Tag Archives: Words of Jesus

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

Lord Have Mercy!

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

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

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

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

This is dictionary.com’s definition of mercy:

[mur-see]

noun, plural mer·cies for 4, 5.

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

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

eleeō

[e-le-e’-ō]

verb

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 2019
Cheryl A. Showers

All You Can Eat…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 2019
Cheryl A. Showers

Where Do You Live?

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

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

house_PNG50
House (Image Not Mine)

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

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

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

(John 15:4-8  NASB)

Strong’s Lexicon Definition for Abide

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(John 15:9-11 NASB)

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

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

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

(John 16:33 NLT)

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

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


* Emphasis added

© 2017
Cheryl A. Showers

What Would You Give for the Pearl of Great Value? Part 1

44 “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field.

45 “Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. 46 When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!”

Matthew 13:44-46  NLT

The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure, like a pearl of great value…  Jesus, the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God, Son of Man, King of kings and Lord of Lords, is the Treasure; He is that Pearl of great value!  Now, when the merchant and the man discovered this great Treasure, (Jesus), what did they do?  They sold everything they owned, so they could get that treasure.  There was nothing more important to them than getting that Treasure, the Pearl of great value.  Likewise, nothing should be more important to us than Jesus, our Pearl of great value…

23 Then He said to the crowd, If any of you wants to be My follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow Me. 24 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for My sake, you will save it. 25 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed? 26 If anyone is ashamed of Me and My message, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when He returns in His glory and in the glory of the Father and the holy angels. 27 I tell you the truth, some standing here right now will not die before they see the Kingdom of God.”

Luke 9:23-27  NLT

These words of Jesus are offensive to most people, including we, who call ourselves Christians.  Instead of trying to follow Jesus on our own terms, we must do as He says…

23 Jesus replied, All who love Me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make Our home with each of them. 24 Anyone who doesn’t love Me will not obey Me. And remember, My words are not My own. What I am telling you is from the Father who sent Me.

John 14:23-24  NLT

Do you love Jesus?  If you do, you will obey Him.  If you don’t obey Him, then you don’t love Him.  Do my words sound harsh?  They’re not my words.  Jesus said they’re not even His own words, but those of His Father. 

Before you take offense at what I’ve written, I should let you know that it’s taken me almost a week to write about this Pearl of great value, because I’ve had to deal with the fact that I haven’t been treating Jesus like the Treasure He is, for far too long…

Father, please forgive me for giving up on You.  Forgive me for doubting, Lord, help my unbelief!  Please forgive me for ignoring You, Lord, my Pearl of great value.  Forgive me, Lord, for trying to live on my own terms, and for refusing to carry my cross daily, following You.  Forgive me, my Lord, for trying to hang on to my life as I wanted it to be, instead of giving it up for Your will, instead.  Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your steadfast love.  According to the greatness of Your compassion, blot out my transgressions, and cleanse me from my sins.  Against You, and You only, I have sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You are just when You speak, and blameless when You judge…

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.  Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit away from me.  Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit.  Then, I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners will be converted to You!

As we study this parable about the treasure and the pearl of great value, the story of the rich young man immediately came to my mind.  Do you remember how the young man questioned Jesus about how to obtain eternal life?

17 As Jesus was starting out on His way to Jerusalem, a man came running up to Him, knelt down, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked. “Only God is truly good. 19 But to answer your question, you know the commandments: ‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. You must not cheat anyone. Honor your father and mother.’”

20 “Teacher,” the man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.”

21 Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.”

22 At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

Mark 10:17-22  NLT

This man seemed to do everything right.  He obeyed all of God’s commands, but when he stood before (Jesus) the Pearl of great value, he failed to recognize His worth.  Although he was willing to obey God’s law, he was unwilling to give up his earthly treasures, unlike the merchant and the man, who discovered the buried Treasure and the Pearl of great value.  Jesus, who felt genuine love for this man, even tried to make everything clear to him, saying that if he sold everything, he would have Treasure in heaven, but the man failed to recognize the Treasure (Jesus) speaking to him… and so, with a sad look on his face, the man walked away from the greatest Treasure he could ever hope for, because he already had so many possessions that he couldn’t bear to part from…

23 Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God!” 24 This amazed them. But Jesus said again, “Dear children, it is very hard to enter the Kingdom of God. 25 In fact, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!”

26 The disciples were astounded. “Then who in the world can be saved?” they asked.

27 Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.”

Mark 10:23-27  NLT

Hear me now…  People throughout the world are seeing Jesus’ miracles, signs and wonders, even in this day and age, while here in the United States, we see few, if any.  Do you wonder why this is?  It is because we already have so many treasures of our own, that we don’t hunger or thirst for that Pearl of great value.  Even the poor of this nation, (and I am counted among the poor) are not truly poor in comparison to the rest of the world…

You see, though I have very little money to live on each month, it is still more than others around the world have…  I still have plenty of food to eat…  I have a car (it’s old, but it’s paid for, and it runs)…  I have a computer…  I have medical care when needed…  Do you see?  In this nation that I love, I lack for nothing that I need, and I praise God for that.

Yet, this fact remains.  My poverty is not poverty as the world knows it.  Because all of my needs were met when I was able to work, and now they are met by the government, to whom do I run, first, when another need arises?  Who am I depending on?  When my back pain became unbearable, did I turn to Jesus first?  Or did I turn to the doctor?  When the doctors could offer me no help for the pain, and offered instead, a very risky surgery that could do more harm than good, was I angry with the doctors?  Or did I get angry with Jesus, that Pearl of great value, who still hasn’t healed me in the last four or five years? 

Until right now, I haven’t even admitted this to myself.  I stopped asking Jesus to heal me, because I didn’t want to be disappointed if He didn’t.  So, I became more and more depressed, for the last four years, and my faith began to shrink.  I just gave up on the great Treasure.  Now, instead of praying regularly, I seldom bothered to talk to Him.  Instead of enjoying His presence, I wallowed in my pain.  Unlike Job, when I lost my health, I also lost much of my faith… much of it, but not all of it. 

For the God who saved me many years ago, remained faithful to me, in spite of my unfaithfulness.  Though I had lost hope in Him, in His great mercy, He restored my hope.  Then, as I began this study, about the great Treasure, I was convicted, because I have neglected this Pearl of great value.  How could I write about this great Treasure, when I have failed to fully appreciate His value?

For almost a week, I watched TV, played video games, and did what I could, to ignore this study.  I didn’t want to think about it.  I didn’t want to deal with the fact that I had not treated Jesus as the great and wonderful Treasure that He is.  Then, yesterday, as I tried to nap, I heard a still small voice whispering to my spirit, and reminding me of other times when He’s healed me.  In 2004, I had a hyperactive thyroid that was so bad, the doctor was talking about doing a procedure to burn out my thyroid gland.  I was taking blood pressure medicine, and still my blood pressure was through the roof.  I shook with tremors constantly.  My heart rate was super high, and I suffered many other symptoms because of it, but I remember praying for God to heal me one night at church, and He did!  To this day, my thyroid is normal, and so is my blood pressure, heart rate, etc.  

As I thought of how the Lord has healed me in the past, I felt His presence strongly, and felt as though He was saying, “Trust Me. Ask Me to help you, and believe that I can and I will do it for you.”  I had stopped asking Him to heal my back several years ago, after living with the pain for more than a year, because I couldn’t bear the thought of asking Him for this, and being disappointed.  Instead, I chose to live with no hope, and without hope, there is only disappointment…  

Then I began to wonder,  “What if I’m the one who keeps derailing me?  What if God is ready to heal me, but I keep giving up on Him, before He can act?  What if He chooses not to heal my back?  Does this in any way devalue Him?  Is He not still, the great Treasure?  Isn’t He still the Pearl of great value?”

There is much more to this study, but for today, I leave you with this thought…  Is Jesus your great Treasure?  Is He your Pearl of great value?  Or do you, like I have done, treat Him as something of much lesser value?

© 2016
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

When Birds Come to Nest in Your Branches

31 Here is another illustration Jesus used: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. 32 It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches.”

Matthew 13:31-32  NLT

What is the Kingdom of Heaven?  Some say that the Kingdom of Heaven and the Kingdom of God are two different things, but, if you examine scriptures, Jesus spoke of them interchangeably…

30 Jesus said, “How can I describe the Kingdom of God? What story should I use to illustrate it? 31 It is like a mustard seed planted in the ground. It is the smallest of all seeds, 32 but it becomes the largest of all garden plants; it grows long branches, and birds can make nests in its shade.”

Mark 4:30-31  NLT

18 Then Jesus said, “What is the Kingdom of God like? How can I illustrate it? 19 It is like a tiny mustard seed that a man planted in a garden; it grows and becomes a tree, and the birds make nests in its branches.”

Luke 13:18-19  NLT

So, again, where or what is the Kingdom of God?  How do we find it? 

Egypt-Christians-AP

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

“What do you mean?” exclaimed Nicodemus. “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?”

Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.”

John 3:3-8  NLT

The first thing we need to understand about the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Heaven, is that only those who are born again will be able to see and enter it.  He also tells us that the Kingdom belongs to those who are poor in spirit…

“Blessed [spiritually prosperous, happy, to be admired] are the poor in spirit [those devoid of spiritual arrogance, those who regard themselves as insignificant], for theirs is the kingdom of heaven [both now and forever].”

Matthew 5:3  AMP

Jesus makes it clear in this verse that the poor in spirit (those devoid of spiritual arrogance, those who regard themselves as insignificant) have the kingdom of heaven…  He doesn’t say that the kingdom will be theirs, using the future tense.  He spoke in the present tense, meaning this is already so.

Therefore, since Jesus tells us that we must be poor in spirit to receive the kingdom of heaven, and that we must also be born again, in order to even see it or enter it, we must be poor in spirit in order to be born again.  For it is when I was poor in spirit, that I recognized my absolute need for a Savior.  Because I am poor in spirit, I know that apart from Jesus, I can do nothing.  I needed and I still need Jesus, and in order to be a part of His kingdom, I needed to be reborn.  I was already born of water from my mother’s womb, so now, I needed to be born of the Spirit.

“Blessed [forgiven, refreshed by God’s grace] are those who mourn [over their sins and repent], for they will be comforted [when the burden of sin is lifted].”

Matthew 5:4  AMP

It is because I was (and still am) poor in spirit, that I began to mourn (repent) of my sins, and I cried out to Jesus to forgive me and save me.  In that instance, He heard the cries of my heart, and I was born again.  He had not only forgiven my sins, He had also cleansed me from all unrighteousness.  I was no longer the same.  I had been transformed, not because of my goodness, but because of His mercy and goodness.  Immediately, I became a part of the Kingdom of God, because His Holy Spirit came to dwell within me.  For, His temple is not in a building made by human hands.  According to His word, His temple is now within my body…

19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? 20 For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20  NASB

The kingdom of heaven is here on earth, among His children, who have been born of His Spirit.  When two or more of us gather together in His name, He is here, in the midst of us.  If you have been born again, you are a part of His kingdom, and you can see it…

So, what is this kingdom like???

mustard-seed

31 Here is another illustration Jesus used: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. 32 It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches.”

Matthew 13:31-32  NLT

Remember, in His other parables, Jesus said that the seed represents God’s word, and the crop that grows from it represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word, and produce a large harvest…

23 The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!”

Matthew 13:23  NLT

Mustard Tree

Therefore, the tiny little mustard seed represents the word of God, planted into the hearts of man.  Then, that tiny little seed grew into an enormous tree, which represents the growth of the church.  Think about it, on the day of Pentecost, there were only about one hundred and twenty (see Acts 1:15) Christ followers, but after the Holy Spirit blew in, settling on them in the upper room, they rushed out into the streets, rejoicing.  Before the day was over, three thousand more believers had been added to their number (see Acts 2:41)!  Everyday after that, more and more believers joined them, as the church continued to grow enormously (see Acts 2:46-47).  Within a short time, the number of believers grew to five thousand (see Acts 4:4)As people were healed and witnessed many miracles, signs and wonders, crowds of men and women began to believe (see Acts 5:14)!  Indeed, as God’s message spread, the number of believers greatly increased.  Even some of the priests became believers (see Acts 6:7).

The church grew amazingly fast, and amazingly large.  Just look at how many people claim the Christian faith today.  In fact, as that mustard seed grew into a huge tree, birds came and made nests in it… Do you remember that the birds represented the evil one, snatching the word away  from the believers in the first parable we talked about in Sowing Seeds Begins with  Prayer?

Whenever scripture speaks to us in parables, they don’t change.  For instance, leaven (yeast) always represents sin.  The seeds in these stories, represents God’s word.  Likewise, the birds represent the evil one.  Whenever the word of God goes out, the enemy seeks to destroy it or snatch it away.  In this case, we see that the enemy has built nests within the church.  So, what does this mean?

In the parable we discussed yesterday, in The Wheat and the Weeds Know the Truth, we saw that the weeds, which were planted by the evil one, grew up right alongside of the wheat (true believers).  Likewise, today, we see the true believers (the church) represented by the mustard tree, and nesting within its branches, are the birds (those sent by the evil one, to snatch the word of God away from the believers).  Do you wonder if this is even possible?  Look at this warning from Jesus…

24 For false messiahs and false prophets will rise up and perform great signs and wonders so as to deceive, if possible, even God’s chosen ones. 25 See, I have warned you about this ahead of time.

Matthew 24:24-25  NLT

There are deceivers in the church, right now.  They are in the pulpits, on committees, and in the pews.  Some may seem righteous, but their hearts are black.  Therefore, it is vital that you know the Truth, and the only way to know Truth is by having a close relationship with Jesus.  Talk to Him and study His word.

16 Rejoice always; 17pray without ceasing; 18in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18  NASB

31 Jesus said to the people who believed in Him, “You are truly My disciples if you remain faithful to My teachings. 32 And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

John 8:31-32 NLT

15 “Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. 16 You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. 18 A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. 19 So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. 20 Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.

Matthew 7:15-20  NLT

Beloved reader, if you walk in close obedience to Jesus, you will not be fooled by the birds in the tree.  Even if you are momentarily fooled, God will open your eyes to the truth, and when He does, you  must proclaim the truth of God’s word to others, so that they will not be fooled.  I’m not telling you to kill the birds, because the Lord will remove them, when the time is right.  I’m telling you to speak the truth in love and walk in truth. 

15 But speaking the truth in love [in all things—both our speech and our lives expressing His truth], let us grow up in all things into Him [following His example] who is the Head—Christ.

Ephesians 4:15  AMP

15 Study and do your best to present yourself to God approved, a workman [tested by trial] who has no reason to be ashamed, accurately handling and skillfully teaching the word of truth.

2 Timothy 2:15 AMP

If you will do this, beloved, you need have no fear of the birds (enemies of God’s word) in the church (followers of Christ).

© 2016
Cheryl A. Showers

The Wheat and the Weeds – Know the Truth

24 Here is another story Jesus told: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a farmer who planted good seed in his field. 25 But that night as the workers slept, his enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat, then slipped away. 26 When the crop began to grow and produce grain, the weeds also grew.

27 “The farmer’s workers went to him and said, ‘Sir, the field where you planted that good seed is full of weeds! Where did they come from?’

28 “‘An enemy has done this!’ the farmer exclaimed.

“‘Should we pull out the weeds?’ they asked.

29 “‘No,’ he replied, ‘you’ll uproot the wheat if you do. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. Then I will tell the harvesters to sort out the weeds, tie them into bundles, and burn them, and to put the wheat in the barn.’”

Matthew 13:24-30  NLT

Let’s examine this parable and discover its meaning…

24 Here is another story Jesus told: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a farmer who planted good seed in his field.

Matthew 13:24  NLT

We learned yesterday, from Sowing Seeds Begins with Prayer, that the good seed that was planted, represents the word of God that was planted in the hearts of people…

1 In the beginning the Word already existed.
    The Word was with God,
    and the Word was God.
He existed in the beginning with God.
God created everything through Him,
    and nothing was created except through Him.
The Word gave life to everything that was created,
    and His life brought light to everyone.

John 1:1-4  NLT

Jesus told him, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one can come to the Father except through Me.

John 14:6  NLT

Jesus is the word of God.  He is the living, and the spoken word of God.  Every scripture that has ever been inspired or God breathed, points us to Jesus.  And Jesus made it clear that He is the only Way to God.  He made it clear that He is the Truth, and that He is Life.  Those who hear this and understand this, represent the good seed that the farmer spread onto the ground…

Let’s look at a portion of the prayer that Jesus prayed for those representing the good seed, on the night before He was crucified…

13 “Now I am coming to You. I told them many things while I was with them in this world so they would be filled with My joy. 14 I have given them Your word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. 15 I’m not asking You to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. 16 They do not belong to this world any more than I do. 17 Make them holy by Your truth; teach them Your word, which is truth. 18 Just as You sent Me into the world, I am sending them into the world. 19 And I give Myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by Your truth…”

John 17:13-19  NLT

This is such an important passage for the good seed.  Do you see what Jesus said?  He gave us God’s word.  He gave us Himself.  When we become the good seed, by hearing and believing God’s word, He makes us holy. 

Jesus knew that He would be crucified the next day, and so He asked the Father to make us holy by His truth.  Do you remember who Jesus said the Truth is?  God’s word, Jesus, is Truth.  We become holy, good seed, by God’s Truth – Jesus…

weeds and wheat

25 But that night as the workers slept, his enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat, then slipped away. 26 When the crop began to grow and produce grain, the weeds also grew.

Matthew 13:25-26  NLT

Who is the enemy of God?  We all know that the devil is God’s enemy, but did you know that the devil isn’t God’s only enemy?

1 What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrongyou want only what will give you pleasure.

You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God. Do you think the Scriptures have no meaning? They say that God is passionate that the spirit He has placed within us should be faithful to Him.

James 4:1-5  NLT

42 Jesus told them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, because I have come to you from God. I am not here on My own, but He sent Me. 43 Why can’t you understand what I am saying? It’s because you can’t even hear Me! 44 For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 So when I tell the truth, you just naturally don’t believe Me! 46 Which of you can truthfully accuse Me of sin? And since I am telling you the truth, why don’t you believe Me? 47 Anyone who belongs to God listens gladly to the words of God. But you don’t listen because you don’t belong to God.”

John 8:42-47  NLT

The weeds that were planted among the wheat or the good seed, weren’t just the devil.  It included religious leaders, and people who call themselves men and women of God, though they really hate the truth.  Paul even warned Timothy about this…

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. 5 They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!

2 Timothy 3:1-5  NLT

Beloved, Jesus didn’t tell these parables just because He liked telling good stories.  He was telling them to prepare His people then and now, and to warn them.  Today, in the church, (I’m not talking about  the various buildings, where people attend services.  I’m talking about the people themselves, who claim to be Christ followers.) there are many false beliefs and practices, which have sprung up over the last two thousand years, since Christ’s death and resurrection.  Some false beliefs and ideas came from merging true Christianity with pagan practices.  Others came from people trying to make Christianity more appealing to the masses, by ignoring obedience, and making Christianity more worldly.  Still other false practices and beliefs came from the very pit of hell, in order to deceive the people of God. 

Because of this, we have men and women in the pulpit, preaching lies to their congregations.  Some deliberately deceive their followers, while others unwittingly do so, as they repeat the lies that they have been taught, ignorant of the truth themselves.  That is why it is vital for each person to pray to the Almighty in Jesus’ name, asking Him to reveal the Truth to them.  Also, when you read a book by a Christian author, or a post, such as this one, pray and seek the truth in the scriptures for yourself.  I’m human, and though I don’t want to mislead anyone, I do make mistakes.  See if what I’m telling you lines up with the word of God.  Likewise, whenever you read something by any Christian author, see if it lines up with God’s word.  Beloved reader, you don’t want to be mislead, because God isn’t going to separate the weeds (the deceivers) from the wheat (true Christ followers), until the last day…

27 “The farmer’s workers went to him and said, ‘Sir, the field where you planted that good seed is full of weeds! Where did they come from?’

28 “‘An enemy has done this!’ the farmer exclaimed.

“‘Should we pull out the weeds?’ they asked.

29 “‘No,’ he replied, ‘you’ll uproot the wheat if you do. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. Then I will tell the harvesters to sort out the weeds, tie them into bundles, and burn them, and to put the wheat in the barn.’”

Matthew 13:27-30  NLT

The deceivers and the deceived continue grow along with the lovers and believers of the truth.  Therefore, pray, study and read God’s holy scriptures, for in them, you will find the truth…

16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.

2 Timothy 3:16-17  NLT

© 2016
Cheryl A. Showers

Sowing Seeds Begins With Prayer

Later that same day Jesus left the house and sat beside the lake. A large crowd soon gathered around Him, so He got into a boat. Then He sat there and taught as the people stood on the shore. He told many stories in the form of parables, such as this one:

“Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seeds. As he scattered them across his field, some seeds fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate them. Other seeds fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seeds sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. But the plants soon wilted under the hot sun, and since they didn’t have deep roots, they died. Other seeds fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants. Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted! Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”

Matthew 13:1-9  NLT

When Jesus walked the earth, fulfilling the Law and the prophets, He was here to seek and save those who were lost.  Yet, He knew that He would soon be leaving the earth, and He needed to prepare His disciples to continue His ministry, when He was gone.  Of course, He knew that we would have His Holy Spirit living within us, but there were still many things He needed to teach us about ministry.  Therefore, He shared this parable with the people.

Later, after He explained why He spoke in parables to His disciples, (see Why Parables) He explained the meaning  of this parable…

Birds ate seeds

18 “Now listen to the explanation of the parable about the farmer planting seeds: 19 The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message about the Kingdom and don’t understand it. Then the evil one comes and snatches away the seed that was planted in their hearts.

Matthew 13:18-19  NLT

Have you ever tried to share the love of Christ with someone, and he/she just doesn’t get it?  Even though the reality of Him is so real and so clear, this person simply can’t grasp what you’re saying.  This has nothing to do with a person’s intelligence.  I’ve known people who have read the bible from cover to cover, without ever hearing it speak to them.  It often seems like the most logical people believe in the most illogical things.  They’re more willing to believe in “coincidence”, rather than God’s answer to someone’s specific prayer.  Or, they might believe in some unproved theory, such as evolution or a cosmic disaster from which life evolved, rather than seeing the evidence of God’s creative design.

The reason for the disbelief of many of these people is found in Matthew 13:18-19  NLT.  Though they have heard the word of God, before it reached their hearts, the evil one came and snatched it away.  It doesn’t matter how much knowledge a person has, if the word of God never reaches his/her heart.  Therefore, don’t be discouraged when you meet someone like this, because you now know how to pray for him/her.  Pray that God’s word would reach this person’s heart, and that its roots would grow deep…

rocky gound

20 The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy. 21 But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word.

Matthew 13:20-21  NLT

When I ministered in prison, I can still remember how mightily the Lord would work on the hearts of the women.  I remember one woman, in particular, who was so on fire for the Lord, and when she was released, she asked me to come to her home and pray for her, her new home, and her children, which I gladly did.  I took her to church with me, and she wept through the whole service.  She was so thankful to God for setting her free, and so was I, but, within a month, she was using crack again, and prostituting herself.  She ended up going to another prison.  It broke my heart.  I continued to pray for her for several years after this (I still pray for her, whenever I think of her, like now), and I visited her at the other prison, and again, after she was released from that prison.  The last I heard, she was living with a man that she wasn’t married to, but she was no longer using drugs.  Still, sadly, she also wasn’t walking with the Lord.  Oh, she knew the Christian lingo, but the fruit she bore, told another story.

I was really discouraged by this, and yet, it’s clear to me now, that she represented the rocky soil spoken of in Matthew 13:20-21  NLTFather, I pray, in Jesus’ name that You would break the rocky soil of my friend’s heart, until it is no longer hardened against Your word.  And I pray, Lord, that You would once again sow the seed of Your word into her heart, so that those seeds would take root, and those roots would grow deep into her heart.  Let faith grow strong within her, and rekindle the love and the joy she once felt for You, in Jesus’ name.

thorns

22 The seed that fell among the thorns represents those who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth, so no fruit is produced.

Matthew 13:22  NLT

Have you ever met someone who worries about everything, all the time?  As I read Matthew 13:22  NLT, my heart goes out to someone that I love dearly, and I’m moved to pray for this beloved person, for whom I haven’t known how to pray.  In all honesty, I simply get so frustrated with this loved one, that I don’t even bother to pray.  Father, forgive me for my impatience, and please touch the heart of this loved one, and remove the thorns of worry and anxiety that plague him/her constantly.  Lord, just as You sent Your word and healed many others, I ask You to send Your word to my loved one, after the thorns are removed, and heal him/her, in Jesus’ name.

fertile soil

23 The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!”

Matthew 13:23  NLT

Of course, everyone wants to minister to someone who will truly hear and understand God’s word, but having lived with farmers for the last thirty-five years, I’ve learned a few things about soil.  Did you know that not all soil is good for planting?  Most times, soil has to be worked, fertilized and prepared for planting.  Then, once it’s been planted, it needs to be weeded and tended.  Knowing this, isn’t it just possible, that Jesus told this parable to the disciples (and to us too!), so they wouldn’t just give up on people? 

Perhaps, we need to begin praying for God to work the soil of the hearts of those we love and minister to, so they will be prepared to receive the word of God, when it is planted…

© 2016
Cheryl A. Showers

Why Parables???

I love the parables of Jesus.  They give me something to ponder and pray about.  My prayer is that my ears would not simply hear the words, but that I will listen to His words, heed them, and understand them.  Father, open my ears, that I may hear.  Open my eyes, that I may see, and open my heart and mind, so that I may understand Your words and live in obedience to them.  In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

Jesus often spoke to people in parables, and His disciples asked Him why He did this…

10 His disciples came and asked Him, “Why do You use parables when You talk to the people?”

11 He replied, “You are permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, but others are not. 12 To those who listen to My teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them. 13 That is why I use these parables,

For they look, but they don’t really see.
    They hear, but they don’t really listen or understand.

14 This fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah that says,

‘When you hear what I say,
    you will not understand.
When you see what I do,
    you will not comprehend.
15 For the hearts of these people are hardened,
    and their ears cannot hear,
and they have closed their eyes—
    so their eyes cannot see,
and their ears cannot hear,
    and their hearts cannot understand,
and they cannot turn to Me
    and let Me heal them.’

16 “But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. 17 I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but they didn’t see it. And they longed to hear what you hear, but they didn’t hear it.”

Matthew 13:10-17  NLT

These words sound harsh to many, but they give me hope.  Have you ever tried to share the truth of the gospel to someone, and no matter how clear it is to you, they just don’t get it?  Indeed, they don’t even want to hear about this Jesus, who has captured your heart.  Have you ever walked away from a situation like this, feeling like a failure?  I have…

Yet, perhaps the failure wasn’t mine.  Perhaps, in His great wisdom, this was part of the lesson that Jesus gave His disciples (that includes all of His followers), so that they would continue in the work that He gave them, even when they felt as though they had failed.  I have shared the gospel with friends, family, people I love, and with enemies, sometimes, with great success.  Other times, I’ve faced abysmal failure, which left me feeling ill-equipped and unworthy of sharing this Good News.

Yet, as I read these words of Jesus, my heart wonders, “Is it possible that they heard, but they didn’t listen?  Could they have seen, and yet not seen?”  Again, I am reminded of something else Jesus spoke to His disciples…

44 For no one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws them to Me, and at the last day I will raise them up.

John 6:44  NLT

When I think of the prophets of long ago, crying out for the people of God to repent, they weren’t welcomed with open arms and open hearts.  No, they were mocked, scorned and ridiculed, at best.  Many were even assaulted, and murdered for sharing God’s Good News.  Many were killed by the religious leaders of their day. 

So, why is it, that I expect things to be easier for me?  Why is it, that I expect the church to embrace me in love, when I don’t have any words that will tickle their ears?  Though I speak the truth in love, most still don’t want to hear it. 

15 For the hearts of these people are hardened,
    and their ears cannot hear,
and they have closed their eyes—
    so their eyes cannot see,
and their ears cannot hear,
    and their hearts cannot understand,
and they cannot turn to Me
    and let Me heal them.’

Matthew 13:15  NLT

Still, we must continue to speak the truth in love, and proclaim the good news whenever we are given the opportunity…

1 I solemnly urge you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus, who will someday judge the living and the dead when He comes to set up His Kingdom: Preach (proclaim) the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching.

For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths.

But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you.

2 Timothy 4:1-5  NLT

Beloved, Jesus commanded all of us to go and make disciples of all nations.  Every man, woman and child, who comes into a relationship with Jesus Christ has been given the honor and the privilege of sharing the Gospel with those we come into contact with.  Therefore, let us not be discouraged when it seems that no one is listening, or that no one really cares.  It is our joy and honor to speak the truth in love, and trust the Father to draw whomever He will to Jesus.  It is also our privilege to call upon the Lord to open the eyes, ears, hearts and minds of those with whom we share the Gospel, and let Him reap the results.

I ministered in prison for ten years, and during that time, I saw many of the same women leave and return to prison again and again.  Sometimes, I was certain they had finally seen the light, only to watch in sorrow, as they returned to prison again and again.  Yet, I don’t believe my time there was wasted, because I only know what the Lord led me to speak and do.  I don’t know who really listened and understood in their heart, but God does.  My time wasn’t wasted, because I obeyed Him, and I drew closer to Him, as He filled my heart with love for the women I ministered to.  We may never see all of the results of our labor, before our time in this life is finished, but let us be like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all of the prophets who have gone before us…

1All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth. 14 Obviously people who say such things are looking forward to a country they can call their own. 15 If they had longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back. 16 But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.

Hebrews 11:13-16  NLT

Father, I pray that You would continue to give us, Your children, eyes to see and ears to hear You.  Give us hearts that are willing to obey You and walk humbly with You, O Lord.  Show us Your ways, and let us not look to the right or to the left, but help us to keep our eyes firmly fixed on You. 

Please help us not to be discouraged by what seems like failure to us.  Instead, give us a willing spirit to speak Your word in and out of season, no matter whether it is received by others or not.  And when our work here is finished, Father, let us be able to join Paul in saying…

Finished the Race - 1

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of His return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to His appearing.

2  Timothy 4:7-8  NLT

© 2016
Cheryl A. Showers

My Forever Friend

Friend

by Ben Huberman

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

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

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

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

Ephesians 1:4 NLT

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

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

John 15:16 NLT

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

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

2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT

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

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

Colossians 1:15-16, 21-22 NLT

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

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

John 15-9

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

John 15:9-17 NLT

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

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

What a Friend We Have in Jesus

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

    1. to remain, abide

      1. in reference to place

        1. to sojourn, tarry

        2. not to depart

          1. to continue to be present

          2. to be held, kept, continually

      2. in reference to time

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

          1. of persons, to survive, live

      3. in reference to state or condition

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

    2. to wait for, await one

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

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

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

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

John 15:10 NLT

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

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

John 15:11 NLT

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

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

John 15:12-13

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

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

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

John 15:14-17 NLT

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

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

© 2016
Cheryl A. Showers

Obedience – How Important is it Really???

Many believers are under the misconception that because we are saved by grace, obedience is no longer necessary.  In fact, there are some who consider grace to be a license to sin.  So, in response to these prevailing attitudes, I have a question…  How important is obedience, really?

love-is-obedience

22 But Samuel replied,

“What is more pleasing to the Lord:
    your burnt offerings and sacrifices
    or your obedience to His voice?
Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice,
    and submission is better than offering the fat of rams.
23 Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft,
    and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols.
So because you have rejected the command of the Lord, He has rejected you as king.”

1 Samuel 15:22-23 NLT

Yes, this is an Old Testament reference, but let’s not forget this fact; the New Testament God we serve, is the same God who was in the Old Testament, and He hasn’t changed…

I am the Lord, and I do not change. That is why you descendants of Jacob are not already destroyed. Ever since the days of your ancestors, you have scorned My decrees and failed to obey them. Now return to Me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.

Malachi 3:6-7 NLT

22 It was now winter, and Jesus was in Jerusalem at the time of Hanukkah, the Festival of Dedication. 23 He was in the Temple, walking through the section known as Solomon’s Colonnade. 24 The people surrounded Him and asked, “How long are You going to keep us in suspense? If You are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”

25 Jesus replied, “I have already told you, and you don’t believe Me. The proof is the work I do in My Father’s name. 26 But you don’t believe Me because you are not My sheep. 27 My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from Me, 29 for my Father has given them to Me, and He is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand. 30 The Father and I are One.

John 10:22-30 NLT

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Hebrews 13:8 NLT

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

James 1:17 NLT

You see, beloved friends, whether we lived in Old Testament times, New Testament times, or in the hereafter, God remains the same.  Therefore, since God found obedience pleasing in Old Testament times, and since He hasn’t changed, then we can infer that God still finds obedience pleasing and that He always will.  Furthermore, when we rebel against God by disobeying Him, then we have committed a sin as bad as the sin of witchcraft.  And though we are saved by grace, through faith, (Praise God!), God still commands and desires our obedience.

john-14-15-free-bible-verse-desktop-wallpapers

Moreover, because Jesus and God the Father are One, then His commands are God’s commands, just as God’s commands are His.  So, when we read Jesus’ words, we can also deduce that His words are God’s words, and it is the Lord who tells us:

15 If you love Me, obey My commandments.

John 14:15 NLT

Do you love Him?  Then, you MUST obey His commandments.  We don’t obey His commandments in order to be saved, because we know that we are saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus…

God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 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

Therefore, we respond to God with love, as a result of His wonderful gift of salvation to us, and if we love Him, then we will obey His commandments.  What’s more, obedience is so important to Jesus, that He spoke to His disciples about it the night before He died…

15 If you love Me, obey My commandments.

John 14:15 NLT

I’ll ask you again.  Do you love Jesus???  Let’s see what He says about love and obedience…

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

John 15:9-17 NLT

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The scriptures are very clear.  Obedience is absolutely necessary, if we love God.  It’s not an option; it’s a requirement, not for salvation, but for remaining in God’s love.  Think about it.  If Jesus’ whole life was lived in obedience to God, then how can we even begin to think that we are exempt from obedience?  Again, make no mistake, we must obey God, if we call ourselves His children…

46 So why do you keep calling Me ‘Lord, Lord!’ when you don’t do what I say? 47 I will show you what it’s like when someone comes to Me, listens to My teaching, and then follows it. 48 It is like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against that house, it stands firm because it is well built. 49 But anyone who hears and doesn’t obey is like a person who builds a house without a foundation. When the floods sweep down against that house, it will collapse into a heap of ruins.

Luke 6:46-49 NLT

21 “Not everyone who calls out to Me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. 22 On judgment day many will say to Me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in Your name and cast out demons in Your name and performed many miracles in Your name.’ 23 But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from Me, you who break God’s laws.

Matthew 7:21-23 NLT

Beloved friends, it doesn’t matter how eloquent a preacher is, if he doesn’t live in obedience to God, it means nothing.  It doesn’t matter how much you talk about the love of God, if you don’t obey Him, you simply don’t love Him, and if you don’t love Him and obey Him, then how can you remain in His love?  Do I sound harsh?  These aren’t my words, or my interpretation of the scriptures.  This is what Jesus said…

15 If you love Me, obey My commandments.

John 14:15 NLT

21 Those who accept My commandments and obey them are the ones who love Me. And because they love Me, My Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal Myself to each of them.

John 14:21 NLT

“I have loved you even as the Father has loved Me. Remain in My love. 10 When you obey My commandments, you remain in My love, just as I obey My Father’s commandments and remain in His love.

John 15:9-10 NLT

Beloved, here is the truth.  If you have been saved by God’s grace, you can’t help but respond to Him in love, and the out-flowing of that love is the desire to please the One who loved us, while we were still lost in sin.  When you truly love Christ, it isn’t a sacrifice to give up on our old ways.  What becomes of utmost importance to us, is the yearning to live a life that brings glory and honor to Him, and disobedience no longer has any place in our lives.

Does this mean that we will never mess up again?  Of course not!  As long as we walk in this body of flesh, there will be times when we sin and fall short of God’s glory.  The difference between one who lives a life of obedience for Christ, and fails from time to time, and one who refuses to live a life of obedience, is that the one will fall, repent, and cry out to God for mercy and help, while the other will justify his/her sin.

As you can see, beloved reader, obedience is not an option.  It is vital to the life all who truly love Christ.  So, let’s examine our own hearts and ask ourselves, “Do I really love Jesus?  Does my love show in my obedience to His word?”  Please join me in praying this prayer that David prayed…

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;

    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 Point out anything in me that offends you,
    and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

Psalm 139:23-24 NLT

© 2016
Cheryl A. Showers

Obedience = Love/How to Be Filled With the Holy Spirit

Spirit filled

18 Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, 19 singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts.

Ephesians 5:18-19  NLT

The first part of Ephesians 5:18, (Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life…”) is a no-brainer.  We’ve all known and loved people who allow drunkenness to ruin their lives and the lives of their loved ones as well.  Too much liquor over a short time, can at the very least, cause people to act foolishly, and at the very most, cause death, either from alcohol poisoning, or by drinking and driving.  Drunkenness leads to a loss of self-control, and clouds one’s mind, leading to broken families, broken marriages and much pain, to oneself and to those who care about that person.  This is a warning that all should heed.

Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, 19 singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts.

Ephesians 5:18b-19

… Be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts.  Be filled with the Holy Spirit…  What does it mean to be filled with the Holy Spirit and how do we get filled with the Holy Spirit?  On the night before He was crucified, Jesus told His disciples how to be filled with the Holy Spirit…

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15 If you love Me, obey My commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. 17 He is the Holy Spirit, Who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive Him, because it isn’t looking for Him and doesn’t recognize Him. But you know Him, because He lives with you now and later will be in you. 18 No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you. 19 Soon the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me. Since I live, you also will live. 20 When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am in My Father, and you are in Me, and I am in you. 21 Those who accept My commandments and obey them are the ones who love Me. And because they love Me, My Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal Myself to each of them.”

John 14:15-21  NLT

Let’s examine this passage closely, and see what Jesus says about being filled with the Holy Spirit.  The very first thing we must do, according to Jesus is to love Him and obey His commandments.  Let’s ask ourselves, “Do I love Jesus?”  If we do, we will obey His commandments.  These aren’t my words or interpretation, they are the words of Jesus…

15 “If you love Me, obey My commandments.

John 14:15  NLT

Those are powerful words.  Obedience isn’t popular these days.  Perhaps obedience has never been popular, but it is absolutely necessary, especially if we claim to  love Jesus.  Do you love Jesus?  If you do, obey Him.  Do you hate Him?  Then don’t obey Him.  It’s just that simple.  Those who truly love Jesus, obey Him.  Jesus makes this very clear to us.

22 Judas (not Judas Iscariot, but the other disciple with that name) said to him, “Lord, why are You going to reveal Yourself only to us and not to the world at large?”

23 Jesus replied, All who love Me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and We will come and make Our home with each of them. 24 Anyone who doesn’t love Me will not obey Me. And remember, My words are not My own. What I am telling you is from the Father who sent Me. 25 I am telling you these things now while I am still with you. 26 But when the Father sends the Advocate as My representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—He will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.”

John 14:22-26  NLT

A lot of people say they love Jesus, but their lives tell another story.  All who truly love Jesus will do what He says.  Again, those aren’t my words.  They are the words of Jesus.  Anyone who doesn’t love Him, will not obey Him.  These words force us to examine our own hearts.  Do I obey Jesus?  Or do I rebel against Him?  What are Jesus’ commandments?  An expert in religious law once asked Jesus this question:

36 “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”

37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

Matthew 22:36-40  NLT

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Do we love the Lord, our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength?  According to Jesus, this is the first and greatest command.  Therefore, if we love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, we will obey His commandments, and that means that not only will we love Him, but we will love our neighbors as we love ourselves. 

So, who is our neighbor?  When He was asked that question, by an expert of religious law, Jesus answered by telling him the story of the good Samaritan, who showed mercy to an injured man, who normally would have been his enemy; while those who should have loved him and cared for him, left him to die.  (See Luke 10:30-37)  Therefore, according to Jesus, our enemies are our neighbors, and we must show them love and mercy.

So, let’s ask ourselves, “Do I really love Jesus?  Do I truly want to be filled with the Holy Spirit?”  If your answer to these questions is yes, then we must obey His commands.  We must love our neighbor and our enemy, as we love ourselves…

43 “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. 44 But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! 45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For He gives His sunlight to both the evil and the good, and He sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. 46 If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. 47 If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. 48 But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.

Before we continue with our study of being filled with the Holy Spirit, let’s examine our own hearts.  This command that Jesus gives us is not an easy command.  It isn’t easy to obey this command to love our enemies. 

I’ve heard many people preach and teach about loving your enemy, and I’ve heard a lot of false teaching about it, so I want to be sure that we truly understand Jesus’ command.  The best example for knowing how to love our enemy comes from none other than Jesus.  Let’s see how He handled His enemies, beginning with His betrayer, Judas Iscariot…

Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that His hour had come to leave this world and return to His Father. He had loved His disciples during His ministry on earth, and now He loved them to the very end. It was time for supper, and the devil had already prompted Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had given Him authority over everything and that He had come from God and would return to God. So He got up from the table, took off His robe, wrapped a towel around His waist, and poured water into a basin. Then He began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel He had around Him.

John 13:1-5  NLT

Fully aware that Judas Iscariot had betrayed Him, Jesus still chose to lovingly wash his feet.  Later, after the foot washing was done, Jesus spoke about His betrayer…

18 “I am not saying these things to all of you; I know the ones I have chosen. But this fulfills the Scripture that says, ‘The one who eats My food has turned against Me.’ 19 I tell you this beforehand, so that when it happens you will believe that I am the Messiah. 20 I tell you the truth, anyone who welcomes My messenger is welcoming Me, and anyone who welcomes Me is welcoming the Father who sent Me.”

21 Now Jesus was deeply troubled, and He exclaimed, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray Me!”

John 13:18-21  NLT

Think about what Jesus must have felt as He knelt down on His knees to wash Judas Iscariot’s feet, knowing that this man, whom He had loved and cared for, was His betrayer.  What strength Jesus showed, in kneeling before him, and washing his feet, just as He had washed the feet of His other disciples.  What kindness He showed Judas, by not revealing His betrayer’s identity to the other disciples…

22 The disciples looked at each other, wondering whom He could mean. 23 The disciple Jesus loved was sitting next to Jesus at the table. 24 Simon Peter motioned to him to ask, “Who’s He talking about?” 25 So that disciple leaned over to Jesus and asked, “Lord, who is it?”

26 Jesus responded, “It is the one to whom I give the bread I dip in the bowl.” And when He had dipped it, He gave it to Judas, son of Simon Iscariot. 27 When Judas had eaten the bread, Satan entered into him. Then Jesus told him, “Hurry and do what you’re going to do.” 28 None of the others at the table knew what Jesus meant. 29 Since Judas was their treasurer, some thought Jesus was telling him to go and pay for the food or to give some money to the poor. 30 So Judas left at once, going out into the night.

John 13:22-30  NLT

Whenever I read John 13, I can’t help but marvel at the great love Jesus showed to His betrayer.  Although He knew very well that Judas was a thief (John 12:6), as well as His betrayer, Jesus treated Him with great lovingkindness and mercy.  Just think about it, the closer you are to someone, the more painful the betrayal.  Jesus loved His disciples like brothers, and this brother’s betrayal cost Jesus His life.  Yet, even knowing this, Jesus didn’t shout his name out, so the other disciples would perhaps take care of Judas Iscariot on their own, and get rid of  him, using any means necessary.  Instead, Jesus lived what He taught.  He lived a life of love and obedience.

What about you?  Have you ever been betrayed?  Have you been stolen from, lied to, used or abused?  Do you love your abuser?  Or do you hold on to your pain, hating those who have hurt you and betrayed you?  Do you want to be filled with the Holy Spirit?  Then choose to obey Jesus’ commandments, starting with His command to love…

Father, I pray that You would touch the heart of every person who reads these words, and that You would fill our hearts with Your love.  Help us to love those who don’t love us.  Help us to love those who love those who have harmed us.  Help us to love others, just as You have loved us.  In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

© 2016
Cheryl A. Showers

Jesus – My Hero

"Touch of Faith" Simon Dewey
“Touch of Faith”
Simon Dewey

19 So Jesus and His disciples got up and went with him. 20 Just then a woman who had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding came up behind Him. She touched the fringe of His robe, 21 for she thought, “If I can just touch His robe, I will be healed.”

22 Jesus turned around, and when He saw her He said, “Daughter, be encouraged! Your faith has made you well.” And the woman was healed at that moment. ~Matthew 9:19-22 — NLT ~

Image Credit: MUSETRACKS
Image Credit:
MUSETRACKS

Long before Julia Roberts, George Clooney, Britney Spears and Alec Baldwin (just to name a few) had to deal with paparazzi following them wherever they go (even to the men’s or ladies’ room), Jesus dealt with them. In fact, He was dealing with paparazzi before the word was even thought up. Of course they didn’t have cameras back then, but Jesus had to deal with the rest of it. He was followed everywhere He went (except when He was able to slip away into the wilderness to be alone and pray to His Father). He was constantly being stopped on the street and hemmed in by the crowds of people, who all seemed to want something from Him…

And now, here He was, on His way to help someone else, and the crowds are pushing in all around Him. Try to imagine what it must have been like. The crowd was so thick that the disciples were surprised that Jesus would have noticed being touched by any one person, but of course, this was Jesus, and as big as that mob of people was, He still noticed when someone simply touched the hem of His garment…

43 A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding, and she could find no cure. 44 Coming up behind Jesus, she touched the fringe of His robe. Immediately, the bleeding stopped.

45 “Who touched Me?” Jesus asked.

Everyone denied it, and Peter said, “Master, this whole crowd is pressing up against You.”

46 But Jesus said, “Someone deliberately touched Me, for I felt healing power go out from Me.”47 When the woman realized that she could not stay hidden, she began to tremble and fell to her knees in front of Him. The whole crowd heard her explain why she had touched Him and that she had been immediately healed. ~ Luke 8:43-47 — NLT ~

Image Credit: I AM, The Word, and The Comforter
Image Credit:
I AM, The Word, and The Comforter

Now I would imagine that poor woman was scared out of her wits. There were people crowded in all around Jesus, so in order for her to get close enough to touch the hem of His garment, she would have had to push and shove her way through the throng. She was healed instantly when she touched His hem, so since her business was finished, she turned to leave. Then Jesus stopped and turned around, asking, “Who touched Me?” 

Can you imagine how Alec Baldwin would have reacted? Or how about Britney Spears or Justin Bieber? Any one of them would have very likely reacted violently to her touch, creating a big scene, probably humiliating her or even physically accosting her. After all, they’re really important people, in their own eyes…

But she didn’t touch one of them. She touched the most important Man to ever grace the earth with His presence. She didn’t touch the clothes of just any man, she touched the clothes of God’s Son. She didn’t just touch a king’s clothes, she touched the King of king’s clothes. She didn’t just touch some lord’s clothes. She touched the Lord of lord’s clothes. And how did He respond to this – this nobody?

Jesus turned around, and when He saw her He said, “Daughter, be encouraged! Your faith has made you well.” And the woman was healed at that moment. ~ Matthew 9:22 — NLT ~

How can you help but love Him? He was the only One to ever walk the face of the earth who could have looked around at the rest of humanity and felt superior, because He is SUPERIOR, and yet He not only treated the woman with respect and with kindness. He actually took the time out of His busy schedule to encourage her! “Daughter, be encouraged! Your faith has made you well.” 

Have you ever seen such love? Such grace? Such mercy? Such compassion? The only One who has ever walked this earth and truly was entitled to EVERYTHING, expected nothing and gave His all. Unlike the ones we call heroes today, He truly gave ALL that He had, because He placed everyone else above Him.

Beloved readers, just as He had compassion on the woman with the issue of blood, He has compassion on YOU. As He encouraged her, He wants to encourage YOU. Jesus loves you and He loves me just as much as He loved that woman, and you know what? Jesus is my hero!

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

A Teachable Moment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

Let the Dead Bury Their Own Dead

"Let the dead bury their own dead."
“Let the dead bury their own dead.”

21 Then another of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.”

22 But Jesus said to him, “Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”

~ Matthew 8:21-22 — NKJV ~

Image Credit: http://followpurity.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/jesus-hand.jpg
Image Credit:
http://followpurity.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/jesus-hand.jpg

What do you think when you read this scripture? Does it sound harsh to you? Does it seem like Jesus is being really cold in light of the pain the disciple must be feeling at the death of his father? I always struggled with that passage, and I’ll be honest with you, I prayed the Lord would give me the wisdom to understand this and to share it with you (and me too!).

And then I started thinking about it, and the Lord opened my eyes as He taught me… Let’s take note of the first thing that Jesus says to the man — “Follow Me…” Think about it. Jesus commanded the disciple to follow Him. He gives us the same command today, and we must make a choice. Will we follow Him? Or will we go our own way?

“Follow Me”, Jesus commands us, and we mustn’t let anything get in the way of this command. We must choose to follow Him, no matter what our circumstances are. If all is well, we must follow Jesus. If it seems as though all hell has broken loose, we must follow Jesus. Our lives depend on obeying this command to follow Jesus.

Now think about this, Jesus is LIFE, and this disciple wanted to leave LIFE, to go and be with his dead father. Yes, this was his father, but his father was dead. Really, there was nothing more that could be done for his father, but there was every reason for him to follow the One in whom there was LIFE.

4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

~ John 1:4-5 — NKJV ~

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. 26 And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

~ John 11:25-26 — NKJV ~

Let’s look at the passage of scripture we are studying again…

21 Then another of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.”

22 But Jesus said to him, “Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”

Matthew 8:21-22 — NKJV ~

When I read this passage now, I see the harshness of Jesus’ response borne out of love for His disciple. The disciple wanted to leave Christ to bury a dead man first. Think about it… Not only was this disciple putting something else ahead of the Lord, he was putting a dead man ahead of Him!

17 When I saw Him, I fell at His feet as if I were dead. But He laid His right hand on me and said, “Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last. 18 I am the living one. I died, but look—I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave.”

~ Revelation 1:17-18 — NLT ~

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Image Credit:
http://followpurity.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/jesus-hand.jpg

This disciple wanted to put a dead man ahead of the One who is the First and the Last. He was going to put a dead man, who had already lived his life — “Yes,” you may say, “but this was the man’s father!” — ahead of the One who holds the keys of death and the grave. Yes, although the dead man was the disciple’s father, he was dead. There was nothing more he could do for his father, because he was no longer among the living. What remained was the disciple, and the choice he made would determine whether he would be among the living or the dead.

Jesus’ statement, “Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead,” reminds me of one of my favorite passages in Deuteronomy 15, when Moses addresses the people of Israel, giving them the choice between life and death. I believe that this was Jesus’ message to His disciple and to every other man, woman and child who would follow, that they too must make a choice…

15 “Now listen! Today I am giving you a choice between life and death, between prosperity and disaster. 16 For I command you this day to love the Lord your God and to keep His commands, decrees, and regulations by walking in His ways. If you do this, you will live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you and the land you are about to enter and occupy.

17 “But if your heart turns away and you refuse to listen, and if you are drawn away to serve and worship other gods, 18 then I warn you now that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live a long, good life in the land you are crossing the Jordan to occupy.

19 “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! 20 You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God, obeying Him, and committing yourself firmly to Him. This is the key to your life. And if you love and obey the Lord, you will live long in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”

~ Deuteronomy 30:15-20 — NLT ~

Don’t you see the choice Jesus gave the young man? “Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” We can follow Him and let the dead bury their own dead, or we can leave Him to be with the dead… When He says, “Follow Me,” I can almost hear Him saying, just as Moses said to the children of Israel, “Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!” And now, after praying and meditating on this word, it no longer seems as though Jesus is being harsh. This passage is just another example of the wonderful, matchless and unmerited love of Christ for each and every one of us.

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers

To Tithe or Not To Tithe? (Part 5)

Greetings to My Beloved Readers,

Thank you so much for your patience in waiting for me to continue with the tithing series, To Tithe or Not To Tithe?, while I was temporarily out of commission. Thanks also to everyone who has been praying for me. I truly appreciate your prayers, more than you know…

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Image Credit:http://usafreemoney.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/bag_of_money_wallpaper-other.jpg

And now, let’s continue with the fifth part of the series, To Tithe or Not To Tithe?. In the last few posts, we’ve compared Old Testament teachings about tithing to New Testament teaching. Now, let’s take a look at the early church to see if they tithed. Let’s also see where their money went, and how they got it…

“It is admitted universally that the payment of tithes or the tenth of possessions, for sacred purposes, did not find a place within the Christian Church during the age covered by the apostles and their immediate successors.”

Hastings Dictionary of the Apostolic Church ~
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“The Christian Church depended at first on voluntary gifts from its members.”

~ Encyclopedia Britannica ~
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44 And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. 45 They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. 

~ Acts 2:44-45 — NLT ~
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Image Credit:
http://usafreemoney.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/
bag_of_money_wallpaper-other.jpg

As you can see from the scripture above, and from the references above, the early church did not tithe. Instead, all of the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. Now take note of who shared… All of the believers shared… This included apostles, pastors, prophets, teachers and evangelists, as well as everyone else…

Next, let’s look at what they shared… And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. ~ Acts 2:44 — NLT ~ Wow. Just think about this. All of the believers shared everything they had. Obviously, there would have been no apostles, pastors, prophets, teachers and evangelists who were independently wealthy from the tithes and offerings they received from other believers, because they would have shared everything they had. There would have been no worshipers or Christian musicians who charged people to see them and listen to their music, because it all would have been for the glory of God.

Finally, it’s important for us to see who the early church shared everything they had with… They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. ~ Acts 2:45 — NLT ~ The early church shared with those in need. Money was not collected to pay ministers, but to give to those who were in need.

“The New Testament nowhere explicitly requires tithing to maintain a ministry or a place of assembly.”

Bruce M. Metzger and Michael D. Coogan,Oxford Companion to the Bible ~
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Image Credit:
http://www.taringa.net/posts/imagenes/12339622/Catedrales-mas-asombrosas.html

As you can see, giving in the early church differs greatly from the church today, who gives first to pay for clergy, buildings, maintenance, heat and air conditioning for the buildings, utilities, administrative staff and administrative costs, and a portion goes to whatever denomination the church members belong to. It is only after this and so many other expenses are met, that the money taken in is shared with those in need, and then, it is often given very selectively, after those in need meet certain criteria. I can’t help but wonder what Jesus or the early apostles would think of the giving of tithes, which are given to support many pastors, evangelists and televangelists, who never even come in contact with those who are in need?

“The silence of the N.T. writers, particularly Paul, regarding the present validity of the tithe can be explained only on the ground that the dispensation of grace has no more place for a law of tithing than it has for a law on circumcision.”

Baker’s Dictionary, 1960 ~
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2 Corinthians 9 encourages the Corinthian believers, and us as well, to give to those who are in need. It is not a command to tithe to any church, but to give to those who are in need. It also encourages believers to determine in their hearts how much to give, and not to give reluctantly or in response to pressure. It does not command us to tithe our income…

In fact, after studying the subject, I’ve come to the conclusion that tithing is part of the Old Covenant, which was fulfilled by Jesus. Further, Old Testament tithing never included the people’s income – rather, they tithed their produce and their meat. Finally, we must remember that we are no longer under the law, therefore, if we tithe, we are placing ourselves under the law…

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.

~ Galatians 5:1 — NLT ~

I’d like to share one final thought about tithing and giving. The Lord wants us to give to the poor, orphans and widows. He wants us to give with a cheerful heart, not under compulsion. What if we listened to Holy Spirit as the early church did, and gave accordingly, not limiting ourselves to a 10% tithe? The early church shared freely of everything they had. If they had  nothing to give, they felt no shame for it. The early church didn’t need a lot of money to share the gospel with their coworkers, families, friends and acquaintances. 

My friends, I urge you to prayerfully consider what you’ve read in this series, and give according to what Holy Spirit leads you to give. Don’t limit yourselves by tithing to a place of worship. Instead, let Holy Spirit lead you to give to those in need, according to the will of God. 

Related Articles:

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers

To Tithe or Not To Tithe? Update

Greetings Friends,

Please forgive me for taking so long with my next post. Since returning home from my trip out of town, I’ve been under the weather, and with medication changes, unable to focus. Please keep me in your  prayers. I will be continuing this series and seeing it through its completion, so I ask for your continued patience.

May the Lord bless you!

Love,
Cheryl

To Tithe or Not To Tithe? (Part 4)

8 “Will a man rob God?
Yet you have robbed Me!
But you say,
‘In what way have we robbed You?’
In tithes and offerings.
9 You are cursed with a curse,
For you have robbed Me,
Even this whole nation.
10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse,
That there may be food in My house,
And try Me now in this,”
Says the Lord of hosts,
“If I will not open for you the windows of heaven
And pour out for you such blessing
That there will not be room enough to receive it.

Malachi 3:8-10 — NKJV ~

Image Credit: http://slaveoftheword.blogspot.com/ 2013/05/old-testament- tithing-passages- response.html
Image Credit:
http://slaveoftheword.blogspot.com/
2013/05/old-testament-
tithing-passages-
response.html

I’m really enjoying this study, and I don’t mind confessing that I’m learning as we go along too. I have also tithed for most of my walk with Christ, (at least since I seriously started serving Him), and until I complete this study, I will reserve my final judgment on tithing. What I am discovering is that many of the things I’ve always believed or been taught to believe about tithing were based not on what the scriptures say, but on the teachings of the church. Also, please understand that I am not telling anyone that they should not give as the Lord leads you to give, and until we complete this study, I’m not even telling you to stop tithing, especially if you feel that it is sinful not to tithe. 

The purpose of this study is for us to discover what the word of God truly says regarding tithing in the church. Please let me be very clear about one thing before we continue with our study, because several people have expressed concern that I might be encouraging you not to tithe. I am encouraging you to join me in this study of God’s word, and after we have completed the study, if you choose to continue tithing or to stop tithing, I encourage you to do so based on what the bible says, NOT because I told you to do so. Now that I’ve cleared that up, let’s continue our bible study with Malachi 3:10…

10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse,
That there may be food in My house,
And try Me now in this,”
Says the Lord of hosts,
“If I will not open for you the windows of heaven
And pour out for you such blessing
That there will not be room enough to receive it.

Malachi 3:10 — NKJV ~

Image Credit: http://www.templesanjose.org/ JudaismInfo/faq/temple wall.htm
Image Credit:
http://www.templesanjose.org/
JudaismInfo/faq/temple
wall.htm

In Malachi 3:10, the Lord instructs the Levite priests to, “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house…” 

In our previous studies, we learned that tithes were seeds and fruit, and herds and flocks. We also learned that 10% of these tithes were given to the Levite priests, who were dedicated to a life of service to the Lord and His temple, and had no land of their own, in order to provide food for them and their families. Therefore, in order to ensure that the Lord’s priests would always have enough to eat, the Lord instituted the tithe. This information is important, because it explains why it was important that there be food in God’s house.

Now look at the first part of that scripture again, “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house…” What was the storehouse, and where was it? (2 Chronicles 31)

  • The storehouse was where the tithes and offerings were kept until they were distributed to the priests.
  • The storehouse was located within the temple. 

There are several reasons why this scripture does not apply to Christians… 

  • Firstly, as I shared with you before, tithes were never cash or credit…
    • Tithes were for a sacrifice to God, and food for the Levite priests.
      • The priests served the Lord in the temple, offering sacrifices, playing music, mediating to God for the sins of the people, etc.
      • Because their lives were dedicated to the Lord, and they had no land of their own, 10% of the tithes were given to the Levite priests for food for them and their families.
      • After Christ was crucified, there was no longer a need for the priests to serve in the temple, because Jesus became our High Priest.
  • The temple was destroyed in 70 AD, and has not been rebuilt.
    • Therefore, there is no longer any storehouse.
    • Further, since Christ was crucified, He became the final sacrifice, and there is no longer a need to present tithes and offerings to the Lord to be sacrificed… In fact, it was never our sacrifices that the Lord desired…
      • You take no delight in sacrifices or offerings.
        Now that you have made me listen, I finally understand—
        you don’t require burnt offerings or sin offerings.
         ~ Psalm 40:6 
      • I want you to show love,
        not offer sacrifices.
        I want you to know me
        more than I want burnt offerings. 
        ~
        Hosea 6:6
    • Levite priests are no longer necessary, there is no longer a need to collect tithes to feed them.
    • Since the temple was destroyed, there is no longer a storehouse for the tithes to be brought to.

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Image Credit:
http://blog.adw.org/
wp-content/uploads/
Faces_of_Christ.jpg

Now, some claim that the storehouse we are now supposed to bring our tithes and offerings (cash and credit, no longer food, although scripture makes no mention of this change) to, is the church. However, according to the scriptures, the church is not the building or the place where we worship…

  • 22 And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. ~ Ephesians 1:22-23 — NKJV ~

According to the scriptures, Christians are the church. We are the body of Christ, not the building that we go to worship at. If I am in my home, then my home houses the church, but it is not the church. If I am in my car or Walmart, then they house the church, but they are not the church. When I go to my place of worship on Sundays, as soon as the men and women of God show up, that is where the church is, but as soon as we leave that building, although it may be dedicated to God, it is not the church. 

Not only that, but the bible tells us in several different places that not only are we (all Christians) the church, but we are also the temple of the Holy Spirit.

  • Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself… 1 Corinthians 6:19 — NLT ~
  • 19 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. ~ Ephesians 2:19-22 — NKJV ~

So, the tithes and offerings were brought to the storehouse for the purpose of sacrificing to God, and feeding the Levite priests. There is no longer any need to do either, because Jesus was the sacrifice for our sins once and for all. Further, consider this…

  • you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. ~ 1 Peter 2:5 — NIV ~
      • And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all He has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind He will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship Him. ~ Romans 12:1 — NLT ~
  • But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light. ~ 1 Peter 2:9 — NIV ~

The tithes and offerings were taken to the temple and given to the priests. If all Christians are the church and temple of the Holy Spirit, and if we are also a holy and royal priesthood, then it’s important to know this fact. The Levite priests were not required to tithe, because a portion of the tithes were to feed them. 

Therefore, since we are a royal priesthood, and the temple of God’s Holy Spirit, are we bound by the law to tithe? Also, let us not forget that the Lord doesn’t desire sacrifices, and the sacrifice that is required of all believers is for us to offer our bodies as a living and holy sacrifice, which is pleasing to the Lord. Brothers and sisters, this is truly the way to worship God. As I study the scriptures, which tells us that we are not bound by the law, why would God command His people to obey this law? And would He change the terms, requiring priests to pay tithes now, and changing the food offerings to cash or credit offerings? And to whom and where would God’s holy priesthood present tithes?

I urge you to prayerfully study the scriptures, asking the Lord to reveal the truth to you through His word. I also encourage you to join me for To Tithe or Not To Tithe (Part 5)when we will continue our study.

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers

To Tithe or Not To Tithe? (Part 1)

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I’ve been studying the scriptures and seeking answers about tithing. I know what the church’s stance on tithing is, and I know what non-church goers think about tithing, but frankly, I’m not interested in opinions. I want to know what God says about tithing, because I want to walk in obedience to Him in all areas of my life, because I truly do love Him with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. I also feel the Spirit leading me to share my findings with others who want to walk in obedience to the Lord.

I began my study by looking at some of the various scriptures we hear in church, urging us to tithe, and it soon became evident to me, that this was not something that could be answered in one  post. For this reason, I decided to do a series on this subject, so that we could do an in-depth study of God’s word and determine His will for us. After deciding to do a series on To Tithe or Not To Tithe?, I decided to start with one of the scriptures that I’ve heard used most frequently by pastors, evangelists and televangelists, when urging their congregations to tithe…

~ Luke 6:38 — NKJV ~

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Image Credit:
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Well, that seems pretty clear, doesn’t it? These are the words of Jesus, which means that it applies to His followers, therefore, we should all obey His words, if we want to receive the promised blessing… But wait!

It’s always important to study scriptures in their context, so that we can truly understand what the Lord’s will for us is. Therefore, let’s look at this scripture a little closer, in its context…

32 “But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. 35 But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. 36 Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.

37 “Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.

39 And He spoke a parable to them: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into the ditch? 40 A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher. 41 And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the plank in your own eye? 42 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me remove the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the plank that is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck that is in your brother’s eye.”

~ Luke 6:32-42 — NKJV ~

Did you see any mention of tithes and offerings in that passage of scripture? I didn’t. Please allow me to share with you what I did see in this passage of scripture…

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Image Credit:
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In Luke 6:32-36, Jesus is instructing people to love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return. He also instructs us to be merciful just like our heavenly Father is merciful. He also tells us that if we will do those things, our reward will be great, but He makes no mention of tithes in those verses, does He?

Now, let’s look at Luke 6:37-38, and see what Jesus tells us… In verse 37, Jesus tells us not to judge or condemn anyone, so you won’t be judged or condemned. He also tells us to forgive, and we will be forgiven. Then, in verse 38, He tells us to give, and it will be given back to us, good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”

In Luke 6:39-42, Jesus tells us that the blind cannot lead the blind, and the disciple cannot be above his teacher. Then, He continues speaking about judging others, and tells us that before we judge someone else, we must first examine ourselves and rid ourselves of the plank (sin) from our own eye, before trying to remove the speck (sin) from our brother’s eye.

Did you see anything at all about tithes and offerings in this passage of scripture?

“Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”

Luke 6:38 — NKJV ~

When you put this scripture into context, we discover that Jesus is instructing us to give mercy and forgiveness and it will be given to us, good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, it will be put into our bosom. For with the same measure that we use, it will be measured back to us…

Also, just to verify that we are interpreting this passage correctly, let’s look at Matthew’s account of this passage of scripture.

1 “Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. 3 And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? 5 Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

~ Matthew 7:1-5 — NKJV ~

Again, you can see clearly that Jesus was not talking about tithes and offerings in this passage. He was talking about showing your brother mercy and forgiveness, rather than measuring out judgment and condemnation against him.

Beloved readers, it is important for you to know God’s word for yourself, so that you will know what God’s will for you is. Jesus was commanding us to be merciful and forgiving when He spoke the words above. He was not commanding us to give money in this instance, nor was He promising to reward us with money. Therefore, if you give tithes and offerings expecting to receive back what you have given, good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you,” you could be very disappointed.

Please be sure to join me in this study of God’s word on tithing for Christians, so that we can understand what the Lord is truly commanding us to do. I look forward to sharing more with you in To Tithe or Not To Tithe? (Part 2)

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers

Words of Jesus – Real Authority

28 After Jesus finished speaking, the crowds were amazed at His teaching, 29 for He taught as one who had real authority — quite unlike the teachers of religious law.

~ Matthew 7:28-29 NLT ~

I briefly debated with myself about whether to include this under the category “Words of Jesus,” because this particular sentence wasn’t actually spoken by Jesus — it was spoken by the author of the book, Matthew, about Jesus. However, this sentence speaks loudly to me, because it is about the authority of Jesus’ words, therefore, I decided that this must be included in “Words of Jesus.” Continue reading Words of Jesus – Real Authority

Words of Jesus – “Not Everyone Who Says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ Shall Enter The Kingdom of Heaven…” Part 1

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ (Matthew 7:21-23 NKJV)

Today, I want to continue to study the Words of Jesus by examining our own hearts to determine if we are truly children of God. You see, just because you may be on the church’s administrative council, or the board of trustees, or a member of the choir, or the choir director, or a Sunday school teacher, or even a prophet, evangelist, apostle, bishop  or pastor, does not make you a child of God. These things to not guarantee you or me free admission to heaven. Indeed, even if someone works miracles, and does signs and wonders, this does not grant them the privilege of entering God’s Kingdom. 

There are many people in the U.S. and around the world who claim that they are Christians… many who attend church every time the doors are open… many who preach… many who prophesy and evangelize, but they are not who they say and even believe they are. Do you understand that claiming to be something, or someone does not make it true, not even if you believe what you’re saying? There are a lot of insane people who truly believe they are someone else, perhaps even someone famous, but no matter how much they believe, it is not true.

It’s the same with Christians. The Word of God tells us what we must do to be born again and saved… 

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. God did not send His Son into the world to condemn it, but to save it.

There is no judgment awaiting those who trust Him. But those who do not trust Him have already been judged for not believing in the only Son of God. Their judgment is based on this fact: The light from heaven came into the world, but they loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. They hate the light because they want to sin in the darkness. They stay away from the light for fear their sins will be exposed and they will be punished. But those who do what is right come to the light gladly, so everyone can see that they are doing what God wants.” (John 3:16-21 NLT)

How do you know if you are a Christian?

  • You must believe in Jesus Christ – that He is the only Son of God… 

 Salvation that comes from trusting Christ — which is the message we preach — is already within easy reach. In fact, the Scriptures say, “The message is close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart.” For 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. 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. As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who believes in Him will not be disappointed.” (Romans 9:8-11 NLT)

    • Contrary to what you’ve been told, praying a sinner’s prayer or repeating words after someone will not save you… Scripture says nothing about this… Remember in my post from January 17, 2013, you were warned to “Beware of False Prophets.” This is one of the false teachings that are taught, which lead people to think they’re saved when in reality, they only recited some words, which did not change their hearts…
    • Salvation comes from trusting Christ – do you trust Him?
    • Have you confessed with your mouth that Jesus is ***Lord? (see definition of Lord below)
      1. It is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. Have you confessed with your mouth that Jesus is Lord?
    • Do you believe in your heart that God raised Christ from the dead? Believing in your heart that God raised Christ from the dead, makes you right with God… 
      1. Please note – good deeds, random acts of kindness, giving to charity, following all of the commandments, etc. are not what makes us right with God:

We are all infected and impure with sin. When we proudly display our righteous deeds, we find they are but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall. And our sins, like the wind, sweep us away. (Isaiah 64:6 NLT)

  • You must trust Jesus…

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV)

    • Do you trust Jesus with all of your heart in all of your circumstances and situations?
    • Do you trust Him even though you don’t understand Him, and you cannot see how you can accomplish what He has sent you to do?
    • Do you trust Him even though you see no way out?
    • Do you trust Him to make all things work for good, even though you see no good in your situation?
    • Or do you rely on your own wisdom and ability to rescue you?
    • Or do you rely on others to help you?
    • Do you acknowledge Jesus in all your ways? Below is the definition for acknowledge from dictionary.com:
      1. to admit to be real or true; recognize the existence, truth, or fact of: to acknowledge one’s mistakes.
        1. In all of your ways, do you admit that Jesus is real and true, that He does in fact exist, and that He is the only One who gives you true love, life, hope, salvation, deliverance?
      2. to show or express recognition or realization of: to acknowledge an acquaintance by nodding.
        1. In all your ways, in everything that you do, to you show or express recognition… do you recognize Jesus as the Lord of your life?
          1. The definition for ***Lord in dictionary.com is:
            1. a person who has authority, control, or power over others; a master, chief, or ruler. 
            2. a person who exercises authority from property rights; an owner of land, houses, etc. 
            3. a person who is a leader or has great influence in a chosen profession: the great lords of banking. 
            4. a feudal superior; the proprietor of a manor.
            5. a titled nobleman or peer; a person whose ordinary appellation contains by courtesy the title Lord or some higher title.
      3. to recognize the authority, validity, or claims of: The students acknowledged the authority of the student council.
        1. In everything you do, in all your ways, do you recognize Christ’s authority?
        2. Do you seek to obey His will or your own?
      4. to show or express appreciation or gratitude for: to acknowledge a favor.
        1. In all that happens in your life… the good and the bad… do you show or express appreciation and gratitude for all that Christ has done for you?
        2. When you accomplish something, do you show or express appreciation and gratitude to Christ, or do you accept all of the accolades for yourself?
      5. to indicate or make known the receipt of: to acknowledge a letter.
        1. Do you make known to others all that Christ has done for you?

My friend, I urge you to pray about the things I’ve talked about in this post, and seek God’s face as well as His word. It is important that you research these things, that you read the Scriptures so that you will know whether I speak words of truth to you or not. Although there are many false  prophets who will pay for leading many people astray, understand that each person is also responsible for his/her own salvation. In other words, even though there may be a false prophet among you, misleading many people, each person is responsible to read the word of God to see if what they are being taught is in fact true… (To be continued…)

May the Lord bless you as you search His word for the truth, in Jesus’ name.

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers

Related Post:

Words of Jesus – Beware of False Prophets

“Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep, but are really wolves that will tear you apart. You can detect them by the way they act, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit. You don’t pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles. A healthy tree produces good fruit, and an unhealthy tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, the way to identify a tree or a person is by the kind of fruit that is produced.” (Matthew 7:15-20 NLT)

Photo Credit: http://sheepsclothing.tumblr.com/

There are so many preachers and teachers on television and in the church who tell us what we should and should not be doing. There are good ones and there are bad ones. The bad ones are the ones who claim to be Christians, and yet they preach and teach lies and false doctrines, and there are many poor unsuspecting people who are led astray by these false prophets.

The world has had its share of psychos who claim to be men of God, those who persuade a few to go the wrong way, like Jim Jones, David Koresh, or Fred Phelps of Westboro Baptist Church. These men are so crazy and off base, that while they may lead a small group of people astray, not too many people will follow them, because their teachings are so bizarre. 

Photo Credit: http://biblicalproof.wordpress.com/2011/06/02/beware-of-false-prophets/

What really concerns me, are the men and women on television and in the church, who preach false doctrine that feels and sounds good, and leads many people astray. That’s why Jesus said, “Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep, but are really wolves that will tear you apart.” Do you know how to recognize these false prophets?

Jesus didn’t want any of us to be confused or misled, so He told us how we could recognize false prophets. He said, “…the way to identify a tree or a person is by the kind of fruit that is produced.” So, let’s break this down. 

When scripture talks about bearing fruit, it is speaking about our character or our nature. You see, those who do not walk in the Spirit, walk in their flesh or their sinful nature. While those who do walk in the Spirit, have a new nature. 

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)

So, when Jesus tells us that the way to determine whether someone is a true man or woman of God, or a false prophet is to see what kind of fruit they bear, what He’s telling us is that they should not be living according to their old sinful nature.

When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, your lives will produce these evil results: sexual immorality, impure thoughts, eagerness for lustful pleasure, idolatry, participation in demonic activities, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, divisions, the feeling that everyone is wrong except those in your own little group, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other kinds of sin. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21 NLT)

Photo Credit: http://craigtowens.com/2012/06/03/sinful-nature-versus-spiritual-nature/

The apostle Paul makes it really clear what kind of fruit is produced by those who are not walking in the Spirit… This is the kind of fruit that a false prophet produces…

  • Sexual immoralityHow many people, claiming to be men and women of God are involved in sexual immorality, which includes fornication, adultery, homosexuality or pedophilia? It also includes pornography. And though it may seem harmless to some, flirting is included in this category as well, because it can stir up and awaken feelings within the one being flirted with, that should not be awakened.
  • Impure thoughts – A man or woman of God should not harbor impure thoughts.  

And now, dear brothers and sisters, let me say one more thing as I close this letter. Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. (Philippians 4:8 NLT)

  • Eagerness for lustful pleasure – Look closely at the man or woman who wants to instruct you. Who are they trying to please? Whose will are they fulfilling? Is it their will, or the will of God? Do they indulge themselves? Or are they willing to forsake their own desires so that they can accomplish God’s will for their lives?
  • Idolatry – Does the man or woman who is teaching, preaching or prophesying worship any idols? Look closely. Idolatry can come in many forms… some worship money (do they frequently preach about the need for more and more money?)… some worship themselves (do they constantly need to be catered to, rather than serving?)… As you listen to this man or woman speak, does it cause you to put them on a pedestal? 
  • Participation in demonic activitiesThis would not only include Satan worship, but also numerology, astrology, drug abuse, alcohol abuse…
  • Hostility Is this person hostile against those who don’t agree with him or her? 
  • Quarreling – Does this person get in arguments? Does this person start arguments? Does this person always have to have the last word? Is this person willing to admit when he or she is wrong?
  • Jealousy – Does this person get upset if you go to another church? Does this person get upset if you don’t come to church every time the doors are open? Does this person demand to know where you are, who you’re with, etc.?
  • Outbursts of anger – Does this person have outbursts of anger when things don’t go his or her way?
  • Selfish ambition – Does this person spend more time promoting the gospel, or does he/she spend more time promoting him/herself and his/her products, books, cd’s and dvd’s? Does this person only minister in large venues, where he/she can get the most notice and/or money?
  • Divisions – Does this person cause divisions in churches, families and friendships?
  • The feeling that everyone is wrong except those in your own little group – Does this person think that all other denominations are all wrong, except for his/her own?
  • Envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other kinds of sin – Does this person envy the success of others? Does he/she have or participate in wild parties? Other kinds of sin includes false teachings… 

Photo Credit: http://tchthoughtbox.blogspot.com/2012/10/fruit-of-spirit.html

Do you know if the person who is teaching or preaching to you is speaking truth? Do you understand that it’s your responsibility to examine the scriptures so that you will know for yourself if what you’re hearing is the truth or a lie? A true prophet, teacher, evangelist, pastor or apostle will bear this kind of fruit:

But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, He will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Here there is no conflict with the law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to His cross and crucified them there. (Galatians 5:22-24 NLT)

My friends, whose teaching do you listen to? Who are you following? Someone who produces the fruit of the Spirit or someone who yields the fruit of the flesh? Beware of false prophets. They’re everywhere, and they can easily lead you to hell.

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers

Daily Prompt: Hindsight

Now that you’ve got some blogging experience under your belt, re-write your very first post.
Daily Prompt: Hindsight

I’ve only been on WordPress since October, and my first post was about the Words of Jesus – Fulfilling All Righteousness. So, this is take 2, and the very first thing I noticed about my original post is that the Scripture reference is incorrect (typo). There is no Matthew 3:18 – the quote is actually from Matthew 3:15… Therefore, no matter what I write, it’s already improved.  🙂

But Jesus answered and said to him, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed Him. (Matthew 3:15 NKJV)

jesus
http://i562.photobucket.com/albums/ss66/BONEFIVESTAR1/jesus.jpg

Jesus allowed John to baptize Him in order to fulfill all righteousness. That’s just a small sentence, but they are first recorded words He spoke in the gospel of Matthew, which makes them very important. The whole gospel of Matthew points to Jesus as the fulfillment of prophecy, and here, in this third chapter of Matthew, we see that He is not only the fulfillment of prophecy, but also the fulfillment of all righteousness.

Therefore, Christians need to ask themselves, “If Jesus said that baptism was necessary for Him to fulfill all righteousness, should we also be baptized?” 

What do fulfill and righteousness mean anyway? Dictionary.com defines fulfill this way:

  1. to carry out, or bring to realization, as a prophecy or promise.
  2. to perform or do, as duty; obey or follow, as commands.
  3. to satisfy (requirements, obligations, etc.): a book that fulfills a long-felt need.
  4. to bring to an end; finish or complete, as a period of time: He felt that life was over
    when one had fulfilled his threescore years and ten.
  5. to develop the full potential of (usually used reflexively): She realized that she could
    never fulfill herself in such work.

Dictionary.com also defines righteousness as the quality or state of being righteous, which is characterized by uprightness or morality.

So, if Jesus said it was necessary for Him to be baptized in order to fulfill (to satisfy the requirements) all righteousness, is it necessary for us to do so as well? According to what Jesus said, baptism is a necessity in order to fulfill all righteousness.

In fact, on the day of Pentecost, (after Jesus was resurrected from the dead, and after He ascended into heaven) His followers received the gift of the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages (tongues), and when the people in the city of Jerusalem saw them, many of them believed in Jesus and asked what they should do. Peter replied, “Each of you must turn from 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.” (Acts 2:38 NLT) 

http://www.revivechurch.org/baptism-class
http://www.revivechurch.org/baptism-class

It’s obvious from both Jesus’ response and Peter’s response that baptism is necessary to fulfill righteousness. I like how the Complete Jewish Bible translates this verse,  Kefa (Peter) answered them, “Turn from sin, return to God, and each of you be immersed (baptized) on the authority of Yeshua the Messiah (Jesus the Christ) into forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit)!” 

Do you see? When we turn to Jesus, we turn away from sin, and we turn to God. This is called repentance. And when we turn to Jesus, we must be baptized in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins, or as the Complete Jewish Bible explains more clearly, we must be immersed on the authority of Jesus.

Dictionary.com gives us this definition for immerse:

  1. to plunge into or place under a liquid; dip; sink.
  2. to involve deeply; absorb: She is totally immersed in her law practice.
  3. to baptize by immersion.
  4. to embed; bury.

You’ll notice firstly, that immersion/baptism is not sprinkling, spraying or dripping. 🙂 It is to be plunged into or placed under a liquid… to involve deeply; absorb… to embed; bury. The apostle Paul explains the necessity of baptism more clearly in Romans 6.

You see, when we are baptized, we have turned away from sin, and our immersion into the water symbolizes the death and burial of our sinful nature. Then, as we arise from beneath the water (which symbolizes our grave), it symbolizes that just as Christ was resurrected from death, so we are resurrected into new life. Therefore, if anyone is united with the Messiah, he is a new creation – the old has passed; look, what has come is fresh and new! (2 Corinthians 5:17 CJB) 

How awesome is that? By submitting myself to baptism, I am submitting to Christ’s authority in my life. I’m saying that the sin that used to enslave me is dead and buried, and now I’m a new creation. Hallelujah! I’m fresh and new! You see, I’m no longer controlled by sin, even when I mess up and sin, it’s lost its control over me, because those bonds of slavery have been loosed.

Now, I have a new Master. I’m now a slave of righteousness. I submit to the authority of Jesus Christ, and His yoke is easy, and His burden is light. You see, He tells me to cast all of my cares on Him, because He cares for me.

When sin was my master, it didn’t care about me. When I was a slave to sin, I suffered much pain, and many terrible consequences for my actions. Sin was a cruel master. Sin’s ultimate goal for my life was death and eternal damnation.

My new Master, Jesus Christ, the Sun of Righteousness has given me so much more. You see, His ultimate goal for my life is an eternity spent with Him…

http://www.reliance-cc.org/whats-next/baptism/
http://www.reliance-cc.org/whats-next/baptism/

So, in conclusion, is it necessary for us to be baptized to fulfill all righteousness? Yes and no. 🙂 Jesus forgave the thief on the cross, and he certainly didn’t have a chance to be baptized before he died, yet Jesus said, “I assure you, today you will be with Me in paradise.” 

So, while baptism is not a requirement, the more I study the scriptures, the more I see the necessity of baptism. Think of it this way, if you were invited to a feast at the King’s table, and you were told you could eat as much as you want of everything that was there, would you do it? Or would you say, “No thank you. I’ll just lick the crumbs off the floor.” I can’t answer for you, but I can tell you what my answer is. Hallelujah! I want it all!

Words of Jesus – Enter the Narrow Gate

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

Kingdom
Kingdom (Photo credit: photoscott)

Jesus tells us that there is only one way to enter God’s Kingdom, through the narrow gate. Therefore, since there is only one way to enter, it’s important for us to know where that way is, especially since He says that only a few ever find it…

I love trying to discover shortcuts and new ways home, however, my children have never fully appreciated this little quirk of mine. Whenever I would suggest taking a shortcut, my children would usually groan and whine, and try to talk me out of it. You see, exploring and trying to find shortcuts might be okay if you have a sense of direction, but they learned at a very young age that their mother has absolutely no sense of direction. My shortcuts often found us miles and miles away from home, by the time I figured out where we were.

I always looked on it as an adventure. I figured we would eventually wind up somewhere I recognized. However, this was more troubling to my children, who may have wanted to get home in time for a favorite show, or even more urgent, they may have needed to use the bathroom.

English: Narrow road at Cwmmiles, Login
English: Narrow road at Cwmmiles, Login (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now, I have to tell you that as much as I like to ride, and as much as I enjoy riding around aimlessly in my car (Of course, this was when gas was affordable!), it would be horrible to spend my life, thinking I’m on the right road to the Kingdom of God, only to discover that I missed it. And listen to this, Jesus said that only a few ever find that road. Did you pick up on that? That means that there’s a whole lot of people who are going the wrong way, and only a few who have managed to go the right way.

Now for someone like me, who has no sense of direction, I want to make sure I study the road map and check to make sure my GPS is up to date, because I definitely want to be on the right road for the Kingdom of God. Therefore, I’m going to really dig into this so that I’m prepared for my journey to the Kingdom of God… Jesus said, “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate.” 

 The Greek word for narrow is stenos, which means narrow & strait.

Dictionary.com defines narrow:

  1. of little breadth or width; not broad or wide; not as wide as usual or expected: a narrow path.
  2. limited in extent or space; affording little room: narrow quarters.
  3. limited in range or scope: a narrow sampling of public opinion.
  4. lacking breadth of view or sympathy, as persons, the mind, or ideas: a narrow man, knowing only his professional specialty; a narrow mind.
  5. with little margin to spare; barely adequate or successful; close: a narrow escape.

Dictionary.com defines strait:

  1. Often, straits. ( used with a singular verb  ) a narrow passage of water connecting two large bodies of water.
  2. Often, straits. a position of difficulty, distress, or need: Ill and penniless, he was in sad straits indeed.
  3. Archaic. a narrow passage or area.
  4. an isthmus.
  5. narrow: Strait is the gate.
  6. affording little space; confined in area.
  7. strict, as in requirements or principles.

The first thing we have to know if we plan on journeying to the Kingdom of God is that the gate we’re supposed to go through is very narrow… It affords very little space, it’s very limited… And look at this – this narrow strait way is very strict in its requirements and principles. Do you understand the magnitude of this?

Day 306/365 - One Way
Day 306/365 – One Way (Photo credit: Great Beyond)

If we want to go on this journey to the Kingdom of God, then we’re going to have to go through a very narrow gate. We’re going to need to search for it, because it’s small and tight… And we’re going to have to meet some strict requirements and principles…

Okay, I can almost hear what you’re saying – “What about grace?” And that’s a fair question… Let’s examine this closely, because I don’t want to miss it, and I certainly don’t want to steer anyone down the wrong road.

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9 NASB) Brothers and sisters, you will never hear me dispute that we are saved by grace through faith, and that works do not save us. Scripture is very clear about this.

http://www.sunministries.org/Narrow.html
http://www.sunministries.org/Narrow.html

However, why were we saved? For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things He planned for us long ago. (Ephesians 2:10 NLT) We are not saved as a result of our works, but we are created to do good works after we’re saved… So, brothers and sisters, let’s examine ourselves, because the road is narrow and there are some strict principles that we must meet, not to earn our salvation, which is a gift from God, but as proof of our salvation.

Dear brothers and sisters, what’s the use of saying you have faith if you don’t prove it by your actions? That kind of faith can’t save anyone. Suppose you see a brother or sister who needs food or clothing, and you say, “Well, good-bye and God bless you; stay warm and eat well” — but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? So you see, it isn’t enough just to have faith. Faith that doesn’t show itself by good deeds is no faith at all — it is dead and useless.

Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” I say, “I can’t see your faith if you don’t have good deeds, but I will show you my faith through my good deeds.”

Do you still think it’s enough just to believe that there is one God? Well, even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror! Fool! When will you ever learn that faith that does not result in good deeds is useless?

Don’t you remember that our ancestor Abraham was declared right with God because of what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see, he was trusting God so much that he was willing to do whatever God told him to do. His faith was made complete by what he did — by his actions. And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: “Abraham believed God, so God declared him to be righteous.” He was even called “the friend of God.” 

So you see, we are made right with God by what we do, not by faith alone. Rahab the prostitute is another example of this. She was made right with God by her actions — when she hid those messengers and sent them safely away by a different road. Just as the body is dead without a spirit, so also faith is dead without good deeds. (James 2:14-26 NLT)

The Strait Gate
http://goodjesuitbadjesuit.blogspot.com/2010_03_01_archive.html

Do you see, brothers and sisters? On this narrow road, we must have a living faith, and faith without works is dead. There’s so much to say about this narrow road. You see, singing in the church choir, preaching from the pulpit, even casting out demons is no guarantee that you are walking on the narrow road.

In John 14, when Jesus is speaking to the disciples about His imminent departure, He talks about the way to where He is going.  “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.”

Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?”

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. (John 14:1-6 NKJV)

Do you see it again brothers and sisters? There is only one way, and this straight and narrow one way road is through Christ alone. And understand this, even though obedience is not popular, it is required. Do you love Jesus? Obey Him. Do you really love Jesus? The evidence of your love will be shown in your obedience to Him. Obedience is a requirement on the narrow road, don’t let anyone mislead you. Look what Jesus says about this:

  • Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32 NKJV) 
  • “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” (John 14:15 NKJV)
  • Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me. (John 14:23-24 NKJV)
  • “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.” (John 15:10 NKJV)
  • “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.” (John 15:12-14 NKJV)

Do you see how important obedience is to Jesus? Brothers and sisters, don’t let anyone mislead you. I’m not saying you have to obey in order to get saved. If that was the case, none of us would ever find that narrow road. But once you are born again, that changes.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV) You see, my old sinful nature passed away (it died), and I got a new nature… Before, I had no desire to obey or to please God. Now, I love Him, and more than anything, I want to please Him. Because I love Him, I want to obey Him, and because I love Him, when I disobey Him, it breaks my heart.

Brothers and sisters, if you’re not living a life of obedience, if obeying the Lord doesn’t seem important to you, then you need to begin to question yourself. Am I walking on the narrow road, which is difficult and confining?

Or is my way fairly easy? I don’t worry about obedience, because God loves me. He knows my heart. Brothers and sisters, I assure you that you’re right. God does know your heart. Remember? He’s the One who said,  “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it? 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) 

Brothers and sisters, let’s pray to the Father of Lights that He would show us the strait and narrow way, and that we would boldly walk that road, knowing that there will be periods of loneliness, because only a few ever find it.

Words of Jesus – Judge Not

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Matthew 7:1-2 NIV)

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A conversion of Image:Scale of justice.png to an SVG. The previous version was an automatic trace, whereas this version is a manual trace and of a higher quality. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This has got to be one of the most controversial things that Jesus said. It’s one of those scriptures that many quote, but few truly understand. Even the secular world quotes these verses, often as they judge Christians for being judgmental. So what exactly does Jesus mean when He speaks those words?

Look at this closely. It’s really important for us to know and understand. You see, we need to look at the words of Jesus and all scripture in its context. Therefore, in order to gain understanding, we need to look at the whole paragraph as we answer these questions…

  • Who was Jesus talking to?
  • What was He saying to them?
  • When did He say this?
  • Where did He say it?
  • Why did He say this?

Now that we’re armed with these questions, let’s look at the whole paragraph:

1 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:1-5 NIV)

  • The answer to the first question, (Who was Jesus talking to?) is found in verse 5. He was talking to hypocrites in the crowd, who were judging their brothers, without first judging themselves.
  • The second question that we need to answer is, What was He saying to them? The answer to this question is found in the whole text, but I’m going to paraphrase it. Jesus was telling them not to judge others for committing the same sins they were guilty of committing. He was telling them to straighten out their own lives before they condemn others, because they were going to be judged in the same way they were judging their brothers.
  • The third question we need to answer is, When did Jesus say this? To answer that question, we need to go back to Matthew 5. 1 Now when He saw the crowds, He went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to Him, 2 and He began to teach them, saying: (Matthew 5:1-2 NIV) Jesus spoke these words on the day He gave what many call His “Sermon on the Mount”
  • The answer to the fourth question is also found in Matthew 5:1. Where was Jesus when He said this? While the name of the mountain isn’t given, we do know that He sat on a mountain and taught the crowds.
  • The final question, Why did Jesus say this?, is found in the entirety of the paragraph.  There were hypocritical people who, in the midst of their own sins, were passing judgment on others who had committed the same sins, and Jesus cautioned them, saying, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Matthew 7:1-2 NIV)

So you see, Jesus wasn’t telling people not to judge. Rather, He was telling them not to

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judge unjustly and without mercy.

There are many places in scripture that tell us that we are to judge:

  • But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. (1 Corinthians 2:15 NKJV
  • When you have something against another Christian, why do you file a lawsuit and ask a secular court to decide the matter, instead of taking it to other Christians to decide who is right? Don’t you know that someday we Christians are going to judge the world? And since you are going to judge the world, can’t you decide these little things among yourselves? Don’t you realize that we Christians will judge angels? So you should surely be able to resolve ordinary disagreements here on earth. If you have legal disputes about such matters, why do you go to outside judges who are not respected by the church? I am saying this to shame you. Isn’t there anyone in all the church who is wise enough to decide these arguments? (1 Corinthians 6:1-5 NLT)

There are other scriptures which talk about judging in both the Old Testament and the New Testament, also. Just think about it for a moment. What would this world be like if there were no judgments against sin and against evil people?

Since there wouldn’t be any judgment, people would be free to do as they please. If someone was offended by something you said or did, they could kill or maim you without fearing any consequences, because consequences and penalties only come with judgment. Crimes such as robbery, rape and murder would no longer be crimes, because there would be no judgments outlawing such actions.

One thing I’ve learned since I became a Christian is that when the world quotes that scripture to me, Judge not, that you be not judged…” it is usually they who are judging me.

The Lord does not call us to be tolerant of sin. He hates sin. Remember, it was sin that

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nailed Him to the cross. He hates sin, because sin kills. It destroys lives. It condemns people to eternal damnation. He hates sin and calls for us to cry out against it boldly.

However, when we cry out against sin and evildoers, it is equally important for us to remember that although Jesus hates sin, He loves sinners. That’s why Peter says, The Lord isn’t really being slow about His promise to return, as some people think. No, He is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to perish, so He is giving more time for everyone to repent. (2 Peter 3:9 NLT) It’s also why Paul cautioned all believers to speak the truth in love. (Ephesians 4:15) 

The Lord wants us to cry out against sin for the sake of a lost and dying world. Remember, He commissioned us to go and make disciples of all nations. We are called to be watchmen on the wall. “Son of man, I have appointed you as a watchman for Israel. Whenever you receive a message from Me, pass it on to the people immediately. If I warn the wicked, saying, ‘You are under the penalty of death,’ but you fail to deliver the warning, they will die in their sins. And I will hold you responsible, demanding your blood for theirs. If you warn them and they keep on sinning and refuse to repent, they will die in their sins. But you will have saved your life because you did what you were told to do. If good people turn bad and don’t listen to My warning, they will die. If you did not warn them of the consequences, then they will die in their sins. Their previous good deeds won’t help them, and I will hold you responsible, demanding your blood for theirs. But if you warn them and they repent, they will live, and you will have saved your own life, too.” (Ezekiel 3:17-21 NLT)

Brothers and sisters, it’s extremely important for us to judge sin and to cry out against it. Just make sure that you’re not committing the same sins you’re crying out against, and make sure you extend the same mercy toward sinners that you want God to give to you.

© 2012
Cheryl A. Showers

Words of Jesus – Sh! Don’t Tell Anybody

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“Take care! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired, because then you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. When you give a gift to someone in need, don’t shout about it as the hypocrites do — blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I assure you, they have received all the reward they will ever get. But when you give to someone, don’t tell your left hand what your right hand is doing. Give your gifts in secret, and your Father, who knows all secrets, will reward you.

“And now about prayer. When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I assure you, that is all the reward they will ever get. But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father secretly. Then your Father, who knows all secrets, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:1-6 NLT)

Does anyone else struggle with this portion of scripture? I don’t mean to imply that I don’t understand what it says, because its meaning is abundantly clear! When I ask if anyone else struggles with this scripture, I mean does anyone else have difficulty living this one out?

There Jesus goes again, turning my world upside down. You see, my whole life I’ve bent over backwards to win people’s approval, first my parents, then later my teachers and later still, anyone’s approval! And then He comes into the picture and tells me to stop doing what I’ve always done – the only thing I know how to do.

Just when I think I’ve got a handle on things, and I’m really starting to do what’s right in my walk with the Lord, He shows me that I’m still not like Him as much as I want to be. “My thoughts are completely different from yours,” says the LORD. “And My ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts higher than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9 NLT)

So again, I’m thrown into a quandary. What happens when I try to walk this out, and people reward me with their praise? Do I lose out on God‘s blessing?

I don’t want to do that. You see, as much as I want others to love me and validate me, I NEED His love and approval, because the truth is, I could still write, preach, and minister without another person ever witnessing it, but, without His anointing, without His presence, without Him giving me the words, the heart and the mind to write and minister, I couldn’t do it!

Yes, it feels good when you deliver a powerful word from the Lord, and people confirm it. But, as I’ve said before, it also makes me apprehensive… What if my motives are wrong? What if I’m trying to please people more than Jesus? Lord, what if I’ve totally missed the mark?

And then, things become more challenging for me when Jesus speaks about prayer. “And now about prayer. When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I assure you, that is all the reward they will ever get. But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father secretly. Then your Father, who knows all secrets, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:5-6 NLT)

So, here’s my other dilemma. I’m a minister. I minister in prison and I’m part of the ministerial staff at my church, as well as being a Sunday School teacher, and I’m often called on to pray – Publicly – where others hear my prayers. And again, when I’m writing, I often pray as I write, and everyone who reads my posts, may at some point or other read my prayers.

Lord, am I cheating myself out of Your blessings? 

And I hear words of the Lord saying, 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 17:8-9 NLT) 

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You see, according to this, I don’t even know how wicked my heart really is, and my heart is likely to lie about its motives. I might think I’m doing the right thing for all the right reasons, when in reality, my heart may have deceived me. So, now what?

All I (we) can do is cry out to the Lord. Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends You, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. (Psalm 139:23-24 NLT) 

Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a right spirit within me. Do not banish me from Your presence, and don’t take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me again the joy of Your salvation, and make me willing to obey You. (Psalm 51:10-12 NLT)

He knows our hearts, better than we do, and He is able to search them out. Praise God, He is so faithful too, telling us that if we confess our sins to Him, He will forgive us and clean us up from all unrighteousness. Aren’t you grateful for that? I know I sure am.

So, in conclusion, God is interested in the motives of our heart. What motivates us to minister, to give, to pray or to serve? Is it the accolades we receive from others? If so, we’ve already received our reward. Do we do it for recognition? If so, that is our reward.

But what if we write, we pray, we preach and we minister, because His word is like a fire shut up in our bones and we grow weary when we try to hold it back? If some people are inspired by those words or “like” them, then we must make sure that we let them know they’re not our (my) words, but only a gift from Him. And if they dislike those words, they’re still His words, not ours (mine), and it’s all for His glory, and not ours (mine).

© 2012
Cheryl A. Showers

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Words of Jesus – D-I-V-O-R-C-E

“You have heard that the law of Moses says, ‘A man can divorce his wife by merely giving her a letter of divorce.’ But I say that a man who divorces his wife, unless she has been unfaithful, causes her to commit adultery. And anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” (Matthew 5:31-32 NLT)

I’ve had to think and pray about what to write regarding these Words of Jesus… Divorce is such a big topic and such a painful one, and I want to be sure that my words line up with His Word, and that I speak the truth in love. The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me and He has sent me to preach the good news to the poor and to heal the brokenhearted… So, I want the words that I speak to bring healing to broken hearts according to His will.

It’s been several days, and I’ve written and deleted, written and deleted about this topic – oh, did I say that I’ve written and deleted? I really couldn’t find the words, and for anyone who knows me, if I have to search for words, it’s because I’m not clearly hearing what the Lord is saying to me.

Then I sat down here a few minutes ago, thinking about the Scripture verse above, and the Lord placed a song on my heart, and suddenly, I knew that He was speaking to me about divorce, and that I needed to get ready to write. This is an old song that my mother used to sing at the top of her lungs when I was a little girl, and every time I heard her sing it, her voice sounded like she was crying. I never really thought about it or even understood it until now…

“For I hate divorce!” says the LORD, the God of Israel. “It is as cruel as putting on a victim’s bloodstained coat,” says the LORD Almighty. “So guard yourself; always remain loyal to your wife.” (Malachi 2:16 NLT) I want you to understand, the words that I am speaking are not words of condemnation to anyone who has been divorced. The fact is that my mother and my birth father divorced when I was still a toddler, and I love them both very much.

Rather than condemnation, these are words of love and truth. I share the Lord’s feelings about divorce, because He loves us and He wants the very best for us. As I listened to the song above, I felt a heaviness in my spirit, because divorce is so painful. And look at the reason the Lord gives for hating divorce. “It is as cruel as putting on a victim’s bloodstained coat,” says the LORD Almighty.

There’s no question about it. Divorce causes nothing but pain… pain to both spouses… pain to their children… pain to their families and friends… If you’ve ever been through a divorce or had a loved one who went through a divorce, you know this is true. God isn’t being harsh or cruel when His word says, Here is another thing you do. You cover the LORD’s altar with tears, weeping and groaning because He pays no attention to your offerings, and He doesn’t accept them with pleasure.

You cry out, “Why has the LORD abandoned us?”

I’ll tell you why! Because the LORD witnessed the vows you and your wife made to each other on your wedding day when you were young. But you have been disloyal to her, though she remained your faithful companion, the wife of your marriage vows. Didn’t the LORD make you one with your wife? In body and spirit you are His. And what does He want? Godly children from your union. So guard yourself; remain loyal to the wife of your youth.

“For I hate divorce!” says the LORD, the God of Israel. “It is as cruel as putting on a victim’s bloodstained coat,” says the LORD Almighty. “So guard yourself; always remain loyal to your wife.” (Malachi 2:13-16 NLT)

For those of you who are in the midst of a divorce, because your spouse has been unfaithful to you or because he/she has filed against you, or if you have ever been divorced, please know this. God sees you. He knows your pain. Psalm 56:8 says that the Lord has seen your sorrow, and that He has collected all of your tears in a bottle and recorded them.

The Lord also warns us not to seek revenge against the spouse or anyone who hurt you. Dear friends, never avenge yourselves. Leave that to God. For it is written, “I will take vengeance; I will repay those who deserve it,” says the Lord. (Romans 12:19 NLT)

I have to tell you, the Lord has so much to say about divorce, that one blog post could never cover it, but let’s just continue a little more… For those who have claimed that Jesus never speaks against homosexuality and same-sex marriage, I submit the following Scripture:

Some Pharisees came and tried to trap Him with this question: “Should a man be allowed to divorce his wife?”

“What did Moses say about divorce?” Jesus asked them.

“Well, he permitted it,” they replied. “He said a man merely has to write his wife an official letter of divorce and send her away.”

But Jesus responded, “He wrote those instructions only as a concession to your hard-hearted wickedness. But God’s plan was seen from the beginning of creation, for ‘He made them male and female.’ ‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ Since they are no longer two but one, let no one separate them, for God has joined them together.

Later, when He was alone with His disciples in the house, they brought up the subject again. He told them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries someone else commits adultery against her. And if a woman divorces her husband and remarries, she commits adultery.” (Mark 10:2-12 NLT)

As you can see, marriage is spelled out very clearly by Jesus – one man and one woman, and when they are married, the two are united into one. And again, Jesus makes it clear that since the two have become one, no one is to separate them, because God has joined them together.

You see, my beloved, a marriage is a lifelong commitment. It’s a covenant, not only between you and your spouse, but also between you and everyone else who witnessed your vows, including the Lord. When we marry, we vow to love, honor and cherish one another for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, for better or worse as long as we both shall live. Jesus was very clear when He spoke to the Pharisees about divorce. The only reason Moses allowed them to divorce was because they were wicked and hard-hearted, but God never sanctioned divorce.

I know that many reading these words are already hurting, and these words may feel like a hammer pulverizing your already broken heart, and beloved, that is not my intention as I write these words. I want to speak the truth to you in love, and Jesus said, “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Someone once said, “The truth hurts,” and sometimes it cuts like a knife, but Jesus said if you know the truth, it will set you free.

The apostle, Paul, wrote these words about divorce… Now, for those who are married I have a command that comes not from me, but from the Lord. A wife must not leave her husband. But if she does leave him, let her remain single or else go back to him. And the husband must not leave his wife.

Now, I will speak to the rest of you, though I do not have a direct command from the Lord. If a Christian man has a wife who is an unbeliever and she is willing to continue living with him, he must not leave her. And if a Christian woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he is willing to continue living with her, she must not leave him. For the Christian wife brings holiness to her marriage, and the Christian husband brings holiness to his marriage. Otherwise, your children would not have a godly influence, but now they are set apart for Him. (But if the husband or wife who isn’t a Christian insists on leaving, let them go. In such cases the Christian husband or wife is not required to stay with them, for God wants his children to live in peace.)  You wives must remember that your husbands might be converted because of you. And you husbands must remember that your wives might be converted because of you.  You must accept whatever situation the Lord has put you in, and continue on as you were when God first called you. This is my rule for all the churches. (1 Corinthians 7:10-17 NLT)

I know that some are outraged by what they are reading here, and I’m sure some are saying, “What about a situation where one spouse is abusing the other spouse and their children?” I hear your cries for help. I hear your pain – indeed, as a child brought up in an abusive household, I understand better than you know. Truly, the Lord understands your plight and it grieves Him. Step back for a minute and see what He said, Now, for those who are married I have a command that comes not from me, but from the Lord. A wife must not leave her husband. But if she does leave him, let her remain single or else go back to him. And the husband must not leave his wife

The Lord knows that because we live in a fallen world, there are situations that require one spouse leaving another, so He has given a provision for that, but because you made a covenant between your spouse, God and man, you must remain single, or if circumstances change, go back to your spouse. I know these words may not sit well with many of you, and it may seem unfair, because after all, don’t we deserve a little happiness?

And I would say to you that it wasn’t fair that Jesus had to go through all that He went through to pay for my sins and yours. And don’t you think that if anyone deserved happiness, it was Him? The walk of a man or woman of God is not any easy one, but it brings life to us. And though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, He promises to be with us and to comfort us. No matter how lonely and hurt we are, He understands and He tells us to cast our cares on Him, because He cares for us.

No matter how exhausted and alone we feel, Jesus says, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you. Let Me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke fits perfectly, and the burden I give you is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 NLT)

This is a hard word for us, but praise God, we have a gentle Savior who is there to carry our burdens. And His strength is made perfect in our weakness. Beloved, I am praying for every man, woman and child who has ever gone through the heartache and disillusionment of divorce. I pray that the Lord will give you wisdom to know where to go and what to do. I pray that He will give you peace in the midst of your storm. I pray that He will comfort you as you mourn and give you a garment of praise to take the place of the spirit of heaviness. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

© 2012
Cheryl A. Showers

Reconcile!

 

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“So if you are standing before the altar in the Temple, offering a sacrifice to God, and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there beside the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God. Come to terms quickly with your enemy before it is too late and you are dragged into court, handed over to an officer, and thrown in jail. I assure you that you won’t be free again until you have paid the last penny.” (Matthew 5:23-26 NLT)

This scripture is rich, but as I sat here reading it, wondering if I fully understand how to explain it, Holy Spirit led me to read it in another version… Actually, I’m going to use a paraphrase from The Message Bible… Hallelujah! Don’t you love how the Lord makes things plain for us?

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“This is how I want you to conduct yourself in these matters. If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God. “Or say you’re out on the street and an old enemy accosts you. Don’t lose a minute. Make the first move; make things right with him. After all, if you leave the first move to him, knowing his track record, you’re likely to end up in court, maybe even jail. If that happens, you won’t get out without a stiff fine.” (Matthew 5:23-26 MSG)

Now this is Jesus speaking to us. “This is how I want you to conduct yourself in these matters.” The bible is not only our love letter from God, it’s also our instruction manual. Do you want to know how to respond to a particular situation? Pray, then seek the answer in the instruction manual… 🙂 

“If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right.”  

Do you get what Jesus just said here? Boy, (now I’m going to step on some toes), this isn’t a message I’ve ever heard preached… Listen to this now, if you’re in church, worshiping, thinking about the argument you just had with whomever, abandon your offering… throw it down on the pew, back in your purse, whatever – drop it! Oh, and I love this part – immediately!

Wow! I always get pictures of things in my mind when I read something or think of something, and I boy do I have a mental picture right now! I wonder how many people would get up and run out of church on any given Sunday, if everyone actually obeyed this command? And it is a command!

Wouldn’t it be awesome if that happened? Can you see it? They’re singing the offering song, and as people are fishing around in their wallets and purses, a video flashes on the screens of their minds, of the argument they just had with someone, and several throw their purses or wallets down and run out. Everyone’s heads turn around to see what the commotion at the back of the church is all about, and suddenly they think of someone that they offended… maybe they didn’t say a word to that person… maybe that person just misunderstood them, but they know that person was offended, and up till now, they didn’t do anything about it. But NOW, as the Holy Spirit convicts them, they throw their money down and rush out the door… or maybe over to a brother or sister in the next pew… and they apologize and ask for forgiveness

I would love to be in that church service…  Lord, let me be bold enough to do just that, in Jesus’ name!

Now, after you make things right with the person you offended, you can come back and make your offering. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God.

Do you know one thing that irritates me with too many Christians? They are quick to pray, “O God, forgive me for cussing so and so out. Have mercy on me! I’m sorry Lord,” but they never seek forgiveness from the one they hurt.

Many times, it never occurs to someone that it isn’t enough to say you’re sorry to God. He wants us to be reconciled with the people that we’ve hurt… He even wants us to be reconciled with the people who have hurt us…

“Or say you’re out on the street and an old enemy accosts you. Don’t lose a minute. Make the first move; make things right with him. After all, if you leave the first move to him, knowing his track record, you’re likely to end up in court, maybe even jail. If that happens, you won’t get out without a stiff fine.”

Ok, so I’m walking down the sidewalk and someone from my past, who tormented me, approaches me. Notice the scripture doesn’t say that you were necessarily the one in the wrong… it could be that the other person hurt you. Go make peace with them anyway. There’s such wisdom in that… and it seems so wrong to my flesh…

Now wait just a minute, Lord! Are you trying to tell me that I need to approach that no good so and so after all the hell they put me through? Lord, have You lost Your mind?

“Do your part to live in peace with everyone, as much as possible.” (Romans 12:18 NLT)

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But Lord, they hurt me!

“You hurt Me, and I forgave you.”

But they lied about me!

“You lied about Me too, and I forgave you.”

But they deserve to be punished!

“Beloved, you deserve hell, but I paid the price for you so that you wouldn’t have to go there. Forgive them, and you will be forgiven.”

But Lord, it still hurts!

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“I know, My love, but that’s because you won’t let it go. Forgive them, Child, let it go, and I will carry your pain.”

Lord, I don’t know if I can…

“You can’t do it on your own, but you can do all things through Me. I will give you My strength to forgive and overcome the pain – if you want it.”

I do want it Lord. By Your grace and Your power, I can go to my enemy who hurt me and I can forgive in Your precious name.”

Hallelujah! Enough said? Be blessed and be reconciled brothers and sisters!

© 2012
Cheryl A. Showers

Words of Jesus – I Did Not Come to Abolish the Law of Moses

“Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the Law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to fulfill them. I assure you, until heaven and earth disappear, even the smallest detail of God’s Law will remain until its purpose is achieved. So if you break the smallest commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God’s Laws and teaches them will be great in the Kingdom of Heaven. But I warn you — unless you obey God better than the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees do, you can’t enter the Kingdom of Heaven at all!” (Matthew 5:17-20 NLT)

Moses with the Tables of the Law
Moses with the Tables of the Law (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is for everyone who quotes the Apostle Paul when he said,  “All things are lawful unto me…” 

Let’s get this straight… First of all, it really irritates me when people quote scripture out of context… Many Christians quote the Apostle Paul and use this to justify their sin. I like to look at the whole scripture in its context, so that we have an accurate understanding of what Paul was saying… I also like the New Living Translation, because this translation clearly expresses what Paul was saying in his letter to the Corinthians…

Don’t you know that those who do wrong will have no share in the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, who are idol worshipers, adulterers, male prostitutes, homosexuals, thieves, greedy people, drunkards, abusers, and swindlers — none of these will have a share in the Kingdom of God. There was a time when some of you were just like that, but now your sins have been washed away, and you have been set apart for God. You have been made right with God because of what the Lord Jesus Christ and the Spirit of our God have done for you. You may say, “I am allowed to do anything.” But I reply, “Not everything is good for you.” And even though “I am allowed to do anything,” I must not become a slave to anything (1 Corinthians 6:9-12 NLT).

faithfultotruth.blogspot.com/2011/04/humanitys-gain-from-unbelief-charles.html
faithfultotruth.blogspot.com/2011/04/humanitys-gain-from-unbelief-charles.html

Do you see? Just because we can do something, doesn’t mean that we should. Paul makes it very clear that those who live in sin will have no part in the Kingdom of God. It’s the same when people try to excuse their sin by saying, “I don’t live under the Law – that was for the Old Covenant. I live under the New Covenant.”

To be sure, we don’t live under the Old Covenant. As a matter of fact, for those of us who are Gentiles who have been grafted in, we are not bound by many of the Old Testament laws… But, it’s important for us to understand that this doesn’t mean that we’re lawless. Jesus didn’t come to break the Law. He didn’t come to end the Law. “Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the Law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to fulfill them. I assure you, until heaven and earth disappear, even the smallest detail of God’s Law will remain until its purpose is achieved. So if you break the smallest commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God’s Laws and teaches them will be great in the Kingdom of Heaven. But I warn you — unless you obey God better than the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees do, you can’t enter the Kingdom of Heaven at all!” (Matthew 5:17-20 NLT)

Look what Jesus is saying. He said He didn’t come to do away with the Law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. Jesus said He came to fulfill them, and that even the smallest detail of God’s Law will remain until its purpose is achieved… Further, He gives us a warning that unless we obey God better than the teachers of the law and the Pharisees did, we won’t enter the Kingdom of Heaven at all!

http://energybibleinoneyear.wordpress.com/2012/05/14/love-the-lord-your-god-with-all-your-heart-soul-mind-and-strength/

That makes it pretty clear, doesn’t it? So, like the teacher of religious law, our next question should be, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is the One and only Lord. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these” (Mark 12:28b-31 NLT).

The most important command is to love the Lord my God with all of my heart. That means with every beat of my heart, I am to love Him. I am to love Him with all of my soul – every one of my emotions must adore Him. I must love Him with all of my mind – as I meditate on His attributes, I can’t help but love Him. And I am to love Him with all of my strength. That means that my body is not my own any longer to do with as I please. Rather, I give my body in love to Him, so that every move I make, every breath I take, is an expression of love to my Savior!

Jesus said that the second greatest command was equally important. I must love my neighbor – anyone I come in contact with – as myself. I must treat my neighbor with love and respect, regardless of how they treat me. If I want to be forgiven, and I do, then I must forgive my neighbor… my father, my mother, my enemies…

By obeying these two commands, I am obeying the 10 Commandmentsthe Law of Moses. 

Lord, help me to obey Your commands. Let me love as You love, forgive as You forgive. Lord, increase my love for You and let me be a woman after Your own heart. In Jesus’ mighty, holy name I pray. Amen

© 2012

Cheryl A. Showers

Words of Jesus – Blessed Are The Merciful

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” (Matthew 5:7 NASB)

Mercy – compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender, an enemy, or other person in one’s power; compassion, pity, or benevolence…

What a powerful scripture! “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” (Matthew 5:7 NASB). What is Jesus saying here? Blessed is the person who is compassionate and kind toward someone who has offended him/her. Jesus was so radical! Blessed is the person who is patient with his/her offender. Blessed is the person who refrains from lashing out at his/her offender, who refrains from taking revenge on his/her offender. Blessed is the person who tolerates his/her offender.

Wow! This goes against the grain of all that the world teaches us… I have to treat my enemy with compassion and pity… Mercy is benevolence – not only do I refrain from taking revenge, I must also show that person kindness! Brothers and sisters, do you want the Lord to give you mercy? Then you must give those who have harmed you mercy.

Jesus makes it clear – you wanna be blessed? You wanna receive mercy? Then you have to give it away first. Sometimes His math just doesn’t make any sense to us. I have to give if I want to get…

And what about justice? I don’t know about any of you, but my heart (which is desperately wicked, by the way) cries out for justice! Why should I show mercy to the very ones who have wounded me? Shouldn’t they get what they deserve? 

And then I hear the Lord speak to me… “Do you want justice or vengeance?”

“Well aren’t they the same?” I question. Silence… OK – so I’ll look the definition up…

Vengeance – infliction of injury, harm, humiliation, or the like, on a person by another who has been harmed by that person…

Justice – the quality of being just; righteousness, equitableness, or moral rightness; the administering of deserved punishment or reward.

Hmmm… “Can I have both?” I ask only half-jokingly. Silence again… So He wants me to figure this out, and the truth is that I already know what I want. You see, I’ve been really horribly hurt – damaged by someone who was supposed to love me and protect me, and my flesh wants vengeance. My flesh wants that person to hurt at least as badly as I was hurt. My flesh wants that person to beg me for mercy…

“Did I make you beg Me for mercy?” I hear a voice speak to me. “Should I show you mercy or do you want justice? Or perhaps you would rather I seek vengeance against you?”

When I think about my life and all of the people I’ve hurt, whether wittingly or unwittingly, I shudder. When I think of the times in my life when I purposely rejected Jesus and went my own way, I feel a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. When I think about the justice I deserve or the vengeance I could receive, I am ashamed.

But still, I have to be honest with the Lord (I might as well be – He knows it all anyway!). “Lord, I don’t know how to me merciful, because my heart is cold… my heart has been broken… I can’t do it on my own. Will You help me?”

I don’t hear His voice this time, but I sense His presence, as He wraps His loving arms around me, cradling me as I cry, releasing all of the pain that’s been bottled up for so many years… And when every last tear is spent, something miraculous happens. I’m not hurt or angry anymore. As I feel Holy Spirit’s power coursing through my veins, I feel joy and peace. Even more amazing, the hatred and bitterness are gone, and I feel love for my perpetrator.

Now, I am able to show him not only mercy, but grace… “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” (Matthew 5:7 NASB)… Thank You Lord!

© 2012

Cheryl A. Showers

Words of Jesus – Blessed Are Those Who Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6 NKJV).

Do you know of anyone who is spiritually fat or filled? We are constantly bombarded with stories and images of injustices and unrighteousness, and it seriously grieves me. Does anyone else feel that way?

Right here, in this country that I love, we see politicians standing up for the very things that grieve God… The Democrats stand in favor of abortion, which is the slaughter of the unborn child. People can call that baby an embryo or a fetus, but the fact is that by the sixth week of gestation, the unborn baby has all of his/her organs. In fact, from the very instant the baby is conceived, it is a separate life living within his/her mother’s womb. Scripture actually talks about the unborn child… In fact, the Lord spoke these words to Jeremiah, the prophet, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:7 NKJV). 

If the Lord knew us before we were even placed in our mother’s womb, and he already had plans for our lives, how could any of us ever even consider killing an unborn baby? And yet, in our country from 1978-2008, over 50 million abortions were performed. That’s an average death rate of 4500-5000 abortions per year! This truly grieves the Lord… and it grieves me too. Is there anyone else who is grieved by this? Is there anyone who longs for… hungers and thirsts for righteousness? 

And when I think of what abortion has done to the lives of the many women who have been lied to… when I think of the many women who have lied to themselves and tried to convince themselves that the life growing inside of them is nothing more than a mass of tissue… when I think of the many women who have been traumatized because of their “Right to Choose” my heart breaks for the guilt and pain they still suffer today. And when I think of those who felt justified by their choice, I mourn for them too, because they have so clearly been deceived by the enemy of our souls… And YES, I hunger and thirst for righteousness… I long for that day when this evil will be outlawed!

Because I hunger and thirst for righteousness, I cannot bring myself to vote for anyone who is in favor of abortion… Because I hunger and thirst for righteousness, I cannot bring myself to vote for anyone who wants to change the marriage laws from one man and one woman to include homosexual marriage. God created man and woman for the purpose of procreation and the Lord commanded His people in Leviticus, “Do not practice homosexuality; it is a detestable sin” (Leviticus 18:22 NLT). 

And don’t think the Democrats are alone in their sins against God. Let’s look at the Republicans… Their hearts are for the wealthy and the truth is as they’ve shown time and time again, they have no heart for the poor… Let’s see what James tells us about this… My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim that you have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people more than others? For instance, suppose someone comes into your meeting dressed in fancy clothes and expensive jewelry, and another comes in who is poor and dressed in shabby clothes. If you give special attention and a good seat to the rich person, but you say to the poor one, “You can stand over there, or else sit on the floor” — well, doesn’t this discrimination show that you are guided by wrong motives? Listen to me, dear brothers and sisters. Hasn’t God chosen the poor in this world to be rich in faith? Aren’t they the ones who will inherit the Kingdom He promised to those who love Him? And yet, you insult the poor man! Isn’t it the rich who oppress you and drag you into court? Aren’t they the ones who slander Jesus Christ, whose noble name you bear? Yes indeed, it is good when you truly obey our Lord’s royal command found in the Scriptures: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you pay special attention to the rich, you are committing a sin, for you are guilty of breaking that law (James 2:1-9 NLT). 

When I see this evil, my heart hungers and thirsts for righteousness! And if that isn’t enough, let’s look at the man who many Christians and Churches are endorsing for the Presidency… Mitt Romney – a wealthy Mormon high priest. Brothers and sisters, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the Mormon Church) is not a Christian organization. This religion was founded by a pedophile named Joseph Smith, and their Jesus is not our Jesus! They claim that their god came down to earth and had sexual intercourse with Mary and that their Jesus was conceived through this union. They also claim that their Jesus and Lucifer are brothers. They believe that the men of their religion will one day become gods, who will be married to many virgins… I don’t know what’s in it for the women of that religion. This cult has been leading millions to hell since its foundation, and yet many in the Church want to endorse Mitt Romney as President because they say he is the lesser of the two evils.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again!!! Evil is EVIL!!! Don’t you hunger and thirst for righteousness??? Change has to begin in you and me before there can be a change in our country. He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8 NKJV)

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6 NKJV).

The Lord is telling us, just as He told the Solomon and the Israelites, “When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:13-14 NKJV).

Brothers and sisters, when you watch the news on TV, are you grieved in your spirit? When you see your family and your neighbors struggling to make ends meet, is your heart burdened? When you see a homeless person, or a drug addict, or a  prostitute, do you feel like weeping for them? Do you long for better days? Do you yearn to see people living holy and uprightly? Do you long to see the Church present herself spotless and without blemish to the Lord? If you do, then you are truly blessed… “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6 NKJV).

©  2012

Cheryl A. Showers

Words of Jesus – Blessed Are the Meek

“Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5 NKJV)

Blessed are the meek… I don’t know about you, but my whole life I was taught to stand up for myself… don’t let anyone take advantage of your good nature… don’t be a doormat… I was taught that meekness was weakness. And then I met Jesus, and He rocked my world. He took everything that I believed to be true and turned it upside down!

He told me to turn the other cheek… if someone forces me to walk a mile, He said to go 2 miles with them… If someone steals my shirt, give him my coat too! What kind of logic is this anyway? If I do those things, won’t I be a doormat? Won’t I be inviting people to take advantage of me? Why not just wear a “Kick Me” sign on my back?

But as I look at Jesus and the life He led, I see no weakness in His meekness. Do you know Him? He is the One who set His face like flint as He rode into Jerusalem, knowing that He would be painfully tortured and crucified by the very crowds who surrounded Him within a week. Does that seem weak to you? He was the One who rode straight to the Temple, to face the scribes, Pharisees and Sadducees who hated Him and plotted against Him, overturning the tables of the money changers and driving them out with a whip, knowing He was provoking the very ones who would judge Him later that week. Was that a sign of weakness? I don’t think so. And how about when He spoke to the multitudes, including the scribes and Pharisees, saying, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites… (Matthew 23:14 NKJV)” Does that sound like a weak and fearful man?

Yet this same Jesus is the One who said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 19:14 NKJV)”. He was the One who wept at Lazarus’ grave – then raised him from the dead! He was the One who could have called 12 legions of angels to deliver Him from the cross, but chose to endure the pain and the suffering for our sake! He was the One who stood bravely in the Garden of Gethsemane allowing Judas to kiss His cheek, knowing that His “friend,” whom He had loved was betraying Him. When Peter cut off the right ear of Malchus, the high priest’s slave, this same Jesus calmly picked the ear back up and replaced it, healing Malchus. And when the soldiers and guards stated they were there to arrest Jesus of Nazareth, He was the One who spoke, “I AM He,” whereby all of them drew back and fell to the ground, but still He allowed them to take Him, beat Him, mock Him and crucify Him.

It was in studying the life of my Lord and Savior that I came to the conclusion that meekness is not weakness! Rather, meekness is controlled strength.

Lord, please teach me to be meek, just as You were meek. “Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5 NKJV)

© 2012

Cheryl A. Showers

Words of Jesus – Blessed Are the Poor in Spirit

 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3 NKJV)  Hallelujah! I love the words of Jesus! Have you ever noticed that He doesn’t think like the rest of the world? 🙂 I guess that would be because He is God. I can just hear Him “My thoughts are completely different from yours,” says the LORD. “And My ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts higher than your thoughts. The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. It is the same with My word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it” (Isaiah 55:8-12 NLT).

Do you see? He doesn’t think like we do, so if we’re to grow in our relationship with Him, we have to change our way of thinking. Being poor in spirit doesn’t come naturally to people, and I think it surely doesn’t come naturally to Americans. We’re taught from birth that we can be and do anything if we work hard enough at it, and if we want it bad enough… We’re taught from childhood that we must strive for the American dream, that in order to be a success in life, you have to work hard, make and save lots of money, have a nice home and leave an inheritance for our children.

We’re taught to rely on ourselves and walk with our heads held high. We’re taught to be proud of our achievements… and then along comes this Word from Jesus… “Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” 

Wow! What does that mean anyway? I know what a poor person is – someone who lacks. So if I’m poor in spirit, that means I lack something… And if I’m lacking something, I can’t be proud, can I? So what am I lacking? The truth is that I lack a whole lot. You see, apart from Christ, I lack love. Oh, I used to think that I loved, but it wasn’t until I came to Jesus that I really learned what love is. You see, God is love, and His love is not what the world calls “love.”

Most people will “love” you as long as you don’t disappoint them, but there’s a limit to everyone’s “love” apart from Christ. God, on the other hand loved me while I went my own way, thumbing my nose at Him. He loved me even though I rejected Jesus. Man, He even loved Adolph Hitler! His ways are not our ways.

And one final thought about love… His word tells those of us that love Him, that the only reason we love Him is because He loved us first!!! So, one of the things I lack without God is love, and without love, my spirit is very impoverished.

Another thing I lack is the ability to obey His commands. Apart from God the Father, Jesus the Son, and Holy Spirit, it is impossible for me to obey God’s commands. Now, I could say that I obey some of the commands, but scripture says… 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).

Do you see? Apart from Christ, our spirits are empty. But there’s more to this than that… How many times have we read or heard about celebrities living in lavish mansions, wearing expensive designer clothes and jewels, with numerous luxury cars and partying all the time, only to learn later that they were bankrupt. You see, they thought they had it all, and we thought they had it all, but they were living a lie. The same is true of everyone who lives without Christ in their lives. I can’t tell you how many times someone has said to me, “Well, that’s nice if Jesus works for you, but it’s not for me.” Isn’t that so sad? They are just as destitute as I am, but they think and live as though they have it all. They miss their blessing because they refuse to see themselves as lacking… “Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

And then there are those who have it all… family and friends, money, wealth, careers and they place such great value in those things that they fail to see how poverty-stricken their spirit is. I think of the poor rich man in Matthew 19 who asked Jesus what he needed to do to have eternal life, and he said that he had obeyed all of the commands, but when Jesus told him to sell everything and follow Him, the man just couldn’t give those things up. Those things were just too important to him, more important than the One who could give him eternal life. He had filled his spirit up with other things and he couldn’t see that he wasn’t as wealthy as he thought. His spirit was barren.

Finally, let’s look at Jesus. His life amazes me. The King of glory… the King of kings and Lord of lords… the Alpha and the Omega… The Ancient of Days left His throne in heaven to come to earth as a Man. He didn’t come as a rich man or a king – He came as a poor peasant. He didn’t come filled with pride. He didn’t come to be served. He came to serve.

He came in perfect obedience to His Father. He was humble and meek. He knew that we weren’t smart enough to recognize how completely drained our spirits are, so He showed us by the life He lived. And in case we still weren’t smart enough to recognize it, He explained to us, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

How awesome is that? Talk about turning things upside down! Many of the scribes and Pharisees and Saducees, the priests and the high priest, who thought they had it all and made life so hard on the people would not inherit the kingdom of heaven. Rather, those who recognized that they couldn’t do anything apart from the Lord, who cried out for Him to help them and save them, would inherit the kingdom. Ha! Praise God! Even those of us who are Gentiles get to inherit the kingdom of heaven when we recognize that we are poor in spirit.

Hallelujah! His ways are definitely not our ways! “Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” That’s me and I pray in Jesus’ name that it’s you too!

© 2012

Cheryl A. Showers

Words of Jesus – More Thoughts On, “Come after Me, and I will make you fishers for men!”

Yeshua said to them, “Come after Me, and I will make you fishers for men!” (Matthew 4:19 CJB)

As I was getting ready to write on more of the words of Jesus, the Lord began speaking to my heart about what is involved in being fishers for men, and I realized that yesterday’s word was only a part of fishing for men. It’s not enough for us to share the good news with people – to catch the fish so to speak. You see, a fisherman’s work is not finished once he catches the fish. That’s only the beginning of the work.

The next thing a fisherman must do is scale the fish, and that’s a nasty job. You see, you have to grasp that slippery, slimy fish that you’ve caught and begin scraping against its grain with a knife to remove those scales. In the same way, a fisher for men must hold the person that has been won over by the Lord, and begin speaking the truth of the Word to that person, who may have scales over his/her eyes, thus blinding them to the truth about themselves and about the Lord. Warning! This is a painful task for both the person who has the scales and the one who is holding him/her up. There is always the danger of being cut. That’s why we must be very careful to let Holy Spirit do the scraping, while we hold that person up – praying and speaking only those words the Spirit gives us to speak, nothing more, nothing less.

The next thing a fisherman must do is gut the fish. Warning! This is a nasty, stinking but necessary task. Again, this is a surgical procedure that we allow Holy Spirit to perform, while we continue to hold the person up, speaking life and praying fervently for him/her. As painful as it was to have the scales removed from the person’s life, this is the most painful and crucial part of being a fisher for men. You see, there may be all sorts of lies that this person has absorbed in his/her life, not to mention the toxins that he/she may have ingested. And what about all of the things hidden in the depths of his/her being that must be gutted out?

Brothers and sisters, if we are to be fishers of men, we must be willing to complete the job, from start to finish. We must never leave the job partially done or the person’s new found faith may wither and die. We must continue to pray for that person, even though that person may try to slip away from Holy Spirit’s surgical procedure. We must continue to encourage that person while they are going through the very same procedure that each one of us went through, exhorting them and sharing the hope that is within each one of us, letting them know that in the end, they will be clean and new, as all of the odors and toxins are cleansed away, because one day, they too will become fishers for men.

May the Lord richly bless you today as you go fishing!

© 2012

Cheryl A. Showers

Words of Jesus – You Shall Worship the Lord Your God…

Image… “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.'”

In His fourth statement in Matthew, Jesus stands up in all His authority and commands the enemy to go! “Away with you, Satan!” In asserting His authority, Jesus also establishes the order of His ministry. This is the great command that Jesus’ ministry was built on, that His life was built on… that our lives must be built on. “You must worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.”

What is worship? Worship is not music. In old English, the word we now know as worship was originally “worthship”, and as that name implies, it was used to recognize someone’s worthiness in receiving honor. Therefore, when we worship the Lord our God, we are acknowledging that He alone is worthy of honor.

The Hebrew word used most often for worship is shachah, pronounced shaw-khaw’, which means to bow down, crouch, fall down (flat), humbly beseech, do obeisance, do reverence… Do you know the first time the word is used in the bible? The first time worship is mentioned in the bible is in Genesis 22:5, when Abraham was preparing to go and offer his son, Isaac, as a sacrifice to the Lord. And Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you” (Genesis 22:5 NKJV). This first reference to worship shows us that true worship is not just in singing. It involves great faith in the God who causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28 NKJV), and a willingness to offer as a sacrifice to Him that which is most important to us.

The Greek word for worship is proskuneo, pronounced pros-koo-neh’-o, which means to fawn or crouch to, to prostrate oneself in homage, to kiss the hand (like a dog licking his master’s hand). The first time this word is used in the New Testament is in Matthew 2, when the wisemen worshiped Jesus. Do you see? These obviously wealthy wisemen prostrated themselves before the King of kings, though he was only a child, and then, around 30 years later, Satan visited the very same King Jesus, and commanded Him to prostrate Himself and kiss his hand!

Do you see the irreverence of it? The created being was telling his CREATOR to bow down and pay homage to him! Enough was enough! And the Son of God, the Alpha and the Omega rose up in all of His authority and commanded, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.'”

Brothers and sisters, who or what do you worship? That which is created – the sun, the  moon, the stars, our families and friends, or our toys? Or do you worship Jesus, the One who created it all? Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before God made anything at all and is supreme over all creation. Christ is the One through whom God created everything in heaven and earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see — kings, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities. Everything has been created through Him and for Him. He existed before everything else began, and He holds all creation together (Colossians 1:15-17 NLT).

… “You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve” (Matthew 4:10 NKJV).

© 2012

Cheryl A. Showers

Words of Jesus – You Shall Not Tempt the Lord Your God

… “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God'” (Matthew 4:7)

Jesus’ response to the enemy makes it clear that we are not to live recklessly, tempting God with our disobedience. We must not put His grace or His mercy to the test just because He’s given us freedom. Why is it that so many people feel like it’s okay to live as we please, as long as we say our prayers at night and go to church? If Jesus, the only begotten Son of God would not test His Father, what makes us think that we can test Him?

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. 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. Anyone who refused to obey the law of Moses was put to death without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 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. 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.” It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:26-31 NLT).

My friends, we must examine our hearts, confess our sins and repent. I know many people have said that God is married to the backslider, but Scripture says: For it is impossible to restore to repentance those who were once enlightened — those who have experienced the good things of heaven and shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the power of the age to come — and who then turn away from God. It is impossible to bring such people to repentance again because they are nailing the Son of God to the cross again by rejecting Him, holding Him up to public shame (Hebrews 6:4-6 NLT).

Hear the word of the Lord people – “You shall not tempt the Lord your God.”

© 2012

Cheryl A. Showers

Words of Jesus – Man Shall Not Live By Bread Alone…

… “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God'” (Matthew 4:4 NKJV)

Jesus knew the Word of God, and He knew how to overcome temptation. He spoke the Word to the enemy… the WORD spoke the Word, thus making it very clear to all exactly how important the Word of God is. We need the Word of God to sustain our very lives, just as much as we need food in order to live.

Without the Word of God, we will surely die of starvation. Without His word, we will wander aimlessly… “The time is surely coming,” says the Sovereign LORD, “when I will send a famine on the land — not a famine of bread or water but of hearing the words of the LORD. People will stagger everywhere from sea to sea, searching for the word of the LORD, running here and going there, but they will not find it. Beautiful girls and fine young men will grow faint and weary, thirsting for the LORD’s word…” (Amos 8:11-13 NLT)

Hear the Word of the Lord people and live… Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”

© 2012

Cheryl A. Showers

Words of Jesus – Fulfilling All Righteousness

As I was reading the Word Sunday, the Lord put it on my heart to study the words of Jesus. I’ve thought of doing it before, but that was the day I began my study. The first words Jesus spoke in the first gospel, Matthew, were, “Permit it to be so for now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:18 NKJV)

Jesus’ words are important – every single one of them and it’s important for us to know what He said and to live by those words. His first act in starting His ministry was to be baptized by John. He did this in order to fulfill all righteousness. I believe He demonstrated this as an example for all of His followers.

You see, just as it was necessary for Jesus to be baptized and to fulfill all righteousness, so it is necessary for us to do the same. He fulfilled ALL righteousness. He left nothing undone, and as His followers, we are to do the same.
Lord, help me to fulfill all righteousness and to leave nothing undone. Give me the wisdom and the strength to follow Your example, in Jesus’ name. Amen

© 2012

Cheryl A. Showers