DAILY DEVOTIONAL by Katie Messer: “Through The Valley Of Achor” Week Eleven, Day Six

DAILY DEVOTIONAL by Katie Messer: “Through The Valley Of Achor”

Week Eleven, Day Six

 

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.” 2 Corinthians 1: 3-5 (NIV)

 

The Apostle Paul wrote a second letter to the Christian church in Corinth. At the time, major issues within their congregation were still persisting. False teachers were leading and the Apostle Paul needed to set the record straight. No other relationship will satisfy the longings of the soul apart from Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit. May we pray for sure footing as we traverse in a land of broken promises, broken dreams and broken hearts. No other love will quench the thirst of the inner most being apart from the Lord Jesus. Simply put, we were never designed to find and experience lasting fulfillment apart from a divine connection with God Himself. Chaos is real and heartache is a hallmark of life; but radical redemption and overarching victory of the trials found in this world are the trademarks of Jesus Christ the risen Savior. Clarity comes through revelation of the Holy Spirit; may we pray continually to be in step with His leading for He alone is worthy of our praise (Ephesians 6:18).

 

Prayer For Today:

Dear God, thank You for each detailed provision for those I deeply care for throughout this journey. Thank You for the help, the friendships and the countless encouragements You have ordained during this time. Make my heart grateful amidst the difficulty. Break me of my discontent within this severe discomfort. Teach me to look to You Jesus to find comfort and also pass it forward to others in dyer need. Sever me from my love of this world. May the gods of my heart be burned before You-as was true for the Israelites once they had been delivered by Your hand from Egypt (Exodus 32:1-20). LORD, I repent of my arrogance. Teach me to use Your light to illuminate hearts. Allow me to drink of Your fresh water and refreshing presence amidst this continued heat of the journey (Psalm 23). Thank You for divine provisions in the middle of major unknowns and suspended answers. You are my true comfort and I cling to You; knowing that You are above it all, Lord. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

 

DAILY DEVOTIONAL by Katie Messer: “Through The Valley Of Achor” Week Ten, Day Three

DAILY DEVOTIONAL by Katie Messer: “Through The Valley Of Achor”

Week Ten, Day Three

 

“Even when I go through the darkest valley, I fear no danger, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff–they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” Psalm 23:4-5 (HCSB)

 

The victory is yours in Christ Jesus. Psalm 23, a psalm of David, is a beautiful reminder of our walk with the Lord Jesus. David acknowledges that not if, but rather when, he is to go through difficult circumstances, he will not fear because God is with him. Why would the presence of God be a comfort to David in the midst of a dark time? The writing continues by adding that he receives comfort in knowing that God is equip with both His rod and His staff. If one is not familiar with pastoral terminology, the powerful declaration of God’s protection in the midst of tragic seasons is lost on the reader. The rod is used for discipline and correction, whereas the staff is used for guidance and direction. How beautiful to note that our Shepherd, Jesus Christ, is equipped with these tools to lead us safely through the unknown lands of this world. How great is our God!

 

Prayer For Today:

Dear Jesus, please forgive me for trying to make it through this season of difficulty without You. Thank You for both your correction and direction provided by Your loving presence. Thank You, Jesus, for the way in which You have provided for my every single need in this time. Both spoken and unspoken, You are faithful. Help my lips to sing of Your praises. Help me to speak of the fulfilled prayers before speaking of continued needs. God, You are faithful. Help me to trust You fully with the one I love. I give (name)________ to you anew this very day (Philippians 4:6). In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

DAILY DEVOTIONAL by Katie Messer: “Through The Valley Of Achor” Week Eight, Day Six

DAILY DEVOTIONAL by Katie Messer: “Through The Valley Of Achor”

Week Eight, Day Six

 

“This is what the LORD says: Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool. What house could you possibly build for Me? And what place could be My home? My hand made all these things, and so they all came into being. This is the LORD’s declaration. I will look favorably on this kind of person: one who is humble, submissive in spirit, and trembles at My word.” Isaiah 66:1-2 (HCSB)

 

How truly awesome is the LORD. The very One who created both the heavens and the earth, the very One who taught the sun to rise and the caribou how to migrate, this very LORD looks favorably onto those with a humble and submissive spirit. The person who reverences the words and teachings within the Bible gains great favor with the LORD. In the middle of our hardships, in the midst of the agony, may we remember to stay submissive and humble to the leading and teaching of the LORD upon our lives. If we believe that Jesus Christ is LORD, we have already been secured the victory. The powerful, awe inspiring and breath-taking majesty of the Almighty God, looks favorably upon all whom humble themselves to His written word. There is eternal power in the words of the eternal “I Am”. When the temple guards came to arrest Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane, as Judas Iscariot betrayed Him, all present witnessed the sheer power of Jesus’ words. As the soldiers called out for Jesus of Nazareth, while they carried spear and sword, the very acknowledgement of Jesus that “I AM He” caused these burly soldiers to draw back and fall to the ground—stunned as to what had just happened (John 18:6). What a powerful testimony of the undeniable and victorious power of Jesus Christ. Do not go through today’s challenges without calling upon the supreme power of Jesus Christ—there is no hardship too great for the Almighty (Isaiah 6:1-8).

 

Prayer For Today:

Oh LORD, You are powerful. You alone are mighty. You are the only true definition and example of holy. Thank You for then rescuing and redeeming my life as only a perfect God could (Hebrews 7:24-26). Thank You that through Jesus’ atoning work on the cross of Golgotha, I may enter into Your royal throne room by Your all sufficient grace towards the shameful and sinful things I have done (Ephesians 3:12).

 

DAILY DEVOTIONAL by Katie Messer: “Through The Valley Of Achor” Week Five, Day Four

Week Five, Day Four:

 

The merciful are blessed, for they will be shown mercy.” Matthew 5:7 (HCSB)

In seasons of grief and deep despair, it is easy to become critical and vindictive. As a result, we add additional weight to our already grieving hearts by carrying a record for another’s debt. The Lord Jesus Christ implores us to be a merciful people. By extending mercy to others, the Lord assures us that we too will be shown mercy—by God (Matthew 6:14-15). Remember, mercy is not something that is earned. Rather, it is something that another could never earn—and is given anyway. This is exactly like the redemption each of us, as Christians, have received from our own hurtful and stained pasts by the perfect life, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ (John 14:6 & 1 Peter 2:24). This very day, as the Lord brings faces or names to your mind, may you extend mercy to these individuals in the presence of the Living God through pray—and experience the freedom that is found in extending mercy to the undeserving (Luke 6:38). Praise God that He saw fit to do this very thing for each and every one of us.

 

Prayer for today:

Dear Lord, there are so many emotions whirling around in my head. There are so many situations that I want to “fix”. There are so many things that have gone wrong. I feel justified in my anger and resentment. I feel challenged today to let this go. I acknowledge how badly I was hurt by (name)__________, but I forgive (name)___________. I believe that You are bigger than any pain that (name)__________ has caused and will bring healing. Help (name)________ to also experience the freedom of forgiveness and mercy that is found in You, Jesus. In Your name I pray, amen.

Preparing for Victory Day

I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.” John 16:33 (HCSB)

 

Once at the Place of the Skull, large nails were then driven into Jesus’ hands and feet. This was the most brutal and barbaric killing instrument of that day. And it was reserved for only the worst of criminals. Yet, here was Jesus the Christ, proven to be innocent by even Pilate and Herod, and he was experiencing a criminal’s death. It could not have even been carried out upon a Roman citizen. Thus Jesus, as an innocent substitute for each and every one of the human race, bore the brutal punishment of death upon a cross (Romans 8:28). To speed up the process, at the urging of the Jews, the Roman soldiers were instructed by Pilate to break the legs of those upon the cross to cause the arms to stretch higher above the head, ushering the arrival of death quicker—seeing as the following day was the Sabbath (John 19:31-32). Yet, this was not done to the Lord Jesus Christ as He was not a victim of His circumstances, but rather He had willfully determined to go through with the brutal death of humanity in order to ransom His creations (Isaiah 53:9-11, Romans 5:18, Philippians 2:8 & 1 Peter 2:24).

 

“This is why the Father loves Me, because I am laying down My life so I may take it up again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down on My own. I have the right to lay it down, and I have the right to take it up again. I have received this command from My Father.” John 10:17-18 (HCSB)

 

While enduring the cross and continued atmosphere of satanic celebration, the soldiers divided Jesus’ clothing by casting lots (Psalm 22:18 & Matthew 5:44). Jesus had publicly cried out to His Father in heaven to “forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). He had also assured the repentant thief on the cross next to Him that “today you will be with Me in paradise” (Luke 23:42-43). When all had been accomplished to fulfill the prophesies of the Old Testament of the Lord Jesus, He cried out in a loud voice “It is finished!” and gave up His spirit (John 19:30).

 

The crowd gathered below was a mixture of demonic taunting and agonizing screams of horror and pain. When it came time to break the legs of Jesus, there was no need–He had in fact already died (John 19:33). This fulfilled the prophesy of the Psalms and the prophets (Exodus 12:46, Numbers 9:12 & Psalm 34:20). The rocks split and the veil within the Holy of Holies of the Temple split from top to bottom as a result of Jesus giving up His spirit (Matthew 27:51). The punishment for the depravity of all humanity had in fact been paid in full (Matthew 27:45-53, Mark 15:33-38, John 3:16, Galatians 3:13-14 & Titus 2:14).

 

“God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent His One and Only Son into the world so that we might live through Him. Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”  1 John 4:9-10 (HCSB)

 

Because you are loved by the God who made you, Hope took on flesh (John 3:16).

Because you hold eternal significance, Redemption bore our punishment (Isaiah 53:5).

Because you are worth it to the Creator of all things, the Lord Jesus Christ victoriously rose from the dead on the third day (Romans 10:9-10)—so that all who trust in Him will also one day rise again (Hebrews 9:27-28 & 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)!

 

Regardless of the struggles this life holds, as believers in Jesus Christ, we have the VICTORY through our Lord Jesus Christ (John 16:33).

 

Whatever you struggle with from day to day, know that our Lord can deliver you from your hardships just as He did with Mary Magdalene and countless others! Those closest to Jesus, His twelve disciples struggled with the same temptations that we face today in 2019: a love of money (Judas Iscariot), doubt (Thomas), disbelief (Philip) and among other things, an inability to stick it out in hard times (all of the twelve). So, why would Jesus choose people who would show off such poor aspects of our human nature? Simply put, because we can all relate to times of failure…and a need for a Savior.

 

And, praise God, He loved them to the end (John 13:1). God is glorified in our weakness; for when we are weak, He is strong (2 Corinthians 12:9-11)! In closing, no matter the mountain ranges, no matter the unspeakable odds, no matter the loneliness, realize that you are not sealed into your grief—your worry—your pain.

 

Why? Because just as the stone was rolled away to reveal the EMPTY TOMB of our eternally victorious Savior, Jesus Christ, we too will be delivered out of our deepest places of despair and utter need. Ladies, may we be filled with praise that rises far above our circumstances to declare that there is indeed VICTORY in the name of Jesus Christ alone (Psalm 121).

 

1I will lift up my eyes to the mountains;
            From where shall my help come?

      2My help comes from the LORD,
            Who made heaven and earth.

      3He will not allow your foot to slip;
            He who keeps you will not slumber.

      4Behold, He who keeps Israel
            Will neither slumber nor sleep.

      5The LORD is your keeper;
            The LORD is your shade on your right hand.

      6The sun will not smite you by day,
            Nor the moon by night.

      7The LORD will protect you from all evil;
            He will keep your soul.

      8The LORD will guard your going out and your coming in
            From this time forth and forever.”

Psalm 121:1-8 (NASB)

VLOG: Christian Apologetics in light of Islam (part 3 of 5)

The Holy Spirit has laid it upon my heart to share of conversations over the past near decade with dear friends from the Islamic faith regarding Christian doctrine. In this five part series, we will explore why Jesus had to die, if there is really only one God, which apostles should we follow, what the Christian church believes regarding other creeds and how does one decide what is right and what is ultimately wrong. May the Lord Jesus Christ be glorified and draw hearts to Himself for He alone is worthy.

 

The 3:16 Challenge

“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NASB)

 

What do all these people have in common: An AIDS orphan in Ndola, Zambia, a prostitute between clients in the Soy Cowboy district of Bangkok, Thailand, an abaya wearing divorcee raising a child by herself, a quiet art student in Chung Ching, China and a high schooler from Tampa, Florida?

 

Any guesses?

 

What about these people: A homosexual woman raising a child with her lesbian lover, a man who is the quarterback on his college football team, an illegal immigrant in hiding, a convicted murderer of a school shooting and a regular church attender?

 

Answer: Each and every person listed above needs to hear about the one and only Son of God, Jesus Christ.

 

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16 (NASB)

 

And until these people hear of Jesus Christ, how will they be able to accept Him – if they do not know Him?

 

“11 Now the Scripture says, everyone who believes on Him will not be put to shame, 12 for there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, since the same Lord of all is rich to all who call on Him. 13 For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

 

14 But how can they call on Him they have not believed in? And how can they believe without hearing about Him? And how can they hear without a preacher? 15 And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: How beautiful are the feet of those who announce the gospel of good things! 16 But all did not obey the gospel. For Isaiah says, Lord, who has believed our message? 17 So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the message about Christ.” Romans 10:11-17 (NASB)

 

We may look back at these lists and think, “Well, I can see how that person would be loved by God, but that one…that one doesn’t deserve God’s love and forgiveness! It just wouldn’t be right!” If we find ourselves struggling to come to grips with the reality that all people are invited to come seek forgiveness through the completed work of Jesus Christ, it’s time to have a serious soul check before God Almighty.

 

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23 (HCSB)

 

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23 (NASB)

 

Ladies, let’s get honest here—the grace and eternal favor of God cannot be earned, manipulated, stolen, accumulated or statistically generated. It is not a matter of how “good” we may look to others or how detestable someone else’s life may look compared to our own; it all comes down to the rebellious nature of the heart (1 Samuel 16:7).

 

“Boast no more so very proudly, Do not let arrogance come out of your mouth; For the LORD is a God of knowledge, And with Him actions are weighed.” 1 Samuel 2:3 (NASB)

  

“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. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” Ephesians 2:8-10 (NASB)

 

 

When modern day slavery is at an all time high, when suicide rates of young ones has become a global epidemic, when the lost, broken and hurting feel that there is no way out of their lives of pain—MAY WE BE CROSS-EYED—and turn them to the cross of Jesus Christ. May we share with unabashed joy the hope, healing and new life offered to all who truly come and fall at the feet of Jesus Christ; who died upon a cross for all so that we may eternally live through accepting Him as the Lord of our lives (Acts 16:31)! 

 

I challenge each and everyone reading this article today, to take the 3:16 Challenge. What is it? You may be asking. Whenever the clock says 3:16, morning or evening, pray for the lost and hurting to come to a personal knowledge of Jesus Christ. And not just pray for them, but ask God for the opportunities to reach these lost people. Because, ladies, it doesn’t matter how “good” life on earth may look for a given person, if they do not know Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior, hell and eternal punishment for the rebellion of each soul awaits (John 3:18). And you know what? God loves each one of us enough to offer freedom out of this place of eternal separation from God—through personal acceptance of the love and forgiveness of the Lord Jesus Christ for our own lives (1 John 4:9-10).

 

You see, when Jesus Christ died upon the cross of Calvary between two criminals, He cried out, “Father, please forgive them for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). And when Jesus Christ rose from the dead, just as He said He would (John 10:18) on the third day from being in the tomb (Matthew 28:6), the punishment for all rebellion of humanity against a righteous and holy God was satisfied (Isaiah 53:5). Therefore, we now know the name by which we can be saved from hell—Jesus Christ, the one and only Son of God (Acts 4:12).

 

Check the time…is it 3:16? Let us pray with passion to the God who passionately loves all people from all backgrounds, all nations, all cultures and all twisted living. We do not earn the love of God–it is freely offered to all–now may we freely love those enough around us to share of God’s glorious plan of redemption, hope and healing for each complex situation and failed attempt at life….Jesus Christ proved that each and every heart was eternally valuable to Him through His death for our failings while He Himself was innocent of all sin (2 Corinthians 5:21). And now, it is our responsibility as the Church of Jesus Christ to pick up His passion for those He came to save–ALL (2 Corinthians 5:18-21).

 

Dear Lord Jesus, please ignite Your Church to boldly proclaim Your name and Your message of hope, restoration and ultimate healing through You! May hearts be stirred, feet be moved and mouths be opened to share of this glorious news that You loved Your own creation so much that You gave Your own live to ransom us from the grip of condemnation and redeemed us to enjoy peace, purpose and eternal life with You! Give us Your eyes for those around our world and our cities who are in such desperate need of Your gospel of unconditional love for all people—for we all so desperately need Your forgiveness. Thank You for offering it so freely, without finding fault, for all who call upon Your name. You are the King of kings and the Lord of lords! We lift up Your name high, Jesus, and ask for Your will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen!

Artificial Flowers: The Acceptance of Other

“I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” 

   2 Timothy 4:1-5 (NASB)

 

In recent days, it has become clear to me that many of those who claim Jesus Christ as their Savior, do not like to hear much about the reasons for which He came. For example, the topic of sin is uncomfortable, for it cannot be covered in name brand apparel or given a prescription drug to forever numb the pain. Another such topic of discomfort is that of hell. The point that really strikes me is that these topics should indeed cause discomfort. These realities should indeed cause each soul to pause and ask God Almighty where we stand regarding sin and hell. You see, to act as if one has never sinned—is to lie to oneself—and forgo the offer of eternal life.

 

“If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

1 John 1:8-9 (NASB)

 

One must see their own depravity and their own shortcomings in order to more fully realize the sheer weight and gravity of the offense of our rebellion against the One and only Holy God of all things. The Bible assures us that we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. This is why we must understand that because of God’s amazing grace and unabashed love for His creation, humanity, He sent His One and only Son, Jesus Christ to rescue us from a course bound for destruction that was never intended for us.

 

“But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”

Romans 3:21-26 (NASB)

 

The Bible clearly teaches, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). And as the pages unfold and the vast beauty of God’s detailed and complex creation is brought to life, we are first introduced to Adam and Eve within the perfect land called Eden (Genesis 2:7-10, Genesis 2:21-25). God had perfect fellowship with them and would daily walk in the garden with them, but as rebellion entered this perfect place, through the free will of Adam and Eve, guilt and shame also entered (Genesis 3). Only perfection could be in the presence of Almighty God. Thus, as Adam and Eve were banished from the garden, the epic and celestial rescue operation, of God sending His own Son Jesus Christ (John 3:16) to atone for the screw ups and rebellion of each and every human heart (Isaiah 53:5), was set into motion.

 

Hell was never intended for humanity, but rather for the devil and his minions (Matthew 25:41). Thus, we must be burdened, as believers in the Risen Lord Jesus Christ, to tell others to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved from a place that was never intended for them (Acts 16:31). Jesus clearly spoke of the reality of hell and the excruciating torment of hell for all who do not believe (Luke 16:19-31, John 5:39-47). Ladies, remember that the devil and his minions are determined to destroy all joy here on earth and cause each heart to reject God’s offer of eternal life through the penalty paid in full, on our behalf, by Jesus Christ the Son of God.

 

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

John 10:10 (NASB)

 

Allow us to bring this point home: Ladies, rather than settling for an artificial flowers of carnal love or the inaccurate depiction of romance, may we repent from deception committed through smart phone screens and exploding text chains and return to the Lord who sees the value of each precious soul and poured out His own blood to rescue and redeem (1 John 4:9-10). Rather than believing that our culture or Hollywood knows best how to align our priorities and the allegiance of our souls, may we repent and return to the Lord for He promises plans filled with hope and a future for all who trust in Him (Jeremiah 29:11-13). Rather than settling for fashion that depicts the female body as a playground and shows the onlooker that the one wearing such articles only sees herself through the eyes of sex, may we repent and return to the Lord for He has so much better in store for you (Isaiah 61:10, Romans 13:14).

 

The time is now, Ladies. Let us not accept artificial lifestyles any longer. The King of Kings has called and created us for something much grander than simply updating an internet feed or chat chain; we have been called to righteousness as we advance the name of Jesus Christ and the power of His resurrection to all people (Genesis 1:26, John 4:24, Matthew 28:18-20). The time is now. Let’s go.

“For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift–not from works, so that no one can boast. For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.”

Ephesians 2:8-10 (HCSB)