DAILY DEVOTIONAL by Katie Messer: “Through The Valley of Achor” Week One COMPLETE

DAILY DEVOTIONAL by Katie Messer: “Through The Valley of Achor” Week One COMPLETE

 

Through The Valley of Achor

 

Prayers for a change in direction drive us to our knees as the calendar ticks down to the unwanted day of departure. Blessings Through The Valley of Achor will remind you that heartache and cries for mercy are woven into the tapestry of all believers. Whether military or millionaire, ditch digger or diplomat, married or single—each life reaches a point where we all fall to our knees and cry out to God. Each day we will meditate on a passage to help us bloom in seasons of great transition and perceived gloom. This book is a devotional for the days that hurt and an encouragement that with God you will make it through (Jeremiah 29:11-13).

 

 

 

 

 

INTRO

 

OUR STORY THROUGH THE VALLEY OF ACHOR (Hosea 2:14-16)

 

After six years of marriage, two precious children and a steady expectancy of the unexpected in our “soldier-diplomat” lifestyle, I had grown a bit comfortable as to what life would look like for us. I was now united to my best friend in marriage. God had worked miracles to ensure our union (read Mirrors to Windows: Change your view to see God’s true romance to see the full account unfold). Phil and I had traveled much of North Africa, the Middle East and parts of Europe together during our first year of marriage for his profession. God had then honored our prayers for children. God even allowed my husband to be brought back from war in order to be present for our son’s birth—nearly unheard of within the military community. After the birth of our son, we were able to spend time with Phil’s parents before his mama went home to be with Jesus. We had so much to be grateful for. Although we moved every twelve to twenty-four months, I knew that Phil would always be with me to see our family through. He was a man of God and a man of sincere prayer. God had really blessed my children and me. Then, we stepped into a new terrain within our marriage and family. We experienced, more fully, what the Valley of Achor (meaning trouble) really was.

 

With four years in the Middle East and three years previous bouncing across the U.S. and the Arab World as a whole, our roots never sank too deep into any one place. In terms of the heart, since the age of six, my roots and strong standing were in Jesus Christ, my Lord and personal Savior. How blessed I was to have married a man, who also from a very young age, had submitted to Christ. My husband shared my same heart for global adventure and reaching those in need of the eternal security that Jesus Christ brings to the soul.

 

For our six years of marriage and the year prior during our courtship, Phil had always been the cool-headed one in our relationship; the logical, the planner. Well, in short, this is not the type of person he married! If there was something to fret about, more times than not, I was first in line to fill the role. If there was something to rejoice about, more times that not, I was the one waving the biggest pom-pom. And in the midst of it all, we knew that the Lord would see us through all the silliness and sorrow in between.

 

Although I saw military family after military family deeply challenged by the separation that comes with deployment, I was certain that the Lord would not allow me and my family to walk through the hellish experience of being a “married-single parent” as so many do while their loved one is deployed for a year or longer. When we got the news of Phil’s next U.S. Embassy assignment—coupled with the fact that we could not accompany due to safety concerns—I felt as though a horrible joke had just been played on me. In many ways, it was as though I was flashed back to the heartbreaks from my own past. As a young girl, I had always told myself that my family was safe from destruction—but had been proven wrong as divorce gripped the family of my youth. Yet, God provided in the midst of that heartache and used it for His ultimate glory.

 

Fast forward to the present, I was now married to the man I loved, the mama of two precious toddlers whom we loved and completely reeling all over again as I faced a new earthquake within my family. The very man God had led me to marry was now being ripped away from our children and me for an extended time due to his professional dealings with foreign governments. I silently asked the Lord in earnest, “Haven’t I gone through enough?!” [Perhaps, you too can relate to similar internal questions as the earthquakes within your own story disrupt your perceptions of security and what it means to be “safe”.] I could not bring myself to be angry with God—I just could not. I knew, even at that moment—as was true during my youth—that God is good (Nahum 1:7). So, my anger, rage and feelings of betrayal were then directed towards the very one I love most on this earth; my husband.

 

Ladies, allow me to assure you, the devil hates marriage. The Bible often references a marriage to most closely reflect the relationship of Jesus Christ and His body of believers, called the Church or the Bride of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12, 1 Corinthians 12:27, Ephesians 5:25-27 & Revelation 19:7). Thus, Christian marriages are often attacked as a way of sidelining those looked up to by singles—be they believers in Jesus Christ or not. May we pray for our marriages both while residing under the same roof as well as for periods when we are separated geographically by zip codes and even distant time zones. Take stock in this truth Ladies, the God of perfect love is bigger than our suffering and aching hearts (Romans 8:38-39)! I can testify that this has been the case for us and it now can be the case for you, too.

 

This study is unique in the fact that it has been written in response to the nudging the Lord has put upon my own heart—to counsel my own heart for not only the year apart from the man I love most in the world—but then the return of our family to the Middle East in response to the Lord’s leading. I would love to say that my children were spared of the stress, the chaos and the heartache that has been associated with this traumatic season of saying good-bye, hello and good-bye again to Daddy for an extended time and later friends, but that simply has not been the truth. If you too, are a parent who has felt that you have “missed the mark” to represent Jesus Christ under the current pressure you are living in, may I encourage you this very day. God is bigger than our problems, bigger than our blow-ups, and bigger than our deepest pain (2 Peter 1). Listen to me now, do not give up! You are not a quitter. You were made for so much more than this heartache and turmoil. Keep pressing into the Lord; you may not be able to see the end in sight yet, but rest assured, the best is yet to come!

 

Begin by confessing your shortcomings to the Lord (1 John 1:9-10) and ask for His help in walking through this Valley of Trouble with Him (Psalm 23). This will actually make you stronger and more stouthearted through the reading and meditation on the Word of God; the Holy Bible (Psalm 119:50) and daily bringing your requests and sincere heart before the Lord in prayer (Philippians 4:6).

 

The Word of God is where our hearts can be encouraged and redirected back to the Lord in times of chaos and great turmoil (Psalm 119:105, Proverbs 6:23 & 2 Peter 1:19). Hold fast to the biblical knowledge that with Jesus Christ, He will faithfully lead you out.

 

 

“The righteous man will flourish like the palm tree,

He will grow like a cedar in Lebanon.

 

Planted in the house of the Lord,

They will flourish in the courts of our God.

 

They will still yield fruit in old age;

They shall be full of sap and very green,

 

To declare that the Lord is upright;

He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.”

 

Psalm 92:12-15 (NASB)

 

To my LORD Jesus Christ, Who has been faithful to walk my precious family through each mountaintop and valley of this great adventure. May praise and hope in Jesus Christ alone be gleaned from these pages.

 

Christ is the answer

 

 

Theme of Week One: God Hears Me

 

Week One, Day One:

 

“The LORD is near the brokenhearted; He saves those crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18 (HCSB)

 

There are times in our lives when we cry out to God, with nothing left to say. Our hopes seem dashed. Our prayers appear unanswered. And, deep down, we may even fear that God simply could not fix the situation at this point anyway. On days like this, soak in the truth of God’s Word. The words of Psalm 34:18 beautifully reminds us, that not just today, but each day, the LORD is near and saves those who are crushed. What a comfort to recall that in such seasons of our lives, regardless of the duration, the LORD is near and indeed saves.

 

Prayer for the day:

Dear LORD, help (name)_____. You see the pain. You see the complexity of the situation. Thank you that Your Holy Bible is trustworthy and true. Please give (name)______ the assurance that this very day, You are providing comfort and presence in this incredibly difficult time. In Jesus’ name, amen.

 

 

 

Week One, Day Two:

 

“For the High and Exalted One who lives forever, whose name is Holy says this:” I live in a high and holy place, and with the oppressed and lowly of spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and revive the heart of the oppressed.” Isaiah 57:15 (HCSB)

 

Royalty dwells in palaces with elegance and lighthearted living. Yet, praise God that the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Jesus Christ, wanted to have fellowship with each of us. The Bible assures us that each life is so treasured to God that even while we were still involved in crazy living, Jesus paid our ransom (1 John 4:9). Rest in the reality today that your life is so precious to God that He stepped out of His royal living in order to revive each heart that becomes oppressed by sorrow, guilt and pain.

 

Prayer for today:

Dear Jesus, thank You for caring for each of our lives. Thank you for caring for (name) _________ life. Thank You that Your Word, the Holy Bible, assures us that we are never alone in our sorrows. It is You, the High and Exalted One who revives our hearts. Help (name) _______ to claim this truth for today. In Jesus’ name, amen.

 

 

 

Week One, Day Three:

“The God of old is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms. He drives out the enemy before you and commands, “Destroy!” Deuteronomy 33:27 (HCSB)

 

Have you ever just needed someone to back you up? When we belong to Jesus Christ, as we call upon His name, we are tapping into the eternal power of God. The same God that created the world (1 John 1:1), delivered the Israelites from the hands of Pharaoh (Exodus 14:29-31) and raised Jesus Christ from the dead (Matthew 28:5-7) is the same God you can call upon this very day. As we learn to find comfort and refuge underneath the powerful arms of Almighty God, we will see that it is God who will destroy our problems, in His perfect timing.

 

Prayer for today:

Dear Jesus, thank You for being all knowing and all powerful. Thank You for not only seeing the problems in (name) _______ life, but also destroying these problems, in Your perfect timing. Help me to claim this truth for today. You are trustworthy and Your timing is perfect. In Jesus’ name, amen.

 

 

 

Week One, Day Four:

 

“Be a rock of refuge for me, where I can always go. Give the command to save me, for You are my rock and fortress.” Psalm 71:3 (HCSB)

 

When the diagnosis is worse than expected, call on the LORD to be your rock. When the relationship appears forever shattered, call on the LORD to be your fortress. When you no longer feel in control of your life and wonder if there is a point to continue on, call on the name of the LORD to be your rock and fortress. Regardless of our situations, no matter how deep the pain, there is always hope in Jesus Christ. Take a deep breath today and hold fast to this prayer of Psalm 71:3. This verse is a plea for God’s help. Make it your own today—God is waiting for your permission to intervene in the story. In faith, put the name of the one in trouble on the rock of Jesus today.

 

***Have a picture of a rock sketch here.

 

Prayer for today:

Dear Jesus, please be the safe house of refuge for (name) ___________. Thank You that at Your word, rescue is realized within any situation. Help (name) ________ to grant You the permission to intervene into this situation today. Please be the rock for (name) ______ in a special way this day. Thank you, LORD. In Jesus’ name, amen.

 

 

 

Week One, Day Five:

 

2Let my prayer come before You; Incline Your ear to my cry! 3For my soul has had enough troubles, And my life has drawn near to Sheol.” Psalm 88:2-3 (NASB)

 

There are seasons in life that simply leave us numb. Yet, no matter how mad we get, no matter how many nasty words we speak, the outcome does not change. When we feel overwhelmed by helplessness and inadequacy, may we cry out to the LORD in an unvarnished way. The God of the Bible, Jesus Christ, has broad shoulders. Bring your pain—the situations that have numbed your heart—to the LORD today. He is ready to rescue you in the midst of it all (1 Peter 5:7).

 

Prayer for today:

Dear Jesus, help (name) ________ with feelings of being numb and overwhelmed. Thank You, Jesus, that we can come to You with honesty and know that You care about even the smallest details of our lives. Help this truth to be made clear to (name) ______ today. In Your name I pray, amen.

 

 

Week One, Day Six:

 

“I have called upon You, for You will answer me, O God; Incline Your ear to me, hear my speech.” Psalm 17:6 (NASB)

 

In sports, there is a moment when only the best of the best can save the play or win the game. The psalmist is making a similar plea. He acknowledges that God is the one who has always come through for him. May we take time today to speak this truth to the Lord from our own personal stories. Not only will it bless the Lord, but it will be a sincere encouragement to our own hearts as we recall the various ways God has saved the day in the past. If you are new to the faith, know that God is ready to do the same for you that He has been in the business of doing for all of humanity since inception—saving the day—with the perfect play.

 

Prayer for today:

Dear Jesus, thank You that I can approach You with my needs. Thank You that (name)_______ can approach You with needs as well. Please minister to (name)_______ heart today. Help (name)______ to lay the heavy burdens down because You really do care for (name)________. In Jesus’ name, amen.

 

 

Week One, Day Seven:
“O my God, incline Your ear and hear! Open Your eyes and see our desolations and the city which is called by Your name; for we are not presenting our supplications before You on account of any merits of our own, but on account of Your great compassion.” Daniel 9:18 (NASB)

 

This prayer in Daniel is one that echoes that all are helpless to restore what is needed—apart from the Lord’s help. With humility to God’s greatness and openly stated need, Daniel earnestly presented his requests to the Lord. In the midst of our own chaos, may we be a Christian people who are marked by this trait of running to God with both humility to God’s awesome power and acknowledgement that He indeed is more than able to come through in any situation.

 

 

Prayer for today:

Dear Lord, hope is found in You alone. Please minister to (name)_______ as the battle wages on today. Thank You that you see the destruction and will bring rescue to the situation, through Your great compassion, at Your perfect time. Help (name)_________ to cling to You in a new way today. In Jesus’ name, amen.

 

 

 

**Week One in review. Please write down the most meaningful verse from this past week below. As you do, please take the time to thank God for His Word. There is such a depth of strength that we are able to tap into by praying the Lord’s promises back to Him. He is faithful to sustain us in all our sorrows. Thank the Lord for His faithfulness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

** Optional Service Project (Acts 20:35): This week, find someone to bless with a small assortment of flowers simply because Jesus loves them. It could be a neighbor, co-worker, friend at church, etc. In doing this, pray for this individual to feel the love of God in a new way this week.

 

Remembering Our Purpose As Parents Amidst Quarantine and COVID-19

“7 But everything that was a gain to me, I have considered to be a loss because of Christ. More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them as dung, so that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own from the law, but one that is through faith in Christ[a]—the righteousness from God based on faith. 10 My goal is to know him and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings, being conformed to his death, 11 assuming that I will somehow reach the resurrection from among the dead.”

Philippians 3:7-11 (CSB)

 

As many parents scramble to find ways to entertain their children all day, amidst schools, restaurants and parks are closed—and even play dates are discouraged globally; may we, as Christians, breathe deep … in the peace that only Jesus can give.

 

“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NASB)

Rather than viewing this time of quarantine with great fear, during the spread of a virus without a known cure, may we thank God for this precious time with our children and families.

 

16Rejoice always; 17pray without ceasing; 18in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.

COVID-19 will be something our children will remember for the rest of their lives and share with their own children and their children’s children. And along with the memories of hand sanitizers, deep cleanings around the home to wipe out potential germs and daddy and mommy having unexpected time off of work—all while not being advised to leave the home, the children will remember how daddy and mommy reacted. Did we, as parents, react and function out of a heart of panic or a heart filled with praise and trust in the God who holds all things together?

 

16For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” Colossians 1:16-17 (NASB)

 

This pandemic is still globally on the move. And as parents, we can still allow our children to remember this time as one spent in family prayer, Bible crafts (ideas linked below) and a home atmosphere of trust in God rather than allowing our mood and outlook to be continually swayed by the latest newsfeed.

 

 

Mamas, may I appeal to you in absolute love—don’t miss out on this blessing of these next few weeks! Rather than following the trends of either allowing the children to self-govern their unexpected days at home, may we use this time to advance the Gospel of Jesus Christ at home! If you have never had a conversation about eternity with your children; what a beautiful and natural segue in the midst of a pandemic that is claiming the lives of those ranging from elderly to elementary. Life is uncertain, but the Good News of the Bible is that our hope is certain. In fact, because of the empty tomb of Jesus Christ on the third day, we have a Living Hope. 

 

3For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,” 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 (NASB)

 

Featured on Wonderfully Made Blog. Click link to view article.

 

On the Vine of God: Lessons From Tiny Seeds

2Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 3knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

      5But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. 7For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, 8being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” James 1:2-8 (NASB)

 

I don’t know if you are a gardener or not, but my husband is a born natural. He can grow anything in any climate; while I can hardly seem to keep a fake plant alive! Haha

 

This current growing season, he has grown sunflowers, tomatoes, corn and even dill (each over 4 feet tall)! But, above the mint, the peppers, the colorful zinnias and the California poppies, there has been one plant that has grabbed my attention most of all; the cucumber vine.

 

What starts as a tiny seed, soon sprouts into a lovely green aspiration of two green leaves. From there, with sunlight and water, the plant continues to grow. And with cucumbers, a trellis of some sort soon needs to be constructed for them to climb onto. At the stage of the seed and even the small aspiring sprout, the tall trellis looks ridiculously too high for such a tiny thing to ever grow into! Yet, a number of weeks after the initial planting, these vines have climbed all the way to the top and are about to climb OVER the trellis!

 

It reminds me of a small seed spoken of in the Bible; the tiny mustard seed (Matthew 17:20). Although small, it can grow into a bush as big as a small house! That’s amazing! And to think that it all started from an itty bitty seed. God is amazing and His creation points to the goodness of God to make a way where there seems to be no way.

 

John 15:5…Jesus says, “I am the vine, you are the branches…apart from Me, you can do nothing…”

 

If you feel as though you are just stuck…and simply not going anywhere in life–look to the vine of Jesus Christ. If you have accepted Jesus Christ and you honestly see how you have walked away from Him—confess your heart to Him and reconnect to the vine. If you do not know Jesus, may you have the sincere privilege of getting to know the God who LOVES YOU SO…right here and right now. Ladies, may we realize that our power doesn’t come from cleaning our closets, having the tightest tummies or even knowing the most Bible verses—nope. TRUE and ETERNAL power comes from the one and only living and eternal God. We have access to Him through His Son, Jesus Christ, and when we accept Him as our personal Lord and leader of our lives (believing that He died and rose from the grave on the third day)…you will be saved!

And it is at that point, that very moment that you call out to Jesus Christ to take your life and take over, that you are given the power source of life—the Holy Spirit of God. A person can go through all the motions, but POWER comes from the Holy Spirit of God—and you can access this eternal and personal power of God through coming to Jesus Christ this very night. Pray the following if you want to throw away all other attempts of securing power in this life—and confessing that nothing else has brought lasting joy…not people, not places, not things.

 

Prayer of Salvation and Rededication:

Dear Lord Jesus, I have screwed up—again and again. I want to have power that this world cannot supply. I want to have right standing before Almighty God. I do not have the power to purchase this, negotiate this, or even take it wrongfully. I simply must ask You for it. I confess that I am a sinner—I have screwed up and have hurt people…not forgiven people…taken revenge on people—and I am wrong for this. You are God and I am not. I have proved it over and over again in my life. I am tired of feeling POWERLESS against desires to need to always satisfy my own wants and continually feeling empty inside. I turn away from all other things I have tried to gain power, place and prestige in the eyes of God. I believe that You are who You say You are, Jesus—the One and only Son of the Living God. I believe that You lived a perfect life to ransom and redeem me from my captivity to my sin. I believe that You rose from the dead on the third day to offer eternal life to all who call upon Your name. And right now, as I read this, I am calling upon Your name. Save me from myself, Jesus. Please forgive me. I need You in every area of my life—for every second of my life. Please come into my soul, right now, and take over…guide me through the Holy Spirit in how to act, think and react to the situations and people in my life. Give me the power to do what would honor You in each situation. I want to live for You, Jesus. I’m all in. Thank You for coming into my soul and for power-washing me from all my sin. It’s in the name of MY SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST that I pray, amen.

 

Regardless of our endeavors today, may we keep this in mind as we remember that God is GROWING US through the lessons we learn each day (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) and even the challenges along the way (James 1:2-4)!

To All The Mamas and Papas Who DARE To Raise This Next Generation for Jesus Christ: This One Is For You

To the mamas and the papas who dare to raise this next generation as the Lord Jesus Christ commands us to, this one goes out to you.

In a time in history where the children of our own country are not valued, but rather mass celebration in government as well as neon pink display on the side of the World Trade Center at the declaration of legislation to allow the death of children seconds post-womb, may you be encouraged that you are a champion of life.

Late-term abortion is not a matter of a “woman’s choice”—to what–commit murder? It’s a matter of removing God so far out of the equation that we deny even the preservation of our own kind–humanity–and loose sight of the beautiful fact that each breathing human both inside and outside of the womb is fearfully and wonderfully made by God (Psalm 139:14).

” 14I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well.” Psalm 139:14 (NASB)

 

Christian parents, it’s time to get involved and teach our children what is right…and not wait for the media or even “scientists”–regardless of what letters may or may not be behind their names–to define when life begins…or more to the pointat what point a life has worth…Praise God that the Bible is very clear on this issue. ALL pagan religions of the time of Abraham practiced murder of their own children as sacrifices to their gods–and this is why when God asked Abraham to give up Isaac as a burnt offering (his only legitimate son), Abraham was thrown for a major loop. Yet, in obedience, Abraham intended to go through with the murder of his own son…but God stopped his hand and his son was spared (Genesis 22:1-19).

Why does that matter and why should you care? Well, simply put, God was testing Abraham…did he love God more than even the gift of legitimate lineage through his son Isaac…his actions and God’s later praise showed that Abraham chose correctly…fear God above the reproach of humanity (Matthew 10:26-33) and through the lineage of Abraham we meet another man, the God-Man, Jesus Christ by name, who would fulfill the covenant of Genesis 12:1-3.

26“Therefore do not fear them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 27“What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops. 28“Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. 29“Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.30“But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31“So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.

      32“Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. 33“But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.

Matthew 10:26-33 (NASB)

 

The Abrahamic Covenant we just spoke of:

” 1Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father’s house, to a land which I will show you;

 2And I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing; 
         

3And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”

Genesis 12:1-3 (NASB)

Abram (later known as Abraham) was promised a people (descendants), a land and that through his lineage would come one–The One–who would be a blessing to all people All people of all nations would be blessed through Abraham’s seed…through confessing our own screws up and believing that Jesus Christ is in fact the one and only Son of God and raised from the dead to redeem any and all who would put all their faith, trust and belief in Him (Romans 10:9-10).

 

If you have had an abortion—KNOW YOU ARE LOVED.

If you are considering an abortion–KNOW YOU ARE LOVED.

But, may you also remember, the one inside your womb–is ALSO LOVED by the God who made you both.

There is forgiveness of such acts…for God sees all rebellion against His holiness on an equal playing field—and the price of all types of sin is death, but the free offer of eternal life is through Jesus Christ the Risen Messiah (Romans 6:23).

“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)

Thus, if you are on the fence about making the choice to CHAMPION LIFE or chop up a baby human, may I encourage you in the strongest and warmest of ways, SIDE WITH GOD and CHAMPION LIFE. 

“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)

 

 

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!

Mass Shootings In America

“Therefore do not fear them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops. Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. “But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. “So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.”

Matthew 10: 26-31 (NASB)

 

In the wake of yet another mass shooting that has claimed the lives of various ages, America finds itself soul searching. The nation is left to wonder, what would drive someone to kill; again. And some have questioned as to the goodness and very essence of God, as a result of allowing such evil within a place of worship. Yet, as Christians, may our minds not be filled with confusion, but rather reassurance from the Word of God.

 

“Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory. “O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.”

1 Corinthians 15:50-58 (NASB)

 

Ladies, may we take an honest assessment of the world in which we live; the devil is very much on the move. He is influencing the hearts and minds of willing individuals to steal, kill and destroy property, values and even the very lives of others. Yet, this sinister plan to devastate humanity is nothing new for the devil. In fact, the devil has prodded willing individuals and groups to carry out his dastardly deeds against the plans of God. We see this first hand in the account of Adam and Eve within the book of Genesis chapter 3. God had specifically called one tree off limits for Adam and Eve, yet the devil was able to plant seeds of doubt and discontentment which gave way to rebellion and ultimate death (Genesis 3:1-24).

 

Jesus Christ put it this way, “”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)

 

Amidst yet another time of great grieving, and sincere loss, as a follower of Jesus Christ, may we not lose our eternal perspective of the sheer sovereignty of our Risen Lord Jesus Christ (John 16:33)! May we pray to the God over all to provide the essential comfort and healing for each and every individual affected by the loss of life (Psalm 34:18, Psalm 147:3 & Isaiah 57:15).

 

“The LORD is near to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

Psalm 34:18 (NASB)

 

May we claim the truths of the Holy Bible that nothing can pluck us out of the hand of Almighty God once we have entrusted our lives to Jesus Christ (John 3:16, John 17:6, John 17:12, John 18:8-9, Galatians 3:28-29, 1 John 1:9-10, 1 John 4:9-10) . The families who are grieving are indeed needing comfort from the Holy Spirit, but praise God Almighty that as believers in Jesus Christ, they do grieve without hope.

 

“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.”

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (NASB)

 

Contrary to the popular preaching of “prosperity gospel”—which twists passages from the Holy Bible to imply that a true follower of Jesus Christ should never endure hardship, health problems or suffering of any kind—simply stated, this is not taught anywhere in the Bible. In fact, within the Holy Bible, in the book of Hebrews 11:1-40 (also known as the “Hall of Faith”) heroes of the faith are listed long with the great difficulties they endured before achieving greatness for the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Yet, the final verses of chapter 11 also speak of the mistreatment for the same God.

 

35Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection; 36and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. 37They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated 38(men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.”

Hebrews 11:35-38 (NASB)

 

 

Ladies, may we see the full picture of those who follow Jesus Christ. We are given eternal security and peace with God Almighty through Jesus Christ; yes, this is ironclad truth. Thank you, Jesus! BUT this does not mean that we may not suffer extreme hardship within our lives that may include persecution, torture or even death. Why? Because this is a fallen world since humanity rebelled against God in the Garden of Eden. But praise God for our Risen Savior Jesus Christ who came to seek and save all who call upon His eternal name (Luke 19:10, John 3:17 & 1 Timothy 1:15).

 

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your care on Him, because He cares about you. Be serious! Be alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. Resist him and be firm in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are being experienced by your fellow believers throughout the world. Now the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will personally restore, establish, strengthen, and support you after you have suffered a little.”

1 Peter 5:6-10 (HCSB)

 

Suffering is not a topic that anyone enjoys, but within a fallen world with many forms of evil, as followers of Jesus Christ, may we RUN TO A WORLD THAT IS DYING with the secure hope of eternity through the perfect life, innocent death and victorious resurrection of Jesus Christ the reigning and eternal King. 

 

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;”

1 Peter 1:3-7 (NASB)

 

Ladies, if you find yourself reading this today and wondering, “then what the heck is the point?!” The point is that various trials on this earth are used like refining fire is used to purify and burn out impurities of both gold and silver (Psalm 66:10, Proverbs 17:3 & Daniel 12:10).

When we experience hard times or witness mass injustice, our souls cry out for justice. When we see heinous acts committed against innocent lives, we want to see someone pay for the violation. And on a much broader scale, this is exactly what Jesus Christ did when He came to earth for each and every breathing soul (Isaiah 53:5-6). Jesus was born of a virgin (Matthew 1:18, Luke 1:35), lived a perfect life as God in the flesh (2 Corinthians 5:21, Hebrews 4:15), and died a criminal’s death as an innocent man (1 John 3:5). Who did He die for? He died for me…and you…and the rest of humanity from every language, tribe and people group. Why? Because the Holy Bible states that each of us have fallen short of the perfect standard that is expected by a truly righteous and just God (Romans 3:23). And as a result of our rebellion to meeting the standard of God, justice needed to be paid. And that is exactly what Jesus fulfilled in His coming! Praise the Lord! He paid the price that not one of us could (1 Peter 1:18-19). And in return, gave us a reward that not one of us could earn (Luke, 23:42-43, Romans 8:34, Hebrews 7:23-27, 1 John 4:9-10).

If you have never accepted the Lord Jesus into your own heart, I encourage you to do so this very day. This world is only a blink of the eye in relation to eternity. Secure where you stand with Almighty God, now, I beg you. Receive the cleansing from all wrong doing and shameful acts that mar each of our hearts before receiving the washing of Jesus Christ of our souls.

 

“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)

 

You can pray with me now. If you mean these words before God, you can be assured that Jesus Christ has come into your heart.

 

Dear Jesus, I have made mistakes and missed the mark of perfection. I ask for You to forgive me and to come into my heart as the leader and Lord of my life forever. I believe that You are the Son of God. Thank you for taking my screw ups upon Yourself and taking the penalty for me. Thank You for then giving me eternal life for believing in You. Help me to honor You with how I live. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

 

If you have just prayed that prayer, please reach out to a local pastor or even this blog post so we can encourage you and celebrate with you! Praise the Lord for new life through Jesus Christ!

 

“He has not dealt with us as our sins deserve or repaid us according to our offenses. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His faithful love toward those who fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:10-12 (HCSB)

 

 

 

 

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)