by the blood of the Lamb, which has already been shed on my behalf, and by the word of my testimony.  You see, in the face of Jesus’ blood, and my testimony of Christ’s salvation and the goodness of God, the enemy is overcome!  He is defeated.

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

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

Revelation 12:10-11  NLT

Beloved reader, whether you are dealing with the same or different issues, be encouraged.  The God who unfailingly loves me, loves you just as much as He loves me, and He wants to heal and deliver you from the dark hole that you may find yourself in.  Simply cry out to Him in Jesus’ name, listen for His command – then obey Him!  Fear not!

13 But Moses told the people, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. 14 The Lord Himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.”

Exodus 14:13-14  NLT

© 2016
Cheryl A. Showers

Don’t Teeter On the Edge

Today is the day that millions of Christians around the world celebrate Christ’s resurrection.  After suffering, bleeding, and dying for the sins of mankind, Christ descended into hell, to preach to those men and women who died in the great flood. 

18 Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but He died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but He was raised to life in the Spirit. 

19 So He went and preached to the spirits in prison— 20 those who disobeyed God long ago when God waited patiently while Noah was building his boat. Only eight people were saved from drowning in that terrible flood.

1 Peter 3:18-20  NLT

1 Peter 3-18What a wonderful reason to celebrate!  Jesus suffered and died for our sins (yours and mine) once, for all time, in order to bring us safely home to God.  He suffered a physical death, and then He was raised to life in the Spirit.  And because His love for mankind extended even to those who were dead, He even went and preached to those spirits who were in prison, every single man, woman and child, who had died in the great flood.  The scriptures don’t say what came of that, and I’m not going to even venture a guess.  All that I can say for sure, is that those lost souls were blessed to hear the Good News of the Gospel of Christ.

Now, you may be wondering what any of that has to do with us, and rightfully so.  You see, even though this is the day we celebrate the resurrection of our Savior, I can’t help but think about the many people who are teetering on the edge of a great precipice.  For, although many faithfully attend church on Easter Sunday, dressed in their beautiful new springtime fashions, and many claim to be children of God, how many truly do know Him?  And does church attendance have anything to do with it?

The fact is that for many years, I went to church, took my children to Sunday School, was a fairly nice person, and whenever anyone asked about my religion, I said I was a Methodist or a Christian, even though I really had no relationship with Jesus.  I did my best to teach my children right from wrong, and I went to church, because I thought it was good for my  children.  I didn’t go because I needed to go to church.  I had no idea that I, like many of you today, was teetering on the edge of a steep cliff, ready to fall into the deep abyss of hell, below.

Deuteronomy 30-19

Beloved reader, do you know that it’s not enough to say you’re a Christian, if you don’t have a relationship with Jesus?  It’s not enough to go to church every Sunday, or only on the special Sundays, if you have never asked Jesus to forgive your sins.  Beloved, it isn’t enough to be a good person, because the fact is, that no one is good enough to  be a child of God. 

10 As the Scriptures say,

“No one is righteous—
    not even one.
11 No one is truly wise;
    no one is seeking God.
12 All have turned away;
    all have become useless.
No one does good,
    not a single one.”

Romans 3:10-12  NLT

23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.

Romans 3:23  NLT

Think about it, beloved reader.  What would have been the point of Jesus suffering and dying for the sins of mankind, if we were already good enough to get to heaven without Him?  If that was the case, He could have stayed in heaven, and we could have worked our way  there.  But that wasn’t the case, because as the scriptures clearly say, there wasn’t even one person who was good enough. 

Therefore, knowing that none of us could come to the Father on our own, Jesus made the way open to people like you and me.  He knew that based on our own merit, each and every one of us was condemned to death…

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

Romans 6:23  NLT

Beloved, there is only one way to reach the Father, and that way is through Jesus Christ, His One and only Son.  You see, long ago, before the foundation of the world, God, through Christ, made this way for mankind.  Now, how is that for love?  Before He made us in His own image, He knew we would sin and rebel against Him, and He could have just changed His mind and said, “Forget it.  They’re too much trouble,” but He didn’t.  Instead, He made a way for us, the Only way.

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through Me.

John 14:6  NLT

Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ. This is what He wanted to do, and it gave Him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace He has poured out on us who belong to His dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that He purchased our freedom with the blood of His Son and forgave our sins.

Ephesians 1:4-7  NLT

You see, beloved, God doesn’t care about your pretty new Easter outfit, or your new Easter bonnet.  He cares about you.  More specifically, He cares about your heart.  Whom, or What do you love best?  For that is your real God.  Do you love Jesus?  Or do you love family, friends, power or money more?  Beloved, it isn’t what we call ourselves that makes us a Christian or not.  WHO or WHAT we have placed first in our hearts that really matters.

Let me just briefly share with you the depths of God’s love for you…

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

But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.

Romans 5:8  NLT

Finally, beloved, the scriptures are very clear that salvation is found in Christ alone…

12 There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.

Acts  4:12  NLT

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 2:9-11  NLT

Beloved, God has made the way of salvation very clear, and contrary to what many believe, there is NO other way.  Therefore, if you are teetering on the edge, I beg you to cry out to Jesus!  For if you teeter on the edge for too long, you may find that it’s too late.

© 2016
Cheryl A. Showers


Edge

by Ben Huberman

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

Do You Believe? ~ Matthew 9:27-31 (Part 1)

Image Credit: St-Talka.org
Image Credit:
St-Talka.org

27 After Jesus left the girl’s home, two blind men followed along behind Him, shouting, “Son of David, have mercy on us!”

28 They went right into the house where He was staying, and Jesus asked them, Do you believe I can make you see?”

“Yes, Lord,” they told Him, “we do.”

29 Then He touched their eyes and said, “Because of your faith, it will happen.” 30 Then their eyes were opened, and they could see! Jesus sternly warned them, “Don’t tell anyone about this.” 31 But instead, they went out and spread His fame all over the region. ~ Matthew 9:29-31 — NLT ~

Do you believe that Jesus can…? Fill in the blank and ask yourself, “Do I believe that Jesus can heal my disease? Free me from painGive me a childGive me a home? FoodClothingDeliver me from fearDepressionAddictions? Do I believe that Jesus can forgive meLove meChange me?

When I began to truly follow Jesus, dedicating my whole life to Him, I could feel my faith growing stronger and stronger, as I read and studied God’s word…

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. ~ Romans 10:17 — NASB ~

Image Credit: Apostolic Titbits
Image Credit:
Apostolic Titbits

One of the ways our faith can grow is from hearing God’s word. We can hear His word when we go to church on Sundays, but hearing His word only once a week, will not help your faith to grow. If we want to have the faith that moves mountains, then we must know His word for ourselves. Indeed, we must know Christ  for ourselves, and there is no better way to know Him than to read His word and spend time talking and listening to Him.

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

Do you believe that Jesus can change your life? Can He heal your broken body? Can He mend your broken heart? Can He restore broken relationships?

But when you ask Him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do. ~ James 1:6-8 — NLT ~

How strong is your faith? When Jesus asks you, “Do you believe I can make you (fill in the blank)how will you respond? Do you believe He can do anything, or do you doubt it?

I’ll be honest with you… I have such a strong faith that Jesus will help others, but when it comes to me personally, though I desperately long to believe, I struggle. I don’t think the struggle is so much can He, as will He? For the last three years, I’ve suffered with constant, chronic debilitating back pain, and I’ve prayed for relief, which hasn’t come.

When I first started dealing with this pain, I sensed the Lord telling me that this is something I must go through. So what does that mean, exactly? Is this a temporary thing? Or is it something I will have to deal with for the rest of my life? I desperately want to believe that  this won’t be forever, but I’m not sure. I want to pray according to God’s will for this, but I’m not sure what His will for me is… Is my faith weak? How about yours? What do we do when our faith is weak???

There was another person in the bible who loved the Lord and wanted to believe in Jesus’ power to help him, yet, like mine, his faith was much too weak. Yet this man didn’t allow that to stop him. Do you remember the man whose son was possessed by an evil spirit that caused him to have violent seizures, and wouldn’t allow the boy to speak? He brought his son to Jesus, hoping that He would heal and deliver his son, but when he arrived, Jesus wasn’t there, so he asked the disciples to cast the demon out. However, they were unable to do so, and the man was left feeling as dispirited as I’ve felt about my chronic back pain…

Then, of course, there were also naysayers in the crowd, who further depressed the poor crestfallen man, by stirring the pot. You know the kind of people I’m talking about. Instead of encouraging and empathizing your plight, they instead try to stamp out any faith you might still hold onto, by adding their opinions… “I told you, there’s nothing anyone can do”… “You don’t really believe God can do anything about your problem, do you???” This is the scene Jesus came upon when he returned to His disciples…

Image Credit: bongodogblog
Image Credit:
bongodogblog

16 “What is all this arguing about?” Jesus asked.

17 One of the men in the crowd spoke up and said, “Teacher, I brought my son so you could heal him. He is possessed by an evil spirit that won’t let him talk. 18 And whenever this spirit seizes him, it throws him violently to the ground. Then he foams at the mouth and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast out the evil spirit, but they couldn’t do it.”

19 Jesus said to them, “You faithless people! How long must I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring the boy to Me.”

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

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

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

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

24 The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” ~ Mark 9:16-24 — NLT ~

Image Credit: Darrell Creswell
Image Credit:
Darrell Creswell

Have you been there? You want to believe, and you know you should believe, but there’s still a part of you that just can’t believe. Not only that, but others have seen your situation, and added their opinions, and though you’ve tried not to listen to the negativity, it’s still registered in your brain, and you have that doubt on top of your own. 

The father of this boy had heard that Jesus was a miracle worker, and though he desperately wanted to believe, his boy had been like this for a long time.  Still, he had worked up his courage, and brought his boy, and the disciples had tried to cast the demons out to no avail. How discouraged he must have felt! 

Have you been there? I have. I’ve had several people, from several different churches, pray over me and prophesy that I am healed, though I really haven’t been. I’ve had some tell me to walk in my healing, even though I’m still in pain, denying the pain, though it remains. They’ve commanded me to walk around the church, when I can barely hold myself up, let alone make a trek around the church. I’ve been told to ignore my pain, and though I’m in excruciating pain, I should repeat over and over, “I am healed.”  Jesus never told anyone to deny their condition. He always deals in truth.  

Therefore, I am left with this realization… I am a lot like the father in this story. I desperately want to believe that Jesus will heal me, but I’m not sure that He will… Though I believe that He can, what if it’s not His will to heal me?

22 The spirit often throws him into the fire or into water, trying to kill him. Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.”

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

24 The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” ~ Mark 9:22-24 — NLT ~

In the beginning of this study, Jesus asked the blind men, “Do you believe I can make you see?” (Matthew 9:28 — NLT) Later, He told the father of the demonized boy, “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?.. “Anything is possible if a person believes.”  (Mark 9:23 — NLT ) Therefore, in light of this study, I will join with  the boy’s father, tell ing the Lord, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24 — NLT)

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers


All bible references are taken from Bible Gateway. Do you want to look up a scripture, but can’t remember where to find it? Try finding it on Bible Gateway, a wonderful website that includes many different bible versions, study aids and helps. Bible Gateway is a great resource for all believers to grow in wisdom and knowledge of the Lord.

Names of God ~ Introduction

The name of the Lord is a strong tower;
The righteous runs into it and is safe.                
~ Proverbs 18:10 — NASB ~

In ancient times, names were very important. People didn’t simply choose to give their child a name, because they liked the way it sounded. When the Jews named their children in biblical times, the names were usually given with a specific purpose in mind. Sometimes, the child was named after his father or perhaps another relative…

Image Credit: wikipaintings.org
Image Credit:
wikipaintings.org

59 And it happened that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to call him Zacharias, after his father. 60 But his mother answered and said, “No indeed; but he shall be called John.” 61 And they said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who is called by that name.” ~ Luke 1:59-61 — NASB ~

Many times the infant was named in obedience to a command from the Lord, and/or in order to convey a message…

12 Zacharias was troubled when he saw the angel, and fear gripped him. 13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will give him the name John. 14 You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. 15 For he will be great in the sight of the Lord; and he will drink no wine or liquor, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother’s womb. 16 And he will turn many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God. 17 It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” ~ Luke 1:12-17 — NASB ~

We see in this scripture passage that Zacharias (also known as Zechariah), was commanded by an angel of the Lord to name is son (who hadn’t even been conceived yet), John, which means YHWH is gracious. As you can see from the scripture, the reason God blessed Zacharias and Elizabeth with their son, was to turn the hearts of the fathers in Israel back to their children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous. It seems that the Lord truly was gracious in sending John…

Knowing the importance the Hebrew nation placed on names, it is even more important to study the names of God. You see, God has many names, and each name describes one of the many aspects of His character… Therefore, today, we will look at this name of God…

The name of the Lord is a strong tower;
The righteous runs into it and is safe.                ~ Proverbs 18:10 — NASB ~

A strong tower was built to withstand attack from the enemies outside. Actually, the New Living Translation gives a better picture of this name of God…

The name of the Lord is a strong fortress;
the godly run to Him and are safe. 
~ Proverbs 18:10 — NLT ~

Image Credit: jerusalem.com
Image Credit:
jerusalem.com

In biblical times, during times of war, when warriors from other nations or tribes would come against the Jews, they would gather within a walled city or fortress, such as in Jerusalem. There would be watchers on the wall, keeping an eye out for impending danger, and at the first sign of danger, they would sound a loud trumpet, warning the people of the coming attack. Then, the walls of that mighty fortress would close, locking the people inside within its walls of safety. While the citizens were hidden within the fortress, the soldiers of Jerusalem would mount its walls, defending the people of Jerusalem.

Now, with this understanding, when we say the name of the Lord is a strong tower/fortress, we are saying that in God’s name, there is safety, and just as the soldiers on the wall protect the citizens within, so God protects us from the enemy’s attacks. Think about it, whenever we are in danger, we should call upon the name of the Lord,  our mighty fortress, who protects His people from all harm… 

For You are my safe refuge,
A fortress where my enemies cannot reach me 
~ Psalm 61:3 — NLT ~

Image Credit: lovehealstheworld.com
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lovehealstheworld.com

Therefore, beloved readers, when you feel the storms of life crashing against you… when your worries and fears rage against you… when you feel as though all hope is gone, and you’re feeling helpless… call upon the name of the Lord… run quickly into the presence of your Strong Tower!

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

It’s a Matter of Faith — Little Faith

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Image Credit:
Darrel Tank

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

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

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

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Image Credit:
James Seward

This is one of my favorite scripture passages. I love reading how Jesus arises in the midst of the storm and rebukes the wind and the waves, telling them, “Peace! Be still!” It blesses me to think that He cared enough about the disciples to calm the storm that was raging all about them, and it makes me wonder, does He love me enough to calm the storms in my life? Does He love you enough to calm the storms in your life?

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Image Credit:
devotions4misfits.wordpress.com

To believe in the possibility that Jesus loves me, knowing that He knows my every thought and every secret deed requires faith. And sometimes, I just don’t know if my faith is strong enough. Now, when it comes to believing that He loves you or someone else, I have great faith. When it comes to believing that God will step in and move on your behalf, I have no problem.

You see, it is easy to have faith in God for someone else, but it is another thing to have faith in God for yourself. Maybe that’s one of the reasons I love this story so much, because in it, I can see that I’m not that much different than the disciples who walked with Jesus everyday, and knew Him physically, as well as spiritually.

Although they knew Jesus intimately and actually saw Him work miracles, signs and wonders, their faith was still small. They had seen Him work wonders in the lives of others, but could He or would He work on their behalf? They were afraid to believe that He would, and sadly, I understand that fear.

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Image Credit:
NancyPH Lord of the Arts
wetcanvas.com

You see, it began when I was a child. I can remember not doing my homework and then praying for a blizzard, so that I could stay home from school and get my work done, and I really had great faith that He would come through for me, but He never did. I didn’t understand it. Why didn’t God answer my prayers, when He knew that my parents would beat me and curse me? Was it because I was so bad, and I just wasn’t worthy of His love? At the time, this was the only answer that made sense to me. After all, He knew the things that I had done, and even worse, He knew the things that I thought. Have you ever felt like that?

The sad thing is that we don’t always outgrow those childhood disappointments, and they can hinder us as we get older. I grew up believing that God helps others, (just as the disciples probably thought), but not someone like me, until the storms in life began to batter me. Have  you been battered by the storms in life? Have you longed for the Savior to rebuke the wind and the waves in your life?

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Image Credit:
Bimartins.deviantart.com

If so, we must do as the disciples did. They shamelessly cried out to Jesus, while He slept peacefully. As they wakened Him, the disciples shouted, “Teacher, don’t You care that we’re going to drown?” Isn’t that what we all want to know? My life is falling apart, and the storms keep on raging against me, and Jesus, do You really care about me?

Now, let’s look at how Jesus responded to His panicked disciples…

26 Jesus responded, “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!” Then He got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm. ~ Matthew 8:26 — NLT ~

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Image Credit:
covenantcrabco.com

The scriptures show no indication that Jesus was angry with His frightened disciples. Instead, He takes the time to answer them, before calming the wind and the waves. “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!” Now, pay attention! After telling them that they had little faith, Jesus still got up and rebuked the wind and the waves, thereby causing a great calm. Do you see that,  beloved reader? Even though their faith was small, He still answered their prayer, and calmed the storm.

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Image Credit:
Darrell Creswell

How does your faith measure? Is it little faith, or great faith? If it is just little faith, can you still believe that Jesus loves you, and that when you delight yourself in Him, He will give you the desires of your heart? Beloved readers, Jesus loves us far more than we know, and if you are willing to admit that you have little faith, and ask Him to increase your faith, He will! Remember the father of the demon possessed boy…

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

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

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

24 The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” ~ Mark 9:21-24 — NLT ~

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Image Credit:
The Writer’s Pen

You know that Jesus saw the pain in that man’s eyes, and he heard it in the man’s voice as he cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” Friends, I understand what that man was saying. “I believe, but help me Lord, because I believe for others, but not for me and mine. Lord, please help me overcome my unbelief!”

And Jesus’ response to this man’s plea? It was the same as His response to the disciples. Jesus heard the cry of his heart, and He healed the man’s son, thereby helping him to overcome his unbelief. For the disciples, He calmed the wind and the waves. He did it for their sake, to increase their little faith.

So, what do we do when our faith is little? We cry out to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith and…

looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. ~ Hebrews 12:2 — NLT ~

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Faith MySpace Layouts

Do you see that? Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith. The author of a book is the one who writes the book, creates the characters and endows them with their various abilities, and it is the same with the author of our faith. It is He who created each one of us, and it is He who gives us our various gifts and abilities. Therefore, if Jesus is the author of our faith, then He is the One who gave us our faith to start with, and it is He who finishes our faith. Therefore, if I cry out to Him to increase my faith, since that is His will for you and me, will He not honor that request? Of course He will.

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Image Credit:
Designs by God

Do you have little faith? Then do as the father of the boy did, and do as I do. Ask Jesus to help you overcome your unbelief… And one more thing, when you read God’s word, read it out loud, so that you can hear the words as they are spoken. Memorize His word, so that you can speak it to yourself and to others…

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God~ Romans 10:17 — NKJV ~

If you want your little faith to grow, cry out to Jesus and speak and listen to God’s word, because faith comes from hearing the word of God. By crying out to Jesus, you are crying out to the Word of God, to increase your faith. And by reading and speaking His word out loud, you are speaking the words of the author and finisher of your faith — the One who is writing your existence and your faith, and by doing so, your little faith will grow… Amen.

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

It’s a Matter of Faith – Saving Faith

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souldreamers.tumblr.com

And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to Him must believe that God exists and that He rewards those who sincerely seek Him. ~ Hebrews 11:6 — NLT ~

Did you know that it doesn’t matter how many good deeds you do, or how kind you are, if you don’t have faith, you cannot please God? It doesn’t matter how generous you are, if you don’t have faith, it is impossible for you to please God. Oh, and one more thing — if you have faith in the wrong thing, it is impossible for you to please God.

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For God loved the world so much that 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 ~

You see, the scriptures are very clear about Who you must believe in, if you want to be saved… Do you believe in God? Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God? Do you believe that Jesus suffered, bled and died to pay for the sins of all mankind? Do you believe that after being in the grave for three days, Jesus rose from the dead?

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

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

Do you ever wonder why some people have faith in God, and some don’t? Why is it, that there are some Christians who have willingly laid down their lives for Christ? Where does such faith come from?

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8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. ~ Ephesians 2:8-9 — NLT ~

Faith in Christ is a gift from God. Those of us, who believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God, don’t believe because we know something that no one else knows. We don’t believe because we’re fools who blindly believe in anything. The men and women, whose very lives center around Christ, believe because we have received the gift of saving faith, and those who do not have that faith have refused to accept the gift that God, in His great mercy and love, offers to everyone.

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

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

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

You see, beloved reader, each and everyone of us, since the beginning of time, has been offered the gift of eternal life at no cost to us. It is a free gift, paid in full, by Jesus Christ, when He suffered, bled and died on the cross to pay for your sins and mine. And not only is the free gift of eternal life offered to each and everyone of us, but also, the gift of faith to believe that this is true. (Remember, that is is by grace we are saved through faith, and that is not of ourselves, it is a gift from God.) 

Therefore, those of us who love the Lord with all of our hearts, do so because He has given us the faith to love Him and believe that Jesus Christ is His Son. However, those who read this and do not love the Lord, do so because they have refused the gift of faith that has been offered to all.

Many times, I’ve seen people respond in anger when they are told that if you don’t accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, then you cannot enter the gates of heaven. Indeed, you will never even see those gates. Those who refuse to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior will burn in hell, and this is not God’s fault, nor is it His will.

The Lord isn’t really being slow about His promise, as some people think. No, He is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. ~ 2 Peter 3:9 — NLT ~

You see, though the gift has been offered to all, only those who accept and receive the gift are saved. If you refuse to accept the gift of saving faith that has been offered to you, it is your choice, not God’s

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And now, beloved reader, by reading this post, you have once again been offered the gift of faith that saves you, and as with any gift, you have a choice to make. Therefore, in closing, I’ll leave you with the words that Moses spoke to the men and women of Israel, when they were about to enter the Promised Land. For those words are still appropriate today, as every man, woman and child, who is able to, must make this choice. Do you want eternal life or eternal damnation? The choice is yours…

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 30:19-20 — NLT ~

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

Who Were the Wise Men?

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem…
~ Matthew 2:1 — KJV ~

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Imagine how they must have felt… These were not ordinary men. They weren’t peasants, nor were they kings, though that is what some have claimed over the years. However, according to scripture, these were wise men… They were magos from the Orient. They were magicians, teachers, astrologers… These men had studied the stars for many years, so just imagine their consternation, when suddenly, one night, seemingly out of nowhere, a new star appeared to them. What would you do?

Image Credit: "The Three Wise Men" by: James Edwin McConnell
Image Credit:
“The Three Wise Men”
by: James Edwin McConnell

These men seemed to know exactly what to do. Was this something that they had foreknowledge of or was it something the Lord revealed to them as each of the wise men determined to leave his homeland behind, in order to follow this star? Did the men know each other prior to meeting on the road to Bethlehem, as they were led by the star? Or did they meet along the road and develop a friendship, as each one sought the King of kings?

Image Credit: "And Wise Men Came Bearing Gifts" by: Tom duBois
Image Credit:
“And Wise Men Came Bearing Gifts”
by: Tom duBois

How many wise men were there? Many believe there were three wise men, because three gifts were mentioned, but the scriptures don’t say whether there were 2 or 20 wise men.  We only know that they were wise and they were male. What made them wise? Was it the fact that they were all very learned men? I don’t think so. You see, scripture makes it plain that knowledge and wisdom are not the same. One can have much knowledge, and still be a fool, and these men were clearly not fools. So what set them apart from others? Where did their wisdom come from? 

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction…
~ Proverbs 1:7 — KJV ~

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Image Credit:
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What made these wise men different from other learned men during that time, was the fact that they feared the Lord. What made them different from all the others who also saw the same star but paid no attention, is that when they saw the star, a fire was ignited within them. They were hungry for righteousness. They sought the way, the truth and the life. They followed the star, not seeking its scientific origin, but seeking the King whose birth the star signified…

You see, just as another Chaldean, named Abraham, went up a lonely mountain top, to offer up his one and only son, as an act of worship, so these Chaldeans came, to worship the King of glory… the One and only Son of God… the One whom He had sent to be offered up as a sacrifice for their sins, and for ours as well…

“Who were these wise men?” you might ask… They were worshipers… And watch and learn from them, my beloved readers… You see, they understood this important fact, before Jesus, who was but a toddler when they first saw Him, was even able to speak the words to them…

23 “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
~ John 4:23-24 — NKJV ~

And so, my beloved readers, I have a very serious question to pose, not only to you, but to me as well… As we celebrated the holidays, how wise were you… Father, how wise was I? Did you seek the King of glory? Did you seek to worship Him, though perhaps it wasn’t easy or convenient? If not, are you willing to seek Him now, forsaking all that you know, in an effort to draw close to Him???

Lord, hear our cries, and give us hearts that hunger and thirst for You, first and foremost. Let us be as wise as the magos in the east, leaving all that we know and hold dear, in order to come and worship You, in Jesus’ name… Amen.

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers

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