Tag Archives: sin

Things Aren’t Always What They Seem

He’d been sold.  Again.  First his brothers had sold him to the slave traders, and now, Joseph had been sold to an Egyptian soldier!  How far he had fallen!  How had he become such a bitter taste in his brothers’ mouths?  Knowing that he would see neither his father or his brother Benjamin, who knew nothing of his half-brothers’ evil intent, again, brought tears to his eyes, every time he thought of them.

Depression threatened to overwhelm him, yet, by Adonai’s grace, he was still alive.  He was now a slave, and there was nothing he could do to change it.  “Elohim,” Joseph whispered softly, as he was led away to the Egyptian soldier’s home, “please be near me, lest I die in this pit of despair…  And comfort my father, Adonai.  Give him peace, and please, protect little Benjamin from the evil intents of our brothers.  El Shaddai, deliver all of us from evil!”

Each day Joseph worked hard for his owner, dropping to his sleeping mat at night, often too exhausted to dwell on his fate.  That doesn’t mean that he did not mourn for the loss of his father, his family and his freedom.  He deeply grieved for them, hiding his pain from everyone during the day, as He served his master, Potiphar, faithfully, and without complaint.  In the cover of darkness, at night, however, especially during his first year as a slave, Joseph often wept, as he pleaded with Almighty God to protect and bless him and his family.  The Lord answered Joseph’s prayers and showered him with His favor, so that everything he did succeeded, and Potiphar, being a shrewd man, recognized and rewarded Joseph’s success by giving him charge over his entire household and everything in it.

Despite his bitter circumstances, Joseph was truly grateful to Elohim for allowing His blessings to rain down on him, and he set his heart to walking in humble obedience to both God and his master.  Though he desperately missed his family, even his deceitful brothers, Joseph worked hard, refusing to give in to the depression that sometimes threatened to overwhelm him.  Several years went by, as Joseph worked for Potiphar, and he grew in strength and stature.  Indeed, Joseph was a very  handsome young man, and it wasn’t long before others noticed…

potiphars_wife

She began to watch him, as he went about his business in her husband’s house each day, seemingly oblivious to the effect he had on her.  She didn’t say anything to him at first.  She just watched him, and wondered what it would be like to be touched by such a man.  He wouldn’t be her first conquest, for her husband was gone much of the time, fighting battles and wars.  He often left her alone for months at a time.  Certainly, no one in their culture would blame her for her looking to others to satisfy her needs, for most of them did the same thing.

After some time had passed, the woman finally acted on her desires, and boldly walked up behind Joseph one day, while he was working. She placed her arms around his waist.  “Come sleep with me,” she softly whispered, her lips so close to his ear that he felt the moistness of her hot breath against it.

Startled, Joseph turned to look at her in shock.  Oh mistress, I couldn’t!  Look,” he told her, “my master trusts me with everything in his entire household. No one here has more authority than I do. He has held back nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How could I do such a wicked thing? It would be a great sin against God.”

Without waiting for a response, Joseph quickly spun around on his heel, and left the room.  “El Shaddai, protect me,” he gasped, when he was alone, as fear and trembling threatened to overtake him.  It felt like a weight had settled in the pit of his stomach, and Joseph felt the bile of nausea rising up in his throat.

From that time forth, Potiphar’s wife made it her mission to coax Joseph into having sex with her.  She refused to take no for an answer, and his rejection only seemed to fuel her desire for him.  Though he tried to avoid her, she somehow managed to find him again and again.

Finally, one day, when no one else was around, Potiphar’s wife came upon him and insisted that he have sex with her.  She walked up to him, and ordered him yet again to, “Come, have sex with me.”  Then, grabbing his cloak in her hands, she attempted to remove it.  Not knowing what else to do, Joseph slipped away from his cloak and ran away from the conniving woman.  She was furious.

Potiphar and his wife

Holding his cloak in her hand, she screamed in fury, and when her servants rushed to her aid, she said, “Look!  My husband has brought this Hebrew slave here to make fools of us!  He came into my room to rape me, but I screamed.  When he heard me scream, he ran outside and got away, but he left his cloak behind with me.” 

Later, when her husband returned home from work, she repeated the story to Potiphar, saying, “That Hebrew slave you’ve brought into our house tried to come in and fool around with me, but when I screamed, he ran outside, leaving his cloak with me!”

Joseph, meanwhile, was in his room, crying out to the Lord for mercy.  The situation had become unbearable.  He could see no way to escape from this untenable circumstance, but one thing was certain.  He would betray neither El Shaddai nor his master Potiphar.  As he bowed before the Lord, the door to his room burst open, and Potiphar entered, with rage on his face.

“I have given you everything!” he shouted.  “There is nothing that I have withheld from you, except my wife! Yet you betrayed my trust and tried to rape her.  Is this how you repay my kindness, slave?”

Joseph paled and his eyes grew wide at Potiphar’s angry accusation.  “Master,” he whispered softly.  “You have been very kind and generous to me, indeed, and I am very grateful.  I would never betray your trust in such an evil way.  Nor would I betray Elohim’s kindness to me.”

As Potiphar gazed into Joseph’s eyes, did he realize that his wife had duped him?  Because his wife’s accusations had been so public, and because no one took the word of a slave over his master’s wife, there was no trial.  Potiphar had to save face, even at Joseph’s expense.  Therefore, Joseph was thrust into prison, for a crime that he didn’t commit.  Indeed, he was cast into jail, for a crime that didn’t even exist, except in the twisted minds of his accusers.

Joseph in Prison

Beloved reader, things are not always what they seem.  In this day and age, we are told to believe certain things without question, even though there is no evidence to back them up.  We have seen false accusations against men and women abound in our country, and in others as well.  Yet, Joseph is a true life testimony that things are not always what they seem.

Jesus was wrongfully accused of blasphemy and many other crimes that simply were not true.  Yet, He was led away like a lamb to a slaughter, bearing the guilt and sins of you and me.  To many in the world, He seemed guilty.  Yet, things were not what they seemed…

For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.  (2 Corinthians 5:21 NLT)

© 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

Does Persecution Still Exist?

10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.  (Matthew 5:10-12 NKJV)

For the last few days, I’ve pondered about what to write about persecution.  Lord, what would You have me write?  Many of us, who have been blessed to live in the United States, are often ignorant of the persecution and crimes committed against Christians.  We often, mistakenly think that the persecution of Christians and Jews is a thing of the past, but that is terribly foolish and wrong, for many of our brothers and sisters around the world are being persecuted, even now, as you read this message.

Indeed, I believe that there is coming a day, when even U.S. citizens will be persecuted for their faith in Christ.  In fact, that day has already begun.

“But watch out for yourselves, for they will deliver you up to councils, and you will be beaten in the synagogues. You will be brought before rulers and kings for My sake, for a testimony to them. 10 And the gospel must first be preached to all the nations. 11 But when they arrest you and deliver you up, do not worry beforehand, or premeditate what you will speak. But whatever is given you in that hour, speak that; for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. 12 Now brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. 13 And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.  (Mark 13:9-13 NKJV)  

We are living in dangerous times.  You don’t have to look far to see how children have turned against their parents, and parents have turned against their children.  In other countries, we’ve seen how families from other beliefs, (Hindu, Buddhist, and Islam for example) have turned against their own loved ones, by disinheriting them, beating and torturing them, and even killing them, simply because they believe in Jesus.  

The chart listed above, shows the statistics for 2018, for persecuted Christians around the world.  It is eye opening, and if you are a child of God, then this should concern you, because those persecuted Christians are your brothers and sisters in Christ.  I got this information from the following website:

www.opendoorsusa.org/christian-persecution/ 

According to these statistics, approximately 8 Christians die daily, for their faith, which totals 255 Christians monthly.  For those who live in the U.S., can you imagine waking up each day, not knowing whether this is the day that someone will betray you for your faith in Christ?  Can you imagine wondering, throughout the day, whether you may be murdered because you are a follower of Christ?  The statistics tell us that 104 people each month, which is a little more than 3 people daily, are abducted for their faith.  Imagine, being snatched from your home, your place of employment, or from the streets, because you are a Christian.  As if this isn’t bad enough, 180 women are raped, sexually harassed, or forced into unwanted marriages every month.  That’s 6 women who are raped, forced into unwanted, mostly abusive marriages and sexually harassed every day, just because they love Jesus.  Imagine the fear, shame and pain that these women endure!  66 churches every month are attacked, and 160 Christians are arrested and imprisoned for their faith, without benefit of a trial.

Beloved reader, don’t just sigh and shake your head.  Do you know that if you are a believer, you, too, may one day suffer persecution?  I don’t share this with you to frighten you, but so that you won’t be caught unaware.  Do you know that here, in the U.S., Christians are being sued for standing up for their faith, which is our first amendment right?

You don’t often hear about these things on broadcast news media outlets, or in most newspapers, because defending the rights of Christians is not part of their agenda.  Instead, many are trying to silence Christians, because true believers refuse to embrace sinful lifestyles, such as abortion, adultery, fornication and homosexuality, to name just a few.  Christians, such as our Vice-President, Mike Pence, are mocked and ridiculed for our beliefs.

Nonbelievers claim that Christians are narrow-minded and intolerant, and yet, they are the ones who are trying to silence us.  All too often, debates end in name calling and false accusations.  They do this because, All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed.”  (John 3:20 NLT)  

Beloved, in these last days, don’t be shocked by the things that are happening in the world around you, and in your world.  For Jesus warned us about this…

12 “But before all this occurs, there will be a time of great persecution. You will be dragged into synagogues and prisons, and you will stand trial before kings and governors because you are My followers. 13 But this will be your opportunity to tell them about Me. 14 So don’t worry in advance about how to answer the charges against you, 15 for I will give you the right words and such wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to reply or refute you! 16 Even those closest to you—your parents, brothers, relatives, and friends—will betray you. They will even kill some of you.17 And everyone will hate you because you are My followers. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish! 19 By standing firm, you will win your souls.”  (Luke 21:12-19 NLT)

Indeed, my friend, I suggest that we shouldn’t be surprised that people hate us because of our faith.  We should instead, be surprised by the ones who don’t hate us.  So, what can we do about this persecution of God’s people?  There is one thing that every one of us can do, no matter where we live, or what our circumstances are.  We can pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ, who are suffering. The Apostle Paul even let us know what to pray for our brothers and sisters, and so did the writer of Hebrews… 

18 Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.  

19 And pray for me, too. Ask God to give me the right words so I can boldly explain God’s mysterious plan that the Good News is for Jews and Gentiles alike.20 I am in chains now, still preaching this message as God’s ambassador. So pray that I will keep on speaking boldly for Him, as I should.  (Ephesians 6:18-20 NLT)

Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies.  (Hebrews 13:3 NLT)

Jesus promised that the kingdom of heaven belongs to those who are persecuted for His name’s sake, and that they will receive a great reward.  Beloved, let’s be active in our prayers for our persecuted brethren, and remember, you or I could very well be the next one to be persecuted for our faith.  And if, you or I do suffer from persecution one day, hold tight to Jesus’ promise, and may we have the same attitude that Peter had…  

12 Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; 13 but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. 14 If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter. 

17 For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 Now “If the righteous one is scarcely saved, Where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?” 

19 Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator.  (1 Peter 4:12-19  NKJV)

Links to sites about Christian persecution:

© 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

What’s Wrong With a Little Yeast???

33 Jesus also used this illustration: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like the yeast a woman used in making bread. Even though she put only a little yeast in three measures of flour, it permeated every part of the dough.”

Matthew 13:33  NLT

In the scriptures, yeast, or leaven as it is called in some versions, represents sin or evil, either by false teachers, or sin itself.  In this study, we’re going to talk about sin, in the context of this parable…

rotten potato

Have you ever bought a bag of potatoes, and had one of the potatoes go bad?  Within a few days, if that bad potato isn’t removed right away, the whole bag will rot, ruining all of the potatoes, and the stench permeates the air.  The same is true for sin, which is why Paul rebuked the Corinthian church, in his first letter to them.  At the time, there was a man in the church, engaging in sexual immorality, and Paul confronted the church for not only allowing this sin to continue in the church, but for boasting about it…

Your boasting about this is terrible. Don’t you realize that this sin is like a little yeast that spreads through the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old “yeast” by removing this wicked person from among you. Then you will be like a fresh batch of dough made without yeast, which is what you really are. Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed for us. So let us celebrate the festival, not with the old bread of wickedness and evil, but with the new bread of sincerity and truth.

1 Corinthians 5:6-8  NLT

The same is true for any sin in our lives.  It starts out as a seemingly insignificant thing, but it grows at an alarming rate, often destroying not only person engaged in the sin, but many others as well.  A good example of this is Adam and Eve…

When Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, I’m sure they never fully  comprehended the devastation that would follow.  Indeed, they probably didn’t even understand the full scope of how sin and death would soon ravage, not just them, but the entire earth.  I’m certain it never occurred to either of them that their relationship would be harmed, when they determined to eat the fruit God had warned them not to eat.  Yet, let’s look at what happened  as a result of their sin…

The very first relationship that was harmed by Adam and Eve’s determination to sin, was their relationship with God, Who came to walk with them in the cool of the day…

When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man and his wife heard the Lord God walking about in the garden. So they hid from the Lord God among the trees. Then the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”

10 He replied, “I heard you walking in the garden, so I hid. I was afraid because I was naked.”

Genesis 3:8-10  NLT

Until that time, the man and woman had walked in the Garden of Eden naked and unashamed, but when they ate of the fruit, they immediately felt shame.  In their shame, they hid from the God who created them, loved them, breathed His life-giving breath into them, and walked and talked with them.  That one, seemingly insignificant sin (eating the forbidden fruit), destroyed their relationship with their Creator.  Could it be that it wasn’t the act of eating the fruit, but the decision to disobey God’s command, that destroyed their relationship with Him?

When they disobeyed God, their own relationship was also spoiled.  It would never be the same again… 

11 “Who told you that you were naked?” the Lord God asked. “Have you eaten from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat?”

12 The man replied, “It was the woman you gave me who gave me the fruit, and I ate it.”

Genesis 3:11-12  NLT

Rather than simply answering, “Yes,” to God’s question, Adam immediately threw Eve under the bus, turning against this woman that he had recently rejoiced in, blaming her for his sin…

23 “At last!” the man exclaimed.

“This one is bone from my bone,
    and flesh from my flesh!
She will be called ‘woman,’
    because she was taken from ‘man.’”

Now, just one sin damaged a relationship that had been perfect up until then.  How could Eve look at Adam the same way?  Imagine how betrayed she must have felt.  Hadn’t Adam been right there with her, when she sinned against God?  Had she twisted his arm?  Why had he turned against her?

Additionally, not only was their relationship with God and themselves damaged, so too, was their relationship with God’s creation…

13 Then the Lord God asked the woman, “What have you done?”

“The serpent deceived me,” she replied. “That’s why I ate it.”

14 Then the Lord God said to the serpent,

“Because you have done this, you are cursed
    more than all animals, domestic and wild.
    You will crawl on your belly,
    groveling in the dust as long as you live.
15 And I will cause hostility between you and the
woman,

      and between your offspring and her offspring.
He will strike your head,
    and you will strike His heel.

Genesis 3:13-15  NLT

Now, not only were their relationships damaged, but that one sin damaged the entire animal kingdom.  No more would the serpent walk.  It would now crawl on its belly.  Instead of walking in peace with mankind, there would now be enmity between the woman and the serpent… 

No longer, would there be only joy in childbearing.  Because of their sin against God, Eve, and every one of her daughters thereafter, would labor and experience pain in childbearing, some even to the death.  Surely, Adam and Eve never thought of this, when they disobeyed God’s command…

16 To the woman He said,
“I will greatly multiply
Your pain in childbirth,
In pain you will bring forth children;
Yet your desire will be for your husband,
And he will rule over you.”

I love how The Voice translates this verse.  I think it reveals how devastating the consequences of Eve’s sin was to womankind, and the relationships of man and woman as well…

16     (to the woman) As a consequence of your actions,
        I will increase your suffering—the pain of childbirth
    And the sorrow of bringing forth the next generation.
    You will desire your husband; but rather than a companion, He will be the dominant partner.

Genesis 3:16 VOICE

How many women, since Eve’s day, have longed for a better relationship with their husbands?  How many have sought and failed to find the perfect husband, to love them unconditionally, really listen to them, understand them and treat them as an equal partner?  How many women, throughout the world, must bow to their husband’s every desire, no matter how egregious?  How many women have been and continue to be beaten, abused and mistreated, as a direct result of Adam and Eve’s sin against God?  I’m certain that neither of them foresaw the devastating results of their one “little” sin. 

Don’t misunderstand me.  I don’t believe that all of the evil that has fallen on the earth is the result of God’s punishment against mankind.  To be sure, they were punished, but I believe God was also describing the consequences that their sin had set in motion.  Indeed, even those words didn’t share the full scope of what would soon take place, not only in their lives, but in the lives of every other human, who would follow.  When we sin, we have no idea how many people or how many generations will be effected by our sin

17 And to the man He said,

“Since you listened to your wife and ate from the tree
    whose fruit I commanded you not to eat,
the ground is cursed because of you.
    All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it.
18 It will grow thorns and thistles for you,
    though you will eat of its grains.
19 By the sweat of your brow
    will you have food to eat
until you return to the ground
    from which you were made.
For you were made from dust,
    and to dust you will return.”

Because of Adam’s choice, man would have to labor and sweat, to produce crops to eat.  This would be no easy task for him, because now the ground was cursed.  No longer would all of the soil be fertile.  Now, man would have to plow and dig, hoe and weed to produce a crop.  Eventually, locusts and grasshoppers would destroy crops, as well as floods and famines and other disasters.  Man would have to fight the elements in order to provide food for his family, until the day he died.  Then, he would return to the dust from whence he had come, and all of this, because he had chosen to eat the forbidden fruit.

Then, after clothing Adam and Eve with animal skins, they were banished from the Garden of Eden.  No longer would they walk with God and talk with Him in the cool of the evening.  No longer would they have access to the tree of life.  Now, their lives would be filled with pain and toil, simply because they had chosen to eat the forbidden fruit…

I’m sure they never dreamed that their beloved son Cain, would kill his younger brother Abel, as a result of their sin.  They never imagined that Cain’s descendants would be given to the same violence as Cain.  They had no way of knowing that all of their descendants, except for Noah and his family would one day be wiped from the face of the earth, because their wickedness was so great.  Because of one “little” sin, all of these things and more happened.

Look around our world today.  Homosexuals are marrying one another, and brazenly displaying their sins publicly.  Children rebel openly against their parents.  Lies, murder, adultery, idolatry and all sorts of evil abound, as the love of mankind waxes cold, because of one little sin.

This is why Jesus and Paul compared sin to yeast.  Only a little bit will spread through all of the dough.  Do you have any sin in your life?  Perhaps it’s just a “little” sin, but that “little” sin can have devastating consequences, and who knows how many people and generations will be effected by it.

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

Hebrews 4:14-16  NLT

If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.

1 John 1:8-9  NLT

Despite mankind’s rebellion against Him, God hasn’t left us without hope.  When He punished Adam and Eve and told them the consequences of their actions, He also made a promise…

15 And I will cause hostility between you and the woman,
    and between your offspring and her offspring.
He will strike your head,
    and you will strike his heel.

Genesis 3:15  NLT

You see, because of the disobedience of one man, every generation thereafter, has suffered the consequences of his rebellion.  Every single one of us has been born into sin.  We all have a sinful nature, because of Adam and Eve’s one “little” sin.  Yet, God, in His mercy, has given us the hope for redemption.  He has made a way for us to walk with Him, and talk with Him, and to have everlasting life…

18 Yes, Adam’s one sin brings condemnation for everyone, but Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone. 19 Because one person disobeyed God, many became sinners. But because one other person obeyed God, many will be made righteous.

Romans 5:18-19  NLT

38 Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 This promise is to you, to your children, and to those far away—all who have been called by the Lord our God.”

Acts 2:38-39  NLT

If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved. 11 As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in Him will never be disgraced.” 12 Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They have the same Lord, who gives generously to all who call on Him. 13 For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Romans 10:9-13  NLT

Beloved, today is the day of salvation.  Don’t let sin destroy your life and the lives of who knows how many other people.  Repent, and call on the name of the Lord, and you will be saved.

© 2016
Cheryl A. Showers

Duggar’s 19 Kids and Counting Canceled: My Response to the Revelation of Child Molestation Committed by Josh Duggar & His Family’s Response to the Revelation

Josh Duggar

“Twelve years ago, as a young teenager I acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret. I hurt others, including my family and close friends. I confessed this to my parents who took several steps to help me address the situation. We spoke with the authorities where I confessed my wrongdoing and my parents arranged for me and those affected by my actions to receive counseling. I understood that if I continued down this wrong road that I would end up ruining my life. I sought forgiveness from those I had wronged and asked Christ to forgive me and come into my life. I would do anything to go back to those teen years and take different actions. In my life today, I am so very thankful for God’s grace, mercy and redemption.”  (Josh Duggar – May 21, 2015)


If you live in the U.S., and you have access to newspapers, magazines, the internet or television, then by now, you’ve no doubt heard about Josh Duggar’s shocking statement, in response to allegations of child molestation.  Many people have commented and weighed in on this subject, with some valid points and some foolish ones.  This is an extremely difficult situation, for the victims of Duggar’s actions, first and foremost.  It is also extremely difficult for his parents, the siblings who weren’t molested, as well as Josh’s wife and children.  Many people have already cast judgment on Josh Duggar and his parents, and while I can’t judge the Duggar’s hearts, what can be judged is their behavior at the time Josh molested five different girls, and their behavior now.  In judging their behavior, let us remember that it is the responsibility of Christians, to help our brothers and sisters in Christ, when they fall into sin…


Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself.  (Galatians 6:1  NLT)

20 “If righteous people turn away from their righteous behavior and ignore the obstacles I put in their way, they will die. And if you do not warn them, they will die in their sins. None of their righteous acts will be remembered, and I will hold you responsible for their deaths. 21 But if you warn righteous people not to sin and they listen to you and do not sin, they will live, and you will have saved yourself, too.”  (Ezekiel 3:20-21  NLT)


As a former victim of child molestation, I feel compelled to share my thoughts on this indredibly painful topic.  First, I’d like to address the announcement that Josh made.  One thing that jumps out to me in his account is the fact that Josh appears to tiptoe around the subject.  While he comes across as sounding regretful and repentant, there is a part of me that questions Josh’s sincerity.  If you glance at Josh’s statement, he seems to address the issue, but read it again.

Never once does Josh confess his sin, which is all over the tabloids.  Not once, does Josh admit to molesting anyone or committing incest, not to mention pedophilia.  Instead, he merely says, “I acted inexcusably…”  A teenager acting inexcusably could be guilty of any number of offenses, ranging from minor ones to major ones.  Perhaps, you think I’m being too picky, and that Josh’s disclosure of his “inexcusable actions” is enough.  However, the fact is that he hasn’t said enough.  In his statement to the press, Josh never really confessed to the crimes of molestation, pedophilia and incest that he allegedly committed.  Is it necessary for him to say the words?  Absolutely.  Just as an alcoholic needs to confess that he/she is an alcoholic, so too, a pedophile and a child molester must admit that he/she is a pedophile and a child molester.


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


According to scripture, we must confess our sins in order to be forgiven.  According to dictionary.com, the definition of confess is:


verb (used with object)

  1. to acknowledge oavow (a fault, crime, misdeed, weakness, etc.) by way of revelation.
  2. to own or admit as true:
    I must confess that I haven’t read the book.
  3. to declare or acknowledge (one’s sins)especially to God or a priest in order to obtain absolution.
  4. (of a priest) to hear the confession of (a person).
  5. to acknowledge one’s belief or faith in; declare adherence to.
  6. to reveal by circumstances.
  verb (used without object)
  1. to make a confession; plead guilty; own:  to confess to a crime.
  2. to make a confession of sins, especially to a priest.
  3. (of a priest) to hear confession.

According to the above definition, when Josh Duggar gave his press report, he did not confess to, or own the crime he committed.  He only admitted to acting inexcusably.  Many of us have acted inexcusably, but our inexcusable actions did not include child molestation or incest.  Josh Duggar needs to own and confess what he has done, without hiding behind words that are meant to minimize the crime, so that it doesn’t sound as bad as it is.

Another thing that greatly disturbed me when I read Josh’s statement was this comment:


“… I understood that if I continued down this wrong road that I would end up ruining my life…” (Josh Duggar – May 21, 2015)


Perhaps you’re wondering how I could possibly find this statement disturbing, but I urge you to read his entire statement, and take note on whom he focused.  Josh understood that if he continued down that road, he would end up ruining his life.  He’s absolutely right.  He may well have ruined his life with those actions, but what about the lives of his victims?

Regardless of whether he continued on that path, he certainly, at the very least, damaged the lives of his victims.  And who, besides God and Josh, truly knows how many other victims there were?  We do know that Josh’s actions have already harmed the lives of at least five, not including the rest of his brothers and sisters, his parents, his wife, and the babysitter and her family, as well.

I also found it terribly disturbing that in their interview on  The Kelly Files,  Mr. and Mrs. Duggar repeatedly minimized the seriousness of their son’s crime against his victims, two of whom were their own daughters!

duggars_kelly


J.B. Duggar:  “… And the girls, we talked to them, and they didn’t know that anything had happened because they were asleep…”

Kelly:  “Like when you went to bed at night during that time frame, were you scared?  Were you worried?  You know, he’s 14, he’s having this problem.  What’s going to happen when we go to sleep?”

J.B. Duggar:  “Right.  Nothing ever happened like that again in the girls’ bedrooms after that.”

Kelly:  “Ok.”

J.B. Duggar: “Ok.  So, we had safeguards that protected them from that.  But there was another incident where — two different incidents where the girls were, like, laying on the couch, and it was — he had touched, like, over the couch and actually touched their breast while they were asleep.  And so –“

M. Duggar:  “Over their clothes.”

J.B. Duggar:  “– over their clothes. And so it was a very difficult situation. But as we talked to other parents and different ones since then, a lot of families have said that they’ve had similar things happen in their families. And so — I mean, this is, for us, of course, this is public shame that our son did this back 12, 13 years ago…”

J.B. Duggar:  “… All of theseagain, this was not rape or anything like that, this was like touching somebody over their clothes. There were a couple incidents where he touched them under their clothes, but it was like a few seconds and then he came to us and was crying and told us what happened, and it was after that third time he came to us is where we really felt like, you know what?…”

Kelly:  “And we’ll going to get to that in one second. The subsequent incidents after the first one involved daughters who were awake, at least a couple of them?”

J. B. DUGGAR:  “There was a couple, yes. And they didn’t really understand, though, what happened.

Kelly:  “Yes. What –“

M. Duggar:  “It was more his heart, his intent. He knew that it was wrong. But in theirs they weren’t even aware. They were like, you know, it wasn’t — to them they didn’t probably even understand that it was an improper touch.”

Kelly:  “I know that the ultimate one before you really got help involved a very young daughter, and I’ll avoid the age because I don’t want to identify anyone specifically, but a single digit. I mean, what was that like for you to hear? You know, one, you must have thought for some time this is a pubescent boy, I don’t know what he’s going through, but he’s testing. But when it moves to a young daughter –“

J. B. Duggar:  “Right. At that point, that’s when we pulled him out of the house and we said, he can’t be here. And so, we pulled him out and then, he went through working with that man –“

Kelly:  “Yes. He goes through counseling.”

J. B. Duggar:  “Yes.”

Kelly:  “And then when he was done with the counseling, this is not like a licensed therapist, it’s somebody, a Christian-based –“

J. B. Duggar:  “Christian based. But I’ll tell you why.”

Kelly:  “Treatment facility…”


Kelly:  “… I’m asking you more as the father of your girls than as the father of Josh. You know, it must have been very hard to look at your little one and know the behavior had been ongoing, as difficult as your position was.”

J. B. Duggar: “Right. I was so thankful, though, that Josh came and told us. And our girls, even though this was a very bad situation, as we’ve talked to other families who have had, you know, other things happen, a lot of their stories were even worse…


To read the entire transcript of the Duggar’s interview, please click this link:

kelly_duggar_060415

The repeated minimization of Josh Duggar’s criminal actions against his sisters is disturbing.  In much the same way that King David, of Old Testament times, ignored the brutal assault that his son, Amnon, committed against his half-sister, Tamar, the Duggar’s also appear to ignore and minimize the traumatizing effects of their son, Josh’s, sexual assault against their daughters.  Indeed, protecting and defending their son’s reputation seems to be more important to them, than acknowledging the seriousness of the crime committed against their daughters.

As a matter of fact, the following statement, made by J.B. Duggar, shows just how out of touch with reality they are…


J.B. DUGGAR: I think you actually said pedophile, and a pedophile is an adult that preys on children. Josh was actually 14 and just turned 15 when he did what he did, and I think the legal definition was 16 and up for being an adult preying on a child. So he was a child preying on a child.

KELLY: You do not view Josh as a pedophile?

J.B. DUGGAR: No.


Just to clarify, Wikipedia provides this definition of pedophilia:

Pedophilia or paedophilia is psychiatric disorder in which an adult or older adolescent experiences a primary or exclusive sexual attraction to prepubescent children, generally age 11 years or younger.[1][2] As a medical diagnosis, specific criteria for the disorder extend the cut-off point for prepubescence to age 13.[1] A person who is diagnosed with pedophilia must be at least 16 years of age, but adolescents must be at least five years older than the prepubescent child for the attraction to be diagnosed as pedophilia.[1][2]


While it may be true that Josh committed these crimes when he was between the ages of fourteen and fifteen, at least one of the children was more than five years younger than he was.  Furthermore, what difference does one year or two make in a situation like this?  Let’s remember that Josh molested one of his sister’s, who was under ten years old.

The Duggar’s appeared to be more concerned about the release of Josh’s records, than the crimes he had committed against his sisters.  Quite frankly, this whole situation is troubling to me, though many Duggar’s fans claim that they are being unfairly attacked because of their Christianity.  I’m a Christian, and I find both Josh’s actions and their response to his actions terribly troublesome.

I believe the Duggars mishandled this situation from the very beginning.  Josh Duggar should be on the sexual predators list, just like all others who commit the same crimes.  Also, because of the nature of his crimes, he should never be left alone with children, who are unable to protect themselves.

Perhaps you think I’m being too hard on Josh Duggar and his family, but I would suggest that they did not then, and still have not taken this situation seriously enough.  I love the Lord, and I’m not questioning their faith in God, but consider this… 

Suppose there was a really nice young man at your church, who taught Sunday School, or worked in the nursery, and his background was just like Josh Duggar’s?  Would you, as a parent, feel comfortable leaving your children in the care of this man, who says he is a Christian, and he’s turned his life around, or would you remove your child from his class?  Knowing this person’s background, I believe that any parent who left their children in the care of someone who had committed incest and pedophelia, would be grossly negligent.  

Even if this person had totally turned his life around and given his heart to the Lord, I would not leave my child alone with him, because even after we are saved, we still struggle with temptation, and though I pray Josh has truly changed, to risk a child’s well being, when only God truly knows his heart would be a sin.  You see, up until very recently, this was something that was hidden in the dark, and it wasn’t Josh who brought it into the light.  He was content to leave it in the darkness, and because God hasn’t revealed whether or not it is now safe for Josh to be alone with children, I reiterate that it would be sinful and grossly negligent to leave a child alone with him.

19-kids-and-counting

Because of this scandal, TLC has now cancelled the Duggar’s hit television series, 19 Kids and Countingand I believe it was the right decision.  While I understand that many Christians love the Duggar’s show, and they see a double standard here, believing that this cancellation is an attack on Christianity, again, I disagree.  Should the Duggar’s be held to a lesser accountability than other television stars, who have fallen in disgrace due to their sins?  Should they be allowed to continue to air their show, when Bill Cosby, for instance, who has been accused of drugging and raping numerous women over the years, has had his syndicated series’ cancelled?  I would have to say no.  

Friends, let us remember that we, as followers of Christ, are held to a higher degree of accountability than the world is, and although we may have sinned and committed crimes before our salvation, we are not exempt from the consequences of those sins and crimes, just because we are born again.  Accepting Christ as our Savior does not give us a “Get out of Jail Free” card.  What we receive instead, is a much greater gift, instead.  For, when we are saved and delivered from our sins, we receive eternal life, and a “Get out of Hell Free” card.

I won’t deny that this scandal tripped many triggers in me, due to my past.  However, I’m not condemning Josh Duggar or his parents.  I truly do pray that he has turned his life around with help from the Lord.  I also pray that Mr. and Mrs. Duggar will stop minimizing the incest and molestation committed by Josh against their children and their babysitter, and face the true scope of their son’s sin, and the harm that was done to the victims, so that all of them can truly heal from their pain.  

As for my fellow believers, let us all agree to pray for deliverance and healing for everyone who was involved in this crime, both the victims, their families, and the perpetrator and his family. 

© 2015
Cheryl A. Showers

Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 6

Image Credit: The Erratic Muse
Image Credit:
The Erratic Muse

Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, 2 but early the next morning He was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and He sat down and taught them. 3 As He was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd.

4 “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 The law of Moses says to stone her. What do You say?”

Image Credit: this fragile tent
Image Credit:
this fragile tent

6 They were trying to trap Him into saying something they could use against Him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with His finger. 7 They kept demanding an answer, so He stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” 8 Then He stooped down again and wrote in the dust.

9 When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. 10 Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”

11 “No, Lord,” she said.

And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” ~ John 8:1-11 — NLT ~

the stoning of sorayaThis story has always moved me deeply, but never more than now, after having watched, “The Stoning of Soraya M.”a true story about an Iranian woman falsely accused of adultery by her adulterous husband and stoned to death. As I watched this heartrending story of the atrocities committed in the name of Islamic law, I couldn’t help but think of a very familiar and similar story of the adulterous woman in the book of John.  I also couldn’t help but think of the Mosaic Law, which carried the same punishment for adultery as the Islamic law, and compare it to the Law of the New Covenant, which those who are born-again now live under.

In this series, Live By the Law/Die By the Lawwe have learned much about the Old Testament Law, as we examined whether we are called to Live By the Law and Die By the Law or not…

  • Image Credit: Anna Popescu
    Image Credit:
    Anna Popescu

    In Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 1we learned that the Law does not have the power to save us, for salvation comes only by the grace of God, through faith in Jesus Christ.

  • In Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 2we learned that God gave the Jews Ten Commandments, (also known as the Law of Moses and The Old Testament or Old Covenant), and from these ten Laws, the Jews created 613 laws, (known as the Tradition of the Elders), which were meant to supplement the Law of Moses.
  • In Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 3we began an in depth study of the first two Commandments…
    • “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me.” ~ Exodus 20:2-3 — NKJV ~
    • “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My Commandments.” ~ Exodus 20:4-6 — NKJV ~
  • Image Credit: Groupthink Rescue
    Image Credit:
    Groupthink Rescue

    In Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 4we continued our in depth study of the Ten Commandments, starting from the third Commandment and ending with the tenth…

    • “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.” ~ Exodus 20:7 — NKJV ~
    • “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.” ~ Exodus 20:8-11 — NKJV ~
    • “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.” ~ Exodus 20:12 — NKJV ~
    • “You shall not murder.” ~ Exodus 20:13 — NKJV ~
    • “You shall not commit adultery.” ~ Exodus 20:14 — NKJV ~
    • “You shall not steal.” ~ Exodus 20:15 — NKJV ~
    • “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” ~ Exodus 20:16 — NKJV ~
    • “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.” ~ Exodus 20:17 — NKJV ~
  • In Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 5we discovered that the purpose of the Law was to show people their sins, and that it was only supposed to last until Jesus, the Christ came. It was never intended to be an eternal law.

the stoning of soraya 2

Never did it become more clear to me just how very wonderful and merciful our Lord is than after I watched “The Stoning of Soraya M.” last night. You see, if we still lived under the Old Covenant, then not only would we be bound to obey every command, we would also suffer the  punishment meted out for every command that we break… According to Old Testament Law, we would be subjected to stoning if we committed any of the following sins…

    • 13 “Suppose a man marries a woman, but after sleeping with her, he turns against her 14 and publicly accuses her of shameful conduct, saying, ‘When I married this woman, I discovered she was not a virgin.’ 15 Then the woman’s father and mother must bring the proof of her virginity to the elders as they hold court at the town gate. 16 Her father must say to them, ‘I gave my daughter to this man to be his wife, and now he has turned against her. 17 He has accused her of shameful conduct, saying, “I discovered that your daughter was not a virgin.” But here is the proof of my daughter’s virginity.’ Then they must spread her bed sheet before the elders. 18 The elders must then take the man and punish him. 19 They must also fine him 100 pieces of silver, which he must pay to the woman’s father because he publicly accused a virgin of Israel of shameful conduct. The woman will then remain the man’s wife, and he may never divorce her.

20 But suppose the man’s accusations are true, and he can show that she was not a virgin. 21 The woman must be taken to the door of her father’s home, and there the men of the town must stone her to death, for she has committed a disgraceful crime in Israel by being promiscuous while living in her parents’ home. In this way, you will purge this evil from among you. ~ Deuteronomy 22:13-21 — NLT ~

    • 2 When you begin living in the towns the Lord your God is giving you, a man or woman among you might do evil in the sight of the Lord your God and violate the covenant. 3 For instance, they might serve other gods or worship the sun, the moon, or any of the stars—the forces of heaven—which I have strictly forbidden. 4 When you hear about it, investigate the matter thoroughly. If it is true that this detestable thing has been done in Israel, 5 then the man or woman who has committed such an evil act must be taken to the gates of the town and stoned to death. 6 But never put a person to death on the testimony of only one witness. There must always be two or three witnesses. 7 The witnesses must throw the first stones, and then all the people may join in. In this way, you will purge the evil from among you. ~ Deuteronomy 17:2-7 — NLT ~

    • 18 “Suppose a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey his father or mother, even though they discipline him. 19 In such a case, the father and mother must take the son to the elders as they hold court at the town gate. 20 The parents must say to the elders, ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious and refuses to obey. He is a glutton and a drunkard.’ 21 Then all the men of his town must stone him to death. In this way, you will purge this evil from among you, and all Israel will hear about it and be afraid. ~ Deuteronomy 21:18-21 — NLT ~

The examples above are just a few of the reasons that  someone who lives under the Law of Moses and The Tradition of the Elders could be stoned. There are numerous other punishments and judgments meted out against those who break the Law, and each punishment seems quite harsh, especially to those with a western mindset. To those who reside in the Middle East, they are deemed appropriate. Indeed, as the movie, “The Stoning of Soraya M.”revealed, these punishments are still leveled against people.

woman-caught-in-adultery (1)This is why Jesus’ response to the adulterous woman was considered to be so radical. Not only did He refuse to condemn her for the sin she committed, He turned the tables on those who wanted to condemn her with His challenge…

… “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” ~ John 8:7b — NLT ~

Suddenly, instead of looking at this woman, who was caught in the very act of adultery, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees were forced to look inward, and examine themselves. No one knows what Jesus wrote on the ground, whether it was related to their accusation or perhaps their own sins, or not. All that is known, is that the powerful words He spoke forced each of her accusers to stop.

Who, among them, had the right to pick up a stone and throw it? Who, among them, could be brazen enough to cast the first stone, thereby administering the punishment she surely deserved, when by doing so, he would be declaring before God and his cohorts that he had never sinned? I can  just imagine the youngest ones, full of zeal and self-righteousness, respectfully waiting for one of their elders to cast the first stone, so they too, could join in, only to witness each one drop his stone  to the dry and barren ground, as the very oldest left with their heads bowed low in defeat and consternation. As each one of the elders left, one by one, the younger condemners were also constrained to realize that they had no more right to throw the first stone at the woman than their senior counterparts.

Image Credit: glogster.com
Image Credit:
glogster.com

Now, in case you’re wondering where I’m going with this post, and how it ties in with the series Live By the Law/Die By the Lawplease allow me to enlighten you. There are many, many men and women born-again believers who get caught up in trying to live by the Law. Now, please don’t misunderstand me, God loves it when we obey Him, but He does not love it when we get so caught up in trying to live by every jot and tittle of the Law, and we also place that demand on others. You see, living by faith and living by the Law may produce the same outward effects, but the difference between the two lies within the hearts of mankind.

1 Oh, foolish Galatians! Who has cast an evil spell on you? For the meaning of Jesus Christ’s death was made as clear to you as if you had seen a picture of His death on the cross. 2 Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the Law of Moses? Of course not! You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ. 3 How foolish can you be? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort? 4 Have you experienced so much for nothing? Surely it was not in vain, was it?

5 I ask you again, does God give you the Holy Spirit and work miracles among you because you obey the Law? Of course not! It is because you believe the message you heard about Christ.

6 In the same way, “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.”7 The real children of Abraham, then, are those who put their faith in God. ~ Galatians 3:1-7 — NLT ~

You see, one who lives by  the Law does so because he/she is trying to gain the approval of God and mankind. One might try to obey every letter of the Law in order to receive the accolades of man. Or one may try to obey the Law for fear that if he/she doesn’t, he/she may lose his/her salvation. A person who lives by the Law may do so because he/she believes that he/she must be an example for others to follow. One who lives by the Law is usually self-righteous, and lacking humility, though this person may not even realize it. A person who follows the Law often sees the sin in others, and sometimes feels superior to those who just don’t “get it.”

10 But those who depend on the Law to make them right with God are under His curse, for the Scriptures say, “Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey all the commands that are written in God’s Book of the Law.” 11 So it is clear that no one can be made right with God by trying to keep the Law. For the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.” 12 This way of faith is very different from the way of Law, which says, “It is through obeying the Law that a person has life.”

13 But Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the Law. When He was hung on the cross, He took upon Himself the curse for our wrongdoing. For it is written in the Scriptures, “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” 14 Through Christ Jesus, God has blessed the Gentiles with the same blessing He promised to Abraham, so that we who are believers might receive the promised Holy Spirit through faith. ~ Galatians 3:10-14 — NLT ~

On the other hand, one who lives by faith walks in obedience because he/she loves the Lord, and it feels good to do those things that please Him. One who walks by faith does so regardless of what others may say. This person walks in the Spirit, doing those things He leads him/her to do, confident that he/she is a child of the Most High God, saved by His grace through faith. This person knows that his/her salvation has nothing to do with his/her behavior, and that he/she did not choose Christ because it was Christ who chose him/her. The person who lives by grace is humble, fully aware that he/she is no better than anyone, even the vilest sinner. 

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

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

5 But we who live by the Spirit eagerly wait to receive by faith the righteousness God has promised to us. 6 For when we place our faith in Christ Jesus, there is no benefit in being circumcised or being uncircumcised. What is important is faith expressing itself in love. ~ Galatians 5:1-6 — NLT ~

Beloved readers, the whole point of this post and of this series, Live By the Law/Die By the Lawis that those who choose to live according to the Law rather than by the Spirit, must understand that they will then be judged according to the Law, and it is important to remember that there is no one who is righteous. Other than Jesus Christ, no one has ever obeyed the entire Law.

20 For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the Law commands. The Law simply shows us how sinful we are. ~ Romans 3:20 — NLT ~

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. ~ Romans 3:21 — NLT ~

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 reader, I am not saying that the Law is evil. What I am saying is that we must live by the Spirit, not by the Law. I’ll close with the following scripture, and I encourage you to pray about this post, and seek the Lord’s face regarding what we have studied here.

30 There is only one God, and He makes people right with Himself only by faith, whether they are Jews or Gentiles. 31 Well then, if we emphasize faith, does this mean that we can forget about the law? Of course not! In fact, only when we have faith do we truly fulfill the law. ~ Romans 3:30-31 — NLT ~

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 5

Image Credit: Jeff Hughes
Image Credit:
Jeff Hughes

In Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 3 and Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 4we studied each of the Ten Commandments, and its meanings. We also examined our own hearts to see which of the laws we have been guilty of breaking, as I confessed to you that I have been guilty of breaking all of God’s Laws. Of course, I don’t know if you’re aware of this or not, but even if you have only ever broken one command of the Law of Moses, you’re just as guilty as I am, according to Scripture.

For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God’s laws. ~ James 2:10 — NLT ~

Image Credit: M. Leone Bracker
Image Credit:
M. Leone Bracker

Before we move on with our study of the Law, I want to share a comment that I received in reference to the third commandment, from a fellow blogger and biblical teacher, Ben Nelson, author of the blog, Another Red Letter Day. The third commandment is, “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain,” and I offered up several examples of what it is to take the Lord’s name in vain. However, Ben offered an excellent example that I hadn’t thought of until I read his comment. In fact, for me, it was an “aha” moment, and because it is so prevalent among many people, I felt that it was very important to share his comment with you. Ben stated, “I have often thought along the lines that Taking the Lord’s name is when I take the name of Christ as my own – aka – i am a Christian, and then i live like the world – i have taken His name and polluted it before men.” I have nothing to add to this or take away from it. Ben is right, and this is an excellent example of how many people take the Lord’s name in vain. Indeed, it’s an excellent example of how I once took the Lord’s name in vain.

Now, in our continuing study of the Law, we’ve reached the point where we discover that each and every one of us is guilty of breaking the Law. Indeed, the Law’s purpose is to reveal our guilt, and it does this well…

Why, then, was the Law given? It was given alongside the promise to show people their sins. But the Law was designed to last only until the coming of the Child who was promised. God gave His Law through angels to Moses, who was the mediator between God and the people. ~ Galatians 3:19 — NLT ~

Now, we must understand if we are to continue trying to follow the Law, or should we just cast it aside? Are we required to maintain the Law, in order to maintain our salvation? If we choose one, do we lose the other? How can we determine what we are required to do? What does the Word of God tell us about the Law?

Image Credit: parablesblog.blogspot.com
Image Credit:
parablesblog.blogspot.com

31 “The day is coming,” says the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah. 32 This covenant will not be like the one I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and brought them out of the land of Egypt. They broke that covenant, though I loved them as a husband loves his wife,” says the Lord.

33 “But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day,” says the Lord. “I will put My instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be My people. 34 And they will not need to teach their neighbors, nor will they need to teach their relatives, saying, ‘You should know the Lord.’ For everyone, from the least to the greatest, will know Me already,” says the Lord. “And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.” ~ Jeremiah 31:31-34 — NLT ~

According to this scripture passage, the Law of Moses was not an eternal law. It was only temporary, lasting until God’s new covenant was established. Also, according to Galatians 3:19, the Law was only designed to last until Jesus came. 

14 He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. 15 In this way, He disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by His victory over them on the cross.

16 So don’t let anyone condemn you for what you eat or drink, or for not celebrating certain holy days or new moon ceremonies or Sabbaths. 17 For these rules are only shadows of the reality yet to come. And Christ Himself is that reality. 18 Don’t let anyone condemn you by insisting on pious self-denial or the worship of angels, saying they have had visions about these things. Their sinful minds have made them proud, 19 and they are not connected to Christ, the head of the body. For He holds the whole body together with its joints and ligaments, and it grows as God nourishes it.

20 You have died with Christ, and He has set you free from the spiritual powers of this world. So why do you keep on following the rules of the world, such as, 21 “Don’t handle! Don’t taste! Don’t touch!”? 22 Such rules are mere human teachings about things that deteriorate as we use them. 23 These rules may seem wise because they require strong devotion, pious self-denial, and severe bodily discipline. But they provide no help in conquering a person’s evil desires. ~ Colossians 2:14-23 — NLT ~

Beloved readers, don’t you see that the Law was given to reveal mankind’s sinful nature, but Jesus cancelled the record of charges against us, by nailing them to the cross? Think about this, the Law has NO power to save anyone. It is the blood of Christ that has saved us from bondage to sin and death, certainly not because we follow the Law. 

Indeed, by following the rules of the world, we do no one any good, because these rules provide no help in conquering a person’s evil desires. As a matter of fact, it was Christ’s death on the cross that destroyed the enmity between Jews and Gentiles, and because of His death on the cross, those who believe in Him have been set free from the Law of sin and death. Therefore, why would His followers continue to subject themselves to the Law, which led to death?

14 For Christ Himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in His own body on the cross, He broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. 15 He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations. He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in Himself one new people from the two groups. 16 Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of His death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death. ~ Ephesians 2:14-16 — NLT ~

7 The old way, with laws etched in stone, led to death, though it began with such glory that the people of Israel could not bear to look at Moses’ face. For his face shone with the glory of God, even though the brightness was already fading away. 8 Shouldn’t we expect far greater glory under the new way, now that the Holy Spirit is giving life? 9 If the old way, which brings condemnation, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new way, which makes us right with God! 10 In fact, that first glory was not glorious at all compared with the overwhelming glory of the new way. 11 So if the old way, which has been replaced, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new, which remains forever!

12 Since this new way gives us such confidence, we can be very bold. 13 We are not like Moses, who put a veil over his face so the people of Israel would not see the glory, even though it was destined to fade away. 14 But the people’s minds were hardened, and to this day whenever the old covenant is being read, the same veil covers their minds so they cannot understand the truth. And this veil can be removed only by believing in Christ~ 2 Corinthians 3:7-14 — NLT ~

Image Credit: meanmesa.com
Image Credit:
meanmesa.com

Beloved, does a veil cover your eyes? Do you see that the Law brings only death? If so, turn your eyes upon Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. Look to Him for salvation, and love Him with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength. For those who truly love Christ and walk in His Spirit will obey His commands, which are to love the Lord with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. If we love Jesus and follow these commands, then we are following the Law that God has written on  our hearts, rather than the Law written on stone tablets, which were destined to fade away. 

Therefore, beloved brothers and sisters, will you choose to live by the Law and therefore die by the Law? Or will you choose to love the Lord Jesus with your whole heart, thereby fulfilling His Law? The choice is yours… 

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 4

For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the Law commands. The Law simply shows us how sinful we are. ~ Romans 3:20 — NLT ~

In Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 3we studied the first and second commandments and how each one exposes the sin within us. In this post, today, let’s look at the other Commandments in light of the scripture above…

Exodus 20:2-17
~ 3 ~

“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.”

Image Credit: Jeremy Myers
Image Credit:
Jeremy Myers

Okay friends, I’m sure everyone thought of those people who curse using God’s name, am I right? I don’t know about you, but I confess, that I was guilty of doing this before I came to the Lord, and even as a young Christian.

But, have I broken this commandment since then? Sadly, if I’m to be completely truthful, yes, but not by cussing using His name. To take God’s name in  vain is so much more than using His name as an expletive. Have you ever spoken in His name, when He didn’t tell you to do so? Have you ever presumed to speak for Him, without His permission? Have you ever said, “O my God” or “Jesus”? Have you ever spoken His name thoughtlessly, without really thinking of Him at all? Have you ever prophesied to someone, telling them, “The Lord said…” when in reality, you didn’t Him speak?

My friends, all of those things are examples of what it is to take the Lord’s name in vain, and I confess to you that I have taken His name in vain, and I’m so thankful for His mercy on me.

~ 4 ~

Image Credit: Groupthink Rescue
Image Credit:
Groupthink Rescue

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.”

Well, my friends, have you ever or do you break this command? Now, I can just hear some people saying, “I go to church every Sunday, so this is one command that I don’t break.” But, I’m going to question that… Does going to church on Sundays equate to remembering the Sabbath day and keeping it holy?

When you get up on Sunday morning and get ready for church, how are you feeling? Do you awaken with joy in your heart, feeling well rested and thankful that this is the day that the Lord has made? As you’re preparing yourself for church, is there aught in your heart against anyone? As you are on your way to go and worship, have you already begun to worship? Are you thinking about God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, or are you thinking of who you will see when you get there? Are you already singing His praises, or are you irritated with your children? As you enter into His sanctuary, were you glad when they said, “Let us go into the House of the Lord?” 

While the service is going on, are you seeking the Lord’s face, or is your mind wandering? Are you intent on worshiping the Lord, or are you bored? As the word is being preached, are you thinking about what you’re going to have for lunch? When you leave the worship service, is your mind still set on the Lord, or are you thinking of other things? Do you spend the rest of the day resting and thinking of the goodness of God, or do you spend the rest of the day thinking of other things?

Honestly, in light of this, I seldom remember the Sabbath and keep it holy. How about you?

~ 5 ~

Image Credit: Holly Barrett
Image Credit:
Holly Barrett

“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.”

Now, maybe you’re thinking that this one doesn’t need any explanation, and perhaps you’re right. It’s easy to honor parents who were good to you, but what if you come from a dysfunctional family? How do you honor a father who abused you? How do you honor a mother who didn’t protect you? Or how do you honor a father who abandoned you? How do you honor a mother who turned tricks for a living?

Does it honor them to hold a grudge against them? Of course not. We all know that Jesus commands us to forgive others as our Heavenly Father forgives us. And what if you forgive your parents for hurting you, but they never repent of their behavior? Does it honor them for you to pretend the abuse never happened? Does it honor them for you to continue allowing them to abuse you?

Oftentimes, church leaders can harm those members who have been abused, by heaping guilt on them because they do not have a close relationship with their parents. Sometimes, they will insinuate that you haven’t truly forgiven them, because you don’t visit them or talk to them, and often, they will cite the fifth commandment when doing so.

I want to speak to those of you who want to do the right thing, and yet you struggle, because you don’t know how to honor parents who have been less than honorable. I speak to you as one who has struggled with the same issues. I loved my parents, despite years of abuse, and no repentance, and I forgave them. I spent many years apart from my parents, while much of my family judged me as a bad daughter, because they didn’t know of the abuse. The fact is they probably still feel that way, because most still don’t know.

So, how did I honor my parents? I honored them by staying away. I honored them by refusing to pretend the abuse didn’t happen. I honored them by respecting their wishes when my stepfather told me to leave and never come back. I honored them by staying away, so they wouldn’t feel so uncomfortable around me, and by staying away from the rest of the family and letting them believe the worst of me, so they wouldn’t turn against my parents.

I honored them by obeying the Lord’s gentle prodding to enter back into their lives the last couple of years they lived. I honored them by forgiving them each time they added to my hurt. I honored them by loving them, even though they never said the three words I desperately longed to hear, “I’m sorry, Cheryl.” I honor them by continuing to love them.

Is this how I recommend others, who have been hurt and abused by their parents, to act? Partially. I understand that every circumstance is different, and our heavenly Father understands that as well. My only two recommendations for you are to love and forgive your parents. By doing this, you honor them. As far as the rest goes, treat your parents as you would want your children to treat you, and by doing this, you will honor them, regardless of whether they are good or bad parents.

Have you broken this commandment? I did, many times, but by God’s grace, I learned to honor my parents.

~ 6 ~

Image Credit: M. Leone Bracker
Image Credit:
M. Leone Bracker

“You shall not murder.”

I know, most of you think you haven’t broken that commandment, but I’ll be honest and confess to you that I have. In fact, you could say that I’m a serial killer, in light of these scriptures…

Anyone who hates another brother or sister is really a murderer at heart. And you know that murderers don’t have eternal life within them. ~ 1 John 3:15 — NLT ~

21 “You have heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’ 22 But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell. ~ Matthew 5:21-22 — NLT ~

Beloved readers, are any of you as guilty of breaking this commandment as I am?

~ 7 ~

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Image Credit:
beyeready.org

“You shall not commit adultery.”

Beloved readers, before you say you haven’t broken this commandment, let’s look at Jesus’ definition of the command…

27 “You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. ~ Matthew 5:27-28 — NLT ~

In light of Jesus’ definition of adultery, have you broken this law?

~ 8 ~

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Image Credit:
wholeworldinhishands.com

“You shall not steal.”

When I was young, I used to “borrow” my mother’s jewelry and makeup, and wear it to school. Whenever my conscience pricked me, I would reason that I was only “borrowing” her things, and that I would put it back. However, the fact is that I knew my mother did not want me to take her things, and if she ever found out, I would be toast.  I knew that what I was doing was wrong, and I also knew that when you take something that isn’t yours, without the owner giving you permission to take it, then it is stealing.

I knew this, even though I wasn’t a Christian yet. I knew this because even though I didn’t yet know Christ, God’s law was written on my heart.

14 Even Gentiles, who do not have God’s written law, show that they know His law when they instinctively obey it, even without having heard it. 15 They demonstrate that God’s law is written in their hearts, for their own conscience and thoughts either accuse them or tell them they are doing right. 16 And this is the message I proclaim—that the day is coming when God, through Christ Jesus, will judge everyone’s secret life. ~ Romans 2:14-16 — NLT ~

Not only that, when you work for someone, if you lie about the hours you work, it is stealing. If you spend the time you are being paid to work, doing other things, you are robbing the person who pays you. If you take anything that belongs to your place of employment, it is stealing.

Have you ever “borrowed” something without asking for the owner’s permission first? Have you ever goofed off or slacked off, when you should have been working? Beloved readers, that’s stealing. Have you ever broken this command?

~ 9 ~

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Image Credit:
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“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”

Have you ever lied and said someone did something that they didn’t do? As a child, this was one of my worst traits. I can’t tell you the number of times that I blamed my younger sister for the things that I did. Of course I would excuse myself by reasoning that since she was the favored child, she wouldn’t be beaten or punished as severely as I would have been, but even though this may have been true, it couldn’t cleanse me from the guilt I felt for lying and bearing false witness against my sister. Beloved reader, has there ever been a time in your life when you bore false witness against someone else?

~ 10 ~

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.” 

Gollum by: DarDesign
Gollum
by: DarDesign

Have you ever wanted something that belonged to someone else? Have you ever thought to yourself that the other person doesn’t deserve that treasure as much as you do? Beloved readers, that’s coveting. Have you ever broken this command?

In the last post and this post, we reviewed the Law of Moses, also known as the Ten Commandments, and I don’t know about you, but I’m guilty of breaking every single command. Indeed, every time I study the Ten Commandments, I realize once again, how terribly I’ve sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, just as this Scripture tells us…

For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the Law commands. The Law simply shows us how sinful we are.~ Romans 3:20 — NLT ~

Friends, the Law was never meant to save us. The reason God created the Law was to do exactly what it says in the Scripture above. It was meant to show us how sinful we are…

Why, then, was the Law given? It was given alongside the promise to show people their sins. But the Law was designed to last only until the coming of the Child who was promised. God gave His Law through angels to Moses, who was the mediator between God and the people. ~ Galatians 3:19 — NLT ~

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Image Credit:
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Beloved, the Law of Moses was only designed to last until the Child, Christ Jesus, came. My friends, He has come, gone back to heaven, and is coming again, and He fulfilled every single one of the Law’s commands. Therefore, what are we to do with the Law, now? Should we turn our backs on it and live in complete disobedience to it? May it never be! We’ll look for the answer to this question in Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 5.

Meanwhile, continue to seek the Lord, study His word, and pray fervently for Him to open the eyes of your heart, so that He will give you an understanding of His will for your life. May God bless you as you not only learn and gain an understanding of His word, but as you also apply His word to your life.

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

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Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 3

For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the Law commands. The Law simply shows us how sinful we are.~ Romans 3:20 — NLT ~

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In my last post, Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 2we learned that the Jews turned the Ten Commandments, (also known as the Law or the Law of Moses), into six hundred thirteen laws, known as the Tradition of the EldersTheir purpose in creating all of these laws, as convoluted as it seems, was to protect the Ten Commandments. They purposed that following the Tradition of the Elders would ensure the people’s obedience to the Law of Moses. If you haven’t been following this series and would like to start at the beginning, please click, Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 1.

Why, then, was the law given? It was given alongside the promise to show people their sins. But the law was designed to last only until the coming of the child who was promised. God gave his law through angels to Moses, who was the mediator between God and the people. ~ Galatians 3:19 — NLT ~

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In addition to learning about the Tradition of the Elders, we discovered the purpose for the Law, which is stated in today’s scripture, Romans 3:20and also in the Scripture above… Today we are going to study the Law of Moses or the Ten Commandments as it is best known, while keeping in mind the Law’s purpose, which is to show people their sins. As we make our way through each of these commandments one by one, I encourage you to search your heart to see where you have sinned and fall short of God’s glory, while I search my own.

Exodus 20:2-17 — NKJV
~ 1 ~

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“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me.”

This is God’s first command, and sadly, I’ve broken this command too many times to count. You see, before I knew Christ, as my Lord and Savior, everything came before God, and the truth is that even as a born-again Christian, there have been too many times when I failed to put God first. In fact, the truth is that even now, after serving the Lord for many years, there are still times that I have to repent because I’ve put my own desires ahead of Him and His desires for me. Do you ever struggle with this command?

~ 2 ~

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“You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My Commandments”

When I was younger, I struggled with the meaning of this Command. Was the Lord saying that it is a sin to draw, or carve or paint? After all, it seemed that His instructions were very clear and specific. Do not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth…” Indeed, this is how this scripture has been interpreted by many people throughout the ages, and it sure seems to be the correct assumption, when you take this quote out of its context.

However, I always had a hard time believing that God hates art. After all, He is the giver of our gifts and talents. Now, as I grew in my love and knowledge of the Lord, I came to see that I was incorrect in the way that I had interpreted this verse. You see, this Command is not about the artwork as much as it is about the condition of the artist’s heart and/or the one who owns the art work. Let’s look at this Command again, in the whole context:

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“You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My Commandments”

Let’s also take a look at the Hebrew word translated as “carved image” in the New King James Version, and graven image,” in the King James Version of the Bible: 

Pecel = idol or image. 

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Do you see the whole picture? God doesn’t hate artwork. He doesn’t hate knick-knacks, pictures, paintings, sculptures or statues. His concern and His Command was about our heart, and our relationship with Him. Do you remember what the children of Israel were doing while Moses was on Mt. Sinai getting the Ten Commandments from God? They were melting their gold and and pressuring Aaron to create a golden calf to worship instead of the Living God!

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hissheep.org

Do you imagine He didn’t know what was going on when He wrote that Command? Think about this, the same God who told the people not to create any images in heaven or earth, also Commanded the artists to create golden cherubim (which are in heaven) to go on top of the mercy seat on the Ark of the Covenant. He commanded the artists to create the menorah to resemble an almond tree with buds, branches and flowers (all of which are on the earth), and He commanded those who sewed the curtains and the veil of the tabernacle to weave angels into them.

Beloved readers, let’s examine our hearts. Do you, or have you ever worshiped any idols? Before you answer, let me share a few examples of idol worship with you… 

    • Do you, or have you ever worshiped or prayed to any pictures, paintings or photographs?
      • i.e. — I’ve seen people who in the midst of a disaster, will risk their lives to save photographs of their loved ones. I may offend you by saying so, but this is an example of idol worship.
    • Do you, or have you ever prayed to or worshiped a carved or graven image?
      • i.e. — This would include praying to a crucifix, using rosary beads, a picture of anything or any one, including a picture of Jesus. Again, this may be offensive, but if you worship or pray to any man made image, this is idolatry, even if you say that you are worshiping Jesus.
    • Do you, or have you ever prayed or worshiped a loved one or created a shrine for your loved one?
      • i.e. — This too, may be offensive to many, but I must speak the truth. When a loved one dies, if we respond to his/her death by creating a shrine for them, and go to this place to pray to or talk to your deceased loved one, this too, is idolatry.
    • Perhaps you’ve done none of the above, but do you, or have you ever chosen to watch a program on t.v., or attend a sporting event, when you felt the Lord calling you to spend time with Him? If so, beloved reader, this too, is idolatry.

I don’t know about you, but in light of all this, I have to confess that I have been guilty of idolatry. You see, beloved reader, we’ve only looked at the first two commandments in the Law, and the Law has already shown me that I am a sinful woman in need of my Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. For He alone can set me free from the bondage of sin and death. 

My friends, I don’t know if you have been born again or not, but, if you have broken God’s law, then you are in need of a Savior. We’ve only looked at two of the Ten Commandments, and I don’t know about you, but I am guilty of breaking both of those Laws, and here’s what the bible says about it…

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 ~

If you want to be set free from a life of sin and death, I urge you to call upon the name of the Lord, for whosoever calls upon His name will be saved. The bible tells us what we need to do…

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 ~

If you, like me are a Christian, who has sinned against God, repent and confess your sins to God, as He commands in His word…

But if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. ~ 1 John 1:9 — NLT ~

Thank you for joining me for Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 3and I pray you will join me for Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 4as we continue this study of the Law with the other Commandments. 

This is my prayer for each one of us as we continue to study the Law… Father, I pray that as we study what Your word says about Your Laws, that You would open the eyes of our hearts, so that we would not only gain head knowledge. Let Your word be planted deep within our hearts, and help us to apply all that we learn from You and about You, so that we would walk in Your Spirit, and not in our flesh. I pray Lord, that you would take our hearts of stone and give us hearts of flesh. I also ask You to give each one of us a teachable spirit, so that we would not harden our hearts against You and the truth of Your word, because Jesus said that we will know the Truth, and the Truth will set us free… And whom the Son sets free, is free indeed. Father, I praise You and I thank You for all that You have done, for all that You are doing, and for all that You will do for each one of us as we continue in this study of Your Law and what it means to us. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

LIVE BY THE LAW/DIE BY THE LAW ~ PART 2

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For the Law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ. ~ John 1:17 — NLT ~
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In Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 1, we came to the conclusion that it is by God’s grace that we are saved through faith and not by our obedience to the Law. Otherwise, all would be condemned to eternal damnation, because no one aside from Jesus has ever been 100% faithful in obeying the Law, and the penalty for sin is death.
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As the Scriptures say, “No one is righteous — not even one.” ~ Romans 3:10 — NLT ~
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For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. ~ Romans 3:23 — NLT ~
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Yet, because of God’s great love for us, despite our sinful nature, Jesus, who was completely faithful in obedience to God’s Law, paid the penalty for the sins of all mankind, in order to redeem us from the Law of sin and death.
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But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. ~ Romans 5:8 — NLT ~
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For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. ~ Romans 8:2 — NKJV ~
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In this, the second installment of Live By the Law/Die By the LawI want to further study the Law and its purpose. Let’s begin by defining the Law. Throughout the Bible, in both the Old and the New Testaments, you will see references to the Law of Moses. This refers to the Ten Commandments that God gave Moses on the stone tablets, while he was on Mt. Sinai.

These commandments were given to the children of Israel, (Israelites or Jews) and they were to live by these laws. Now, over time, the Jewish leaders and teachers of the Law took the Ten Commandments given to them by God, and created 613 laws, known as the Tradition of the Elderswhich were supposed to help the people obey God’s Ten Commandments. In theory, if the people kept these rules, they would be obeying the Law.

Isn’t it just like mankind to take something holy and pollute it with our own wisdom? Perhaps their intentions were good in developing these additional laws for men to follow, in order to protect the Law of God, given to them by Moses, but the outcome was not good. You see, the Pharisees who created these additional laws were very strict about following them, down to the smallest detail. In fact, they were so careful to follow all of the rules, that they lost sight of the Law of God, which dealt with the hearts of mankind…
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37 As Jesus was speaking, one of the Pharisees invited Him home for a meal. So He went in and took His place at the table. 38 His host was amazed to see that He sat down to eat without first performing the hand-washing ceremony required by Jewish custom. 39 Then the Lord said to him, You Pharisees are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and wickedness! 40 Fools! Didn’t God make the inside as well as the outside? 41 So clean the inside by giving gifts to the poor, and you will be clean all over.

42 “What sorrow awaits you Pharisees! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore justice and the love of God. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things.

43 “What sorrow awaits you Pharisees! For you love to sit in the seats of honor in the synagogues and receive respectful greetings as you walk in the marketplaces. 44 Yes, what sorrow awaits you! For you are like hidden graves in a field. People walk over them without knowing the corruption they are stepping on.”

45 “Teacher,” said an expert in religious law, “You have insulted us, too, in what You just said.”

46 “Yes,” said Jesus, “what sorrow also awaits you experts in religious law! For you crush people with unbearable religious demands, and you never lift a finger to ease the burden. 47 What sorrow awaits you! For you build monuments for the prophets your own ancestors killed long ago. 48 But in fact, you stand as witnesses who agree with what your ancestors did. They killed the prophets, and you join in their crime by building the monuments! 49 This is what God in His wisdom said about you: ‘I will send prophets and apostles to them, but they will kill some and persecute the others.’

50 “As a result, this generation will be held responsible for the murder of all God’s prophets from the creation of the world—51 from the murder of Abel to the murder of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, it will certainly be charged against this generation.

52 “What sorrow awaits you experts in religious law! For you remove the key to knowledge from the people. You don’t enter the Kingdom yourselves, and you prevent others from entering.” ~ Luke 11:37-52 — NLT ~
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Sadly, all of those religious laws created by the Pharisees only  served to alienate the people from God. Instead of making it easier for the people to obey God’s original Ten Commandments, it only served to make obedience to God’s commands more difficult. The Law of Moses was complicated by the Pharisees’ additional six hundred thirteen laws.

When Jesus came along, He angered the Pharisees by speaking out against some of their foolish laws. Then, He took the Law of God, and simplified that which had been complicated by the Pharisees, dividing the Law into two parts. He revealed that the Law of God is summarized and divided into two parts. The first four commandments concern our relationship with God, while the second half of the commandments concern our relationship with mankind. The scriptures below show us how Jesus summed up the Law of Moses.
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30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’This is the first commandment. 31 And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” ~ Mark 12:30-31 — NKJV ~
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You see, beloved reader, God’s Law was never about following ten rules or six hundred thirteen rules. God’s Law concerned the hearts of all mankind, and by obeying the first half of the Commandments, man could demonstrate his love for God. Furthermore, by obeying the second half of the Law, man would demonstrate his love for humanity, but sadly, because of our sinful nature, we are unable to follow the Law in its entirety, which is why Christ came to live, die and arise from the grave. He was and is our only hope for salvation and deliverance from the sin that binds each one of us.

For the Law was not given to the Jews to save them, for Christ is the One who saves. So, beloved reader, if the Law was not given to save mankind, why was it given?
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Why, then, was the Law given? It was given alongside the promise to show people their sins. But the Law was designed to last only until the coming of the Child who was promised. God gave His law through angels to Moses, who was the mediator between God and the people. ~ Galatians 3:19 — NLT ~
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We know now that the Law was given to show people their sins. In Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 3we’ll examine the Ten Commandments and see exactly how the Law still serves to show people their sins.

I pray that as we continue in this study, we’ll learn what it means to live in the love and liberty our Savior calls us to. May the Lord bless each of you, beloved readers, as you continue to grow in His grace.

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 1

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Are Christians bound by the Law? What does it mean to be bound by the Law? Are those Christians who are Gentiles required to live by the Laws given to the Jews? What is the purpose of living by the Law? Are we required to live by the Law in order to be saved? When we fail to live by the Law, do we lose our salvation? Must we follow the Law in order to maintain our salvation?

Has anyone else ever grappled with these questions? When it comes to questions of such great import, I don’t like to rely on man’s answers, because man’s wisdom is finite, whereas God’s wisdom is infinite. Human words and beliefs are fallible, whereas God’s Word is infallible. We humans are corrupt, self-righteous, prideful, vindictive and sinful, whereas God is Good, Just, Merciful, and full of Grace and Love. The words of mankind have no power to change lives, and will soon fade away, whereas the Word of God is Living and Active, Sharper than any two-edged sword. His Word has the Power to change lives. His Word has the Power to save, heal and deliver.

Therefore, for those all important questions that I asked above, let’s look to God’s Word for the answers. Firstly, let’s start from the beginning, and work our way onward… Are we required to live by the Law in order to be saved?

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God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. ~ Ephesians 2:8-9 — NLT ~
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For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,9 not of works, lest anyone should boast~ Ephesians 2:8-9 — NKJV ~
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Beloved readers, the first all-important fact that you must know and understand is that God saves us by His Grace. Our salvation has NOTHING to do with how good we are, nor does it have anything to do with how many Commandments we have kept. Indeed, the salvation of mankind rests solely on God’s Grace and His great Love for us.

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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 life17 God sent His Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through Him. ~ John 3:16 — NLT ~
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16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. ~ John 3:16 — NKJV ~
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But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners~ Romans 5:8 — NLT ~
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8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us~ Romans 5:8 — NKJV ~
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Image Credit:
Anna Popescu

Beloved reader, take careful note of when God loved us and saved us. He loved us while we were still in the midst of our sins. Do you see? Christ died to save us while we were still sinners, breaking the Law. The fact is that we wouldn’t have needed a Savior if we were able to follow the Law ourselves. Indeed, my friends, even the Jews, (the ones to whom the Law was given), are unable to keep the Law. Therefore, why would I, a Gentile, think that I can either earn or keep my salvation by obeying the Law?

9 Well then, should we conclude that we Jews are better than others? No, not at all, for we have already shown that all people, whether Jews or Gentiles, are under the power of sin.

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.”
13 “Their talk is foul, like the stench from an open grave.
Their tongues are filled with lies.
Snake venom drips from their lips.”
14 “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”
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5 “They rush to commit murder.
1
6 Destruction and misery always follow them.
17 They don’t know where to find peace.”
18 “They have no fear of God at all.”

19 Obviously, the law applies to those to whom it was given, for its purpose is to keep people from having excuses, and to show that the entire world is guilty before God. 20 For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are. ~ Romans 3:9-20 — NLT ~
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9 What then? Are we better than they? Not at all. For we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin.

10 As it is written:

“There is none righteous, no, not one;
11 There is none who understands;
There is none who seeks after God.
12 They have all turned aside;
They have together become unprofitable;
There is none who does good, no, not one.”
13 “Their throat is an open tomb;
With their tongues they have practiced deceit”; 
“The poison of asps is under their lips”; 
14 “Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.”
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16 Destruction and misery are in their ways;
17 And the way of peace they have not known.”
18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. 20 Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. ~ Romans 3:9-20 — NKJV ~ 
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Do you see that according to God’s Word, NO ONE can be made right with God by doing what the Law commands, because the Law simply shows us how sinful we are. Not only that, but the Law applies to those to whom it was given — the Jews, not the Gentiles. Furthermore, if the Jews, to whom the Law was given, were unable to follow the Law to the letter, why would anyone in the Church insist that the followers of Christ must live under the Law? 

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Biblical Proof

Beloved readers, please join me as we embark on a study of God’s word, so that we will know His Law and how it applies to us. The Word of God will have very little impact on anyone, unless we apply it to our lives. It is my hope that through this study, we will all come to a better understanding of God’s Word, His Law and His expectations for us. I pray that your roots will grow deep into His love and that you will come to understand, as all of God’s children should, how long and how wide, how high and how deep His love for you really is, though it is too great for any of us to fully grasp. I pray that as each of us delve into the Word of God, He will speak to us. I have no desire to tell anyone what to believe… instead, it is my heart’s desire that as we embark on this study, each one of you will listen, as His Word speaks for itself. I pray for all of this in the matchless name of Jesus. Amen.

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

The Strongest Judge… An Answer to the Riddle

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In those days, a man continued to live at home, with his parents, until he married, unless the Lord called him to go elsewhere, and so it was with Samson. As they raised this son the Lord had blessed them with, Samson’s mother and father were very careful to follow YHWH’s instructions, and train him in the way that he should go. And as Samson reached manhood, while still living with his parents, the Spirit of the Lord began to stir in him. 

Samson was a virile young man, full of vim and vigor, and though his parents loved him dearly, and considered themselves very blessed to have him, the fact is that raising him according to the instructions laid out by the Lord, had proven to be quite challenging. For Samson was very headstrong, and often very belligerent as well, when he didn’t get his own way. And now, though he was no longer a child, he still worried his parents, who knew that God had created Samson for greatness. For although he was older now, and though the Spirit of the Lord had begun to stir in him, Samson was still very rebellious.

The couple had just finished praying for their beloved son, when the door opened with a crash, and Samson entered, kissing first his father, and then his mother on the cheek, before grabbing a hand full of figs from the table. “You seem very cheerful,” his mother said with a smile, as Samson joined his parents at the table. “Where did you go today?”

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Grinning broadly, Samson responded, “I was in Timnah today, Imah, and I saw the most beautiful girl there.” Turning to his father, Samson continued, “She’s a Philistine, and I want to marry her, Abba. Go and make the arrangements for me to marry her, ok?”

“Son, surely you jest!” His mother exclaimed, while Manoah pounded his fist on the table and shouted.

“A Philistine?!? Samson, have you lost your mind? Isn’t there one woman in our tribe, or even among all of Israel, that you could marry?”

“No, Abba,” he replied. “I want her. Get her for me.”

“Son, must you go to the pagan Philistines for a bride?” both his father and mother pleaded. Neither of them realized that the Lord was at work, even in this.

Finally, seeing that they couldn’t change his mind about marrying the Philistine girl, Samson’s parents went with him to Timnah, where the girl lived. As his parents slowly trudged along, Samson walked much more briskly, exuberantly pulling ahead of his parents in his eagerness to get there as quickly as possible. 

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And so it was that as he was walking along, Samson heard the loud roar of a lion. His heart pounded loudly, as the lion lunged at him. Then, quickly, as the Spirit of the Lord fell upon him, without even thinking, Samson grabbed the open mouth of the lion before it closed on him, and ripped the beast in half. After killing the beast, he tossed the carcass into the vineyard by the roadside, and returned to hurry his parents along. Not wanting to trouble them, he kept the lion’s attack on him a secret.

When he saw the young Philistine woman again, Samson found her more desirable than ever, and so his father proceeded to arrange the marriage between his son and the Philistine. Finally, after nearly three months of negotiations, the marriage between the two was arranged. Samson was ecstatic, and when he was returning to Timnah for his wedding, he left the path and walked into the vineyard, where he had thrown the lion’s body. As he gazed at the dead animal’s body, he saw that a swarm of bees had made some honey within its cavity.

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Image Credit:
goodsalt.com

Grinning broadly, Samson scooped a handful of the honey, bringing its golden sweetness to his lips, tasting its syrupy goodness. After enjoying his fill of nature’s sweet nectarine, he carried some to his parents. “Oh Samson!” his mother exclaimed, “How wonderful! Where did you find it?”

Laughing joyfully, Samson ignored her question, instead urging his parents to hurry to Timnah, for his wedding. The Philistine girl was a beauty, and he was eager to make her his bride. Of course the truth is that he was looking forward to the party tonight, as well.

Once they got to town, while his father was making the final wedding arrangements, Samson threw a party for thirty young men, who were companions especially chosen for him by his bride’s parents. There was much fun and revelry at the party, as the young men all laughed and joked together. In the midst of all their merrymaking, Samson came up with a new game for his companions to play.

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Image Credit:
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“Friends, who wants to join me in a new game?” The young men looked at him expectantly, as he continued, “I have a riddle for you, and if any of you solve the riddle during these seven days of my marriage celebration, I’ll give you thirty fine linen robes and thirty  sets of festive clothing.” As the young men nodded eagerly, leaning closer to hear what he had to say, Samson lifted his right hand up to them, “But,” he said, “if no one can solve the riddle, then you must give me thirty fine linen robes and thirty sets of festive clothing. Agreed?”

“Agreed,” the young men shouted eagerly. “Now tell us the riddle!”

“Very well then,” Samson replied. “Out of the eater came something to eat, and out of the strong came something sweet.” After sharing his riddle with them, he burst out laughing. There was no way any of them would ever guess the answer to his riddle — not even if they had a million years to figure it out, for no one knew about the lion he had killed or the honey he had scooped up and eaten from it. He hadn’t even told his parents about it.

The men thought and thought about Samson’s riddle, only to become more and more frustrated with each wrong answer. As one day passed into another, and they were no closer to knowing the answer to the riddle, the young men began to get angry, and Samson’s laughter at their expense didn’t help their mood. For three days, they tried to guess the answer to Samson’s riddle with no luck, and finally, on the fourth day, they had enough.

While some of the young men distracted Samson, several others approached his wife, telling her, “You’d better coax your husband into telling you the answer to that stupid riddle for us. Otherwise, we’ll burn your father’s house down, with you in it! Did you all invite us to this party just to rob us and make us poor?”

With her life and the lives of her family at stake, Samson’s bride quickly approached him and tried to get him to tell her the answer to his riddle, but Samson laughingly brushed her aside, refusing to answer her, even when she burst into tears. “You don’t even love me, do you?” she cried. “You hate me, don’t you? How could you give my people a riddle and not even tell me the answer?” she desperately wept.

“Oh come on, honey,” Samson consoled her, as she lay in his arms later on that night, crying inconsolably. “I haven’t even told my parents the answer to my riddle, so why should I tell you?” At this answer, she just cried even harder. 

During what should have been one of the most joyful occasions of their life, both Samson and the girl were miserable. She was despairing for fear that the men would murder her and her family, while Samson was tormented by her constant nagging and crying. Finally, on the seventh day of the celebration, unable to bear her weeping and whining any longer, Samson told her the answer to the riddle.

His young wife was both relieved and elated, and as soon as she was able to get away from Samson, she ran to explain the riddle’s answer to the young men. She knew that she was risking Samson’s wrath by doing so, but that seemed a minor thing in comparison to losing her life and the lives of her family members. The young men roared with raucous laughter when she told them. For now, the joke was on Samson, and not them.

They waited until just before sunset to approach Samson, bowing mockingly before him. Samson, certain that they couldn’t possibly know the answer to his riddle, looked down upon them, condescendingly saying, “So you think you can answer my riddle, do you?”

Then, altogether, as though they had rehearsed it, the thirty young men answered in unison, “What is sweeter than honey? What is stronger than a lion?”

At their response, Samson’s face turned beet red, as he realized that his wife had betrayed him after being married for less than a week. He was furious as he looked from one mocking face to another, and he bellowed, If you hadn’t plowed with my heifer, you wouldn’t have solved my riddle!”

Then the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon the enraged bridegroom, and Samson went down to the town of Ashkelon and killed thirty men. Then, taking their clothing and their belongings, he then threw their clothing at the feet of the thirty young men. This was their payment for answering his riddle.

Afterward, still furious at his wife’s betrayal, Samson returned to his parents’ house. 

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

A Reason to Rejoice!

Image Credit: William Hole
Image Credit:
William Hole

9 As Jesus was walking along, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at his tax collector’s booth. “Follow Me and be My disciple,” Jesus said to him. So Matthew got up and followed Him.

 

10 Later, Matthew invited Jesus and His disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. 11 But when the Pharisees saw this, they asked His disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with such scum?”

 

12 When Jesus heard this, He said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.” 13 Then He added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”

~ Matthew 9:9-13 — NLT ~

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ocsoldier.blogspot.com

Imagine what Matthew must have felt like when Jesus called him. He was a Jew, and yet he was hated by his fellow Jews because he worked for Herod Antipas, collecting taxes from the people. Not only that, tax collectors had a reputation of being extremely corrupt, extorting far more money from citizens than what the actual taxes were. Therefore, knowing how his people felt about him, with good reason, imagine how Matthew must have felt when Jesus came to his tax booth, and looking him straight in the eye, invited him to join His disciples.

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Image Credit:
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I can’t help but wonder how Matthew felt. Did he hurry and leave his tax booth immediately to follow Jesus, joyfully bidding his fellow tax collectors and other sinners that he knew, a fond farewell, inviting them to join him for dinner later that evening, where Jesus would be the distinguished guest of honor?  I can only wonder at his joy and excitement.

As he followed Jesus that first day, what words of wisdom did he hear? Did he witness any miracles or deliverances that day? As he walked along with the One who was the Way, the Truth and the Life, did he feel humbled and grateful?

Later that evening, after spending his first day with Jesus, Matthew must have been overflowing with joy as his guests began to arrive and he proudly introduced them to Jesus. How his joy must have melted into shame as he heard the Pharisees questioning the disciples…

But when the Pharisees saw this, they asked His disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with such scum?”

~ Matthew 9:11 — NLT ~

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Image Credit:
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Have you ever felt like dirt? Have you ever been on the mountaintop, only to have someone trash you, revealing all of your shortcomings and weaknesses to those you most wanted to love you? Do you know what its like to feel exposed and vulnerable? I suspect Matthew may have felt like that for awhile, until Jesus responded to the Pharisees…

12 When Jesus heard this, He said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.” 13 Then He added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”

~ Matthew 9:12-13 — NLT ~

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Image Credit:
everydaywithgrace.com

Can you even begin to imagine the joy and the relief Matthew must have felt as heard Jesus’ words? The Pharisees hadn’t revealed anything that Jesus didn’t already know! He already knew of Matthew’s sins, as well as those of his friends, but He chose to give them mercy and grace.

Jesus was the great physician, who had come to heal the sin-sick tax collectors and disreputable sinners, He, who had never sinned, never lied, and never cheated, wasn’t ashamed to be associated with Matthew and his sinful friends. Instead of condemning the sinners, Jesus had come to call them, just as He had called Matthew and all of the other disciples.

What’s more, not only did Jesus defend Matthew and the other sinners, He also did the unthinkable. How shocked Matthew, the other disciples, and the sinners must have been… How shocked the Pharisees must have been, when Jesus rebuked them as He ordered them to leave…

… “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.

~ Matthew 9:13 — NLT ~

Hallelujah! This scripture passage gives me such hope, as it should to everyone who reads this post and realizes that they too are sinners who have fallen short of the glory of God. Yes, I’ve sinned. I’ve made such a mess of so many things in my life, and I am fully aware of my weaknesses.

So, my beloved readers, how do you feel about this scripture passage? Does it bless your heart? When you read it, do you feel peace? Love? Joy? Hope? Leave me a comment and let me know how this scripture passage makes you feel. May the Lord bless you, my friends!

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers

Be Encouraged, My Child! Your Sins Are Forgiven

1 Jesus climbed into a boat and went back across the lake to His own town. 2 Some people brought to Him a paralyzed man on a mat. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “Be encouraged, My child! Your sins are forgiven.”

3 But some of the teachers of religious law said to themselves, “That’s blasphemy! Does He think He’s God?”

4 Jesus knew what they were thinking, so He asked them, “Why do you have such evil thoughts in your hearts? 5 Is it easier to say ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Stand up and walk’? 6 So I will prove to you that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive sins.” Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!”

7 And the man jumped up and went home! 8 Fear swept through the crowd as they saw this happen. And they praised God for sending a Man with such great authority.

~ Matthew 9:1-8 — NLT ~

When I read this, passage of scripture, my mind immediately goes to the many people who have been paralyzed throughout the centuries. I think of people who I’ve known personally, and those that I don’t know personally, but I know of them.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, the 32nd President of the United States of America, was paralyzed from the waist down, and later diagnosed with infantile paralysis (polio) in 1921, at the age of 39. Unbeknownst to the very people who elected him, Roosevelt was able to keep his paralysis a secret, for the most part, through the aid of the press.

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How do you think people would react if their loved ones brought them to see Jesus, and He simply responded, “Be encouraged, My child! Your sins are forgiven.”?  How would Franklin D. Roosevelt have responded, I wonder? Would he praise the Lord and thank Jesus? Or would he be offended that Jesus brought his sins up? How would the wealthy spoiled politician have responded? Would he have angrily tried to silence Jesus, fearing He would Roosevelt’s adulterous affairs to the world? Or would he have repented, crying out to the Lord and asking for forgiveness for the sins he had committed against God and man?

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Image Credit:
Photorazzi

Many people have heard of Christopher Reeve, an actor best known for playing Superman in the 1980’s. Reeve was paralyzed after being thrown from a horse in 1995, at the age of 42. For the rest of his life, until he died at age 52, Reeve was a quadriplegic, unable to breathe on his own without breathing equipment.

How do you think Christopher Reeve and his family, friends and fans would have responded to Jesus telling him, “Be encouraged, My child! Your sins are forgiven.”? Do you think Reeve and those who loved him would have rejoiced at Jesus’ words of love and mercy? Or would he, his family, friends and fans be offended at the implication that he was a sinful man? Would he and those who loved him have recognized that He was in the presence of the Son of God, who had authority to forgive sins? Or would they simply think Jesus was a man like any other man, who had no authority… a man who had stepped out of line by implying that Christopher Reeves was a sinner? How would you feel if you witnessed this?

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Image Credit:
Messiah College News

And then there’s Joni Eareckson Tada… I don’t know how many of you are familiar with Joni Eareckson Tada, so I’ll just give you a brief overview of her life. In 1967, at the tender age of 17, Joni Eareckson Tada was involved in a terrible diving accident, fracturing her spine between the fourth and fifth cervical levels, which left her a quadriplegic, paralyzed from the shoulders down. During the months that followed her accident, Joni suffered from deep depression, wanting to commit suicide, yet physically unable to carry out her wishes, until finally, one night, a few months after her accident, she cried out to the Lord to help her endure and to let some good come from her pain.

Image Credit: Disability Campaign
Image Credit:
Disability Campaign

The Lord heard her cry, filling her life with purpose. Though she was no longer able to use her hands and arms, nor her feet and her legs, He gave her the ability to draw and to paint, holding the necessary instruments in her mouth. The quality of the artwork she produced far exceeded the abilities of most people who have use of all of their limbs. And every picture drawn, as well as every painting was done for the glory of the Lord… 

Image Credit: Heaven - Your Real Home Joni Eareckson Tada
Image Credit:
Heaven – Your Real Home
Joni Eareckson Tada

As she drew closer to the Lord, Joni acknowledged that as incomprehensible as it may seem to most people, the Lord had allowed the horrible accident in answer to a prayer that she had prayed few months prior. That night, after returning home from an evening of teenage passion and sin, Joni had cried out to God for forgiveness and for the strength to stop sinning against Him. She admitted that the Lord would have to give her the strength to repent and turn away from the sins she was involved in, because she was powerless to stop on her own. She admits that she has come to believe that the Lord allowed all that has happened in answer to that desperate cry for help, and to discipline her according to Hebrews 12…

5 And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as His children? He said, “My child, don’t make light of the Lord’s discipline, and don’t give up when He corrects you. 6 For the Lord disciplines those He loves, and He punishes each one He accepts as His child.” 

7 As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as His own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father? 8 If God doesn’t discipline you as He does all of His children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really His children at all. 9 Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us, shouldn’t we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits, and live forever?

10 For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in His holiness. 11 No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.

~ Hebrews 12:5-11 — NLT ~

Image Credit: Tulips Joni Eareckson Tada
Image Credit:
Tulips
Joni Eareckson Tada

This seems so difficult for people to swallow. Would a God of love really ordain one of His children to become a quadriplegic in answer to prayer? Is God really more concerned about our souls than in the suffering of our bodies? Is it easier for God to forgive sins? Or is it easier for Him to heal our bodies, enabling the quadriplegics and the paraplegics to rise up and walk again?

Look at yourself and your own situations. How is your physical health? How is your emotional health? Have you ever wondered, “Why me, Lord?” Have you ever considered the possibility that not only has God allowed your present suffering, but perhaps, He also ordained it? Is this offensive to you? What if I told you that the Lord’s love for us runs so deep, and flies so high; its breadth is so wide and it spans so long that He will spare nothing to win us for eternity? Remember, my beloved readers, God knows our hearts better than we do…

9 “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? 10 But I, the Lord, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.

~ Jeremiah 17:9-10 — NLT ~

Christ knows what is in the heart of man, and therefore, He knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows exactly what you and I must endure in order for us to submit our lives to Him, and while it is not His will to harm us, He will do whatever it takes in order to draw us to Him. Have you been suffering? I have suffered greatly, both throughout my younger years, and even recently. I don’t understand why the Lord chose to ordain my suffering, but I do know that He loves me, and He promises that He will work all things together for my good, because I love Him and He has called me according to His glory.

2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

~ James 1:2-4 — NLT ~

What about you, beloved? Do you love the Lord? Has He called you according to His glory? Then count it all joy, for the Lord is perfecting you!

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers

Caddo’s Seven Word Sundays!

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Image Credit:
http://gracepieces.com/

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 ~

Image Credit: http://jennbowers.deviantart.com/art/ It-is-Finished-159107918

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

Who are you?

Who are you? This is the catch,  you can’t say:

  1. your name
  2. your occupation (including students), or anything else that you spend your time doing
  3. your relationship to others (e.g. I am the daughter of so and so, or I am the friend of so and so)
  4. anything that you own or possess

Your answer has to define who you are from the inside, not with reference to anything external, including other people (or pets!), or how you pass time. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Photo Credit: http://www.fuentesevangelism.com/holy-spirit-by-power5.jpg

I am a Spirit-filled woman of God, who has been saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, not because of my own goodness (because I when I met Him, I was anything but good), but because of His goodness and mercy. I was created, as all people are, for the glory of God, and it is when I am glorifying Him, that I am most fully who I am… the Spirit-filled woman of God… me.

I am a woman of great joy, as is anyone who has been set free from a prison of fear and pain. I walk in that joy at all times, even in the midst of physical pain, because even in the midst of all that pain, I know that it will pass… that there are others who have suffered far more than me… that one day, I will feel no more pain… that in my weakness, His strength is made perfect… This is who I was created to be, and joy is an integral part of who I am, again, not from my own merit, but because this is who God created me to be.

Photo Credit: http://media-cache0.pinterest.com/upload/25473554112709347_d0j2UHoa_b.jpg

I am forgiven and forgiving. Because I have been forgiven much, I am able to forgive much… There are times when I am extremely angry… when someone hurts me or someone I love… when I see the victims of tragedies… when I see injustice… when I witness sin in me or in someone else… when what is right is called wrong, and what is wrong is called right… But I am able to forgive the men, women and sometimes even children, who commit these sins and atrocities, because I too have sinned and fall far short of God’s glory, and if He forgave my sins, then how can I not forgive the sins of others? 

I am loved and loving. Because God loves me, I am a woman of love. I love those who love me back, and I also love those who hate me. I love those who treat me kindly, and I also love those who have hurt me, abused me, rejected me, cursed me and treated me unfairly. I don’t like what they have done to me, but I love the people, not because I’m a great person. Believe me, if you knew me, you would see my flaws, and how I have struggled to love those who have “done me wrong.” I am a woman of love because I am loved by God. Do you know that even when I was in the midst of my deepest, darkest sin, He loved me? Oh, and get this… He didn’t just tolerate me or say He loves me. No, He loves me passionately, knowing what I’ve done, and what’s been done to me. He loves me with a love that is indescribable, and He wooed me with His love, and I couldn’t help myself. He sent His only Son to pay my death penalty for the sins I had committed. I fell head over heals in love with Him, and the funny thing is, the deeper my love for Him grows, the deeper my love for others grows.

Photo Credit:
http://thrasheradoption.blogspot.com/2012/02/mommy-who-jesus-loves.html

In summation, who am I? I am a Spirit-filled, joyful, forgiving and loving woman, because Christ changed me from a spiritless, melancholy, unforgiving and bitter woman when He gave me new life.

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers

Cut It Off!

“You have heard that the law of Moses says, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust in his eye has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

So if your eye — even if it is your good eye — causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your hand — even if it is your stronger hand — causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.” (Matthew 5:27-30 NLT)

A life of following Jesus calls for us to be radical in our faith. Let’s dive in and deal with what He had to say about adultery…

Jesus dealt with the sin of adultery on several occasions, but in this instance, He spells it out for us. Most define adultery as voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and someone other than his or her lawful spouse. Jesus makes it clear that adultery is not only the act of having sex with someone other than his/her lawful spouse – it involves the heart and the mind. 

The thought that immediately leaps to my mind is King David and Bathsheba. David’s sin began before he sent for her. His sin began when he didn’t go to war like he was supposed to do… Then it happened in the spring, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him and all Israel, and they destroyed the sons of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. But David stayed at Jerusalem. (2 Samuel 11:1 NLT)

  • Lesson 1 – when we’re not doing what we should be doing, it is sin and it can lead to more sin…
  • Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it. (James 4:17 NLT)

http://www.ingodsimage.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/CityOfDavidFerrellJenkins.jpg

 Late one afternoon David got out of bed after taking a nap and went for a stroll on the roof of the palace. As he looked out over the city, he noticed a woman of unusual beauty taking a bath. (2 Samuel 11:2 NLT) 

Now, I’ve heard a lot of people give Bathsheba a bad rap for this… some have said she was bathing on her roof, but that is not what the scripture says! The Scripture says that David was walking around on his roof, and from the roof, he saw a woman bathing. If you look at the picture above, the rail at the top shows where David’s palace most likely was, so you can see, from this viewpoint, he would have easily been able to look down and see Bathsheba bathing, and she wouldn’t have had to be on a rooftop to be seen…

Regardless, David, who wasn’t where he was supposed to be, doing what he was supposed to be doing, was restless and got up out of his bed that evening and walked out onto his roof, perhaps surveying his kingdom, when he saw Bathsheba bathing. Now, if David’s heart had been in the right place at that time, when he saw the woman bathing, he would have looked away, perhaps gone back into his room or at least to the other side of the roof! But he didn’t. Instead, he looked a little closer and saw that she was beautiful.

  • Lesson 2 – When you accidentally see, hear, feel, smell or taste anything that tempts you to sin, don’t dwell on it or continue to look, listen, touch, smell or taste it – run from it!!!
  • Run from anything that stimulates youthful lust. Follow anything that makes you want to do right. Pursue faith and love and peace, and enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts. (2 Timothy 2:22 NLT)

He sent someone to find out who she was, and he was told, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” (2 Samuel 11:3 NLT)

Rather than running from the temptation before his eyes, David quickly ran to temptation.

Now, I have to be honest with you… David is one of my favorite biblical characters, because he has so much passion for the Lord! He didn’t care what anyone thought about him while he worshiped the Lord – he was more than willing to be undignified, and I love that about him.

The problem is, and I say this to caution myself and all brothers and sisters called to the ministry of the Lord, the people loved David and they flattered him. Now maybe that doesn’t sound like such a bad thing, but I have to be honest, when I’ve delivered a message from the Lord and seen His power at work, and people flatter me, I really struggle with it.

On the one hand, there is a part of me that longs for recognition and approval. I grew up in a home where it seemed that love and affection had to be earned, and there is still some of that little girl inside of me who craves affirmation. So when people flatter me, I get mixed feelings.

Yes, it feels good when someone admires something you’ve accomplished, but what if my ego gets puffed up? I can’t judge King David or anyone else who struggles against pride, because I constantly wage my own war with pride.

O Lord, I don’t want to shame You. I want to always glorify Your name and not my own. Please Father, keep me from stumbling and causing others to stumble. Hear my cries O Lord, keep me from shame.

  • Lesson 3 – don’t let the adoration and/or approval of others cloud your vision and make you prideful.
  • You younger men, accept the authority of the elders. And all of you, serve each other in humility, for “God sets Himself against the proud, but He shows favor to the humble.” So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and in His good time He will honor you. (1 Peter 5:5-6 NLT)

 Then David sent for her; and when she came to the palace, he slept with her. (She had just completed the purification rites after having her menstrual period.) Then she returned home. 

http://www.sftawareness.org/archives/modern-day-bathsheba/

Now a lot of people and a lot of books have painted a pretty picture of one of the greatest love stories of all time, implying that David and Bathsheba had consensual sex, but that’s not how I read the story. David was at home with too much time on his hands because he wasn’t where he was supposed to be, doing what he was supposed to be doing. So, in his boredom and restlessness, he wandered out onto his rooftop, probably surveying his kingdom, when lo and behold! He saw a woman bathing.

Scripture does not say that she was on a roof bathing. For all we know, she could have been in her own home, or at a bathing spot where women may have gone during that time. It’s unclear where she was, but I don’t believe that she was sinning as she bathed, and she had no way of knowing that King David was at home or that he had wandered onto his rooftop and that he would be observing her as she completed the purification rites after having her menstrual period. There is nothing in all of scripture that suggests Bathsheba was ever unfaithful to her husband prior to this episode with King David, nothing to suggest that she was promiscuous.

Now, imagine the fear and worry she must have felt when she was summonsed to the royal palace. Did she worry if something had happened to her husband, Uriah, or if perhaps she had unknowingly broken some law? And how do you think she must have felt when she arrived to the palace, and David looked at her lustfully, undressing her with his eyes?

Do you think that as she shivered with fear, David, who had already committed adultery with her in his mind, thought she was aroused? Did her mind desperately search for a way to tell him no, while he caressed her? Did she fear retaliation against herself? Her husband? Her family?

I can imagine how she felt, as her eyes darted around the room, looking for an escape, and her heart felt like it was about to beat right out of her chest. I can almost see her desperation, as it quickly dawns on her that this is the king, and if she fights him, he could very easily kill her or worse, and no one would ever even know about it. I submit to you, that David not only committed adultery with Bathsheba – he raped her.

My reason for believing this is not just what I’ve written so far, but because of Bathsheba’s response when her husband died and the Lord’s response.  When Bathsheba heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. When the period of mourning was over, David sent for her and brought her to the palace, and she became one of his wives. Then she gave birth to a son. But the LORD was very displeased with what David had done. (2 Samuel 11:26-27 NLT)

Bathsheba mourned for her husband. Does that sound like the response of a wanton woman? Also, please note that scripture says that the Lord was very displeased with what David had done. If they had committed adultery together, consensually, the Lord would have been displeased with what David and Bathsheba had done.

I praise God that David repented of his sin, but I can understand why Jesus so strongly said, “You have heard that the law of Moses says, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust in his eye has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

So if your eye — even if it is your good eye — causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your hand — even if it is your stronger hand — causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.” (Matthew 5:27-30 NLT)

It’s a lesson we can all learn from, and none of us should ever even dare think, “Well, I would never do that,” because scripture says, “The human heart is most deceitful and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? But I know! I, the LORD, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.” (Jeremiah 17:9 NLT)

© 2012
Cheryl A. Showers