Good Friday—His Life for Ours

Good Friday—His Life for Ours

Greater Love hath no man than this that a man lay down His life for his friends. John 15:13

Luke 23:44-46 Now it was the sixth hour (noon) and there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour (3 PM). Then the sun was darkened, and the veil of the Temple was torn in two. And when Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.” Having said this, He breathed His last breath.

Mark 15:34 And at the ninth hour (3PM) Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? Which is being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

I want us to reflect on the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross for each one of us. We will never know the immense pain He experienced not only physically but spiritually. On the hours that Jesus hung on the cross from 12 noon to 3 PM the whole earth was darkened, and so was the sun. God had forsaken His only Son when He bore all the sins of the world on His body. Jesus cries out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” The word forsake in the Merriam-Webster dictionary means to renounce or turn away from entirely. Holy God darkened the earth for 3 hours because He could not look upon Jesus when He bore our sins upon Himself. The Bible says that Jesus became sin for us, who knew no sin. I read a commentary that said God caused the darkness so humans could not look upon Jesus and see the turmoil and agony that He went through on our behalf. It was a sacred sacrifice that only the Father could see. This was His perfect Lamb of God who was sacrificed for the sins of the whole world.

At the same time the veil in the Temple, between the Holy of Holies, was torn from top to bottom. The very hand of God tore the veil, giving us access to God through Jesus His Son. Jesus was the new and living way for us to go to God, we no longer had to go through a Priest to make atonement for our sins. Jesus paid for our sins so we could have free access to the Father by Him. This gives us, you and me, access to God anytime day or night, that we need Him. That is so comforting to know.

Now think of all the sins you have ever committed, they are too numerous to count, yet all of them have been covered by Jesus’ shed blood on the cross, if you have received the gift of salvation through Jesus’ death on the cross for your sins. If you are born again, the Bible says you are a new creation in Christ, old things are passed away behold all things become new. (2nd Corinthians 5:17)

It is good Lord, to be reminded of the miraculous work you did in me when I became born-again. Thank you for forgiving all my sins, my rebellious actions, my drunkenness, drug usage, fornication, my abortion, my lying, stealing, my pride and my idol worship. All these I lay at your feet Jesus. I no longer have to carry these sins on my back. You have exchanged my sins for your righteousness. I am so grateful to you Lord, the day you had mercy on this broken woman and opened my eyes to see that what I was doing was not working and I needed you in my life. I surrendered my will and my life to you and confessed my sins and asked Jesus to be my Lord and Savior. It was the most beautiful day of my life, February 6, 1994. A day I will always cherish.

Questions:

What is the Holy Spirit bringing to your mind right now?

First, Are you born-again? Have you put your faith and trust in Jesus as your Lord and Savior? Have you asked Him to forgive all your sins?

Even after we are saved, we need to confess our sins daily to God. Is there anything the Lord is putting on your heart that you need to confess publicly?

What are you most grateful to God For?

I pray the Lord will bless you as you seek His wisdom and discernment in your life.

 

You are loved,
Toni

 

 

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How Has God Used Your Pain?

How Has God Used Your Pain?

(2 Corinthians 1:3-5)

When I came to Christ at the age of 34, I was suffering from severe depression, physical pain in my joints and fatigue. I sought answers from several doctors, but they could find nothing. My test results, CAT scans, MRIs and blood work all came back normal. I was perplexed. What is wrong with me? I now realize that my mental, emotional and health struggles were God’s way of getting my attention. Because of how poorly I felt, I couldn’t participate in my regular activities. It was during this time of suffering that God began drawing me to Himself.

How has God used suffering in your life to get your attention? In my case, God used my pain, weakness, fatigue and depression. God knows exactly how to reach all of us so that we turn to and focus on Him. God has always used my physical health issues to remind me to lean on Him. He uses suffering so that first, we will realize how much we need Him in our life and secondly, what kind of changes we need to make.

When I had the courage to trust God and finally wanted more than mere survival, God met me right where I was. God used my distress to bring me to Him. Even during my period of pain, God used me to help others. When I followed His lead by reaching out to those in need, I received even more healing for myself. In 2 Corinthians 1:3-5, God’s Word says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted of God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.” (ESV) God never wastes our suffering. It is all for a specific purpose. Some of you dear ones have suffered for a long time, and my heart goes out to you. It can seem very lonely at times, but God sees you. He loves you and has a purpose for your pain.

Christ suffered a horrific death on the cross for us. He also endured torture having been scourged, beaten, slapped, hit with rods and pierced in his skull with a crown of thorns. If anyone is acquainted with anguish and pain, it is Jesus. Come to Jesus just as you are, and He will give you comfort. Only He can carry you when you can’t take another step. He is the only one who will never leave you. He will not abuse you or take advantage of you. His love is pure, holy, just and life-affirming. His ways lead to true freedom and healing.

How has God used suffering in your life?

What is God showing you?

One day, beloved, we will be in glory in a place called Heaven where there is no more pain, sorrow or crying—a place where we will be embraced by the peace and love of Jesus.

You are loved,
Toni

 

 

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A Time for Prayer

A Time for Prayer

A Time for Prayer and Repentance

Today in church, my pastor preached about the Prophet Jeremiah and why God was punishing His people at that time. God had allowed Nebuchadnezzar to come to plunder and carry away the King of Judah, the King’s mighty men, 10,000 captives and all the craftsmen and smiths. None remained except for the poorest people of the land as described in 2 Kings 24:14. God punished them for their idolatry and for passing their children through the fire, which we understand to be child sacrifice. Many Jews at that time would sacrifice their children to Baal and Molech in order to receive favor from these false gods. In a similar way, we have followed in their footsteps by terminating the lives of our children. However, we have done so while our children were still in our wombs. As a nation, we have murdered over 60 million children. My heart breaks when I think of the multitude of families that are missing a child, a grandchild, a great grandchild, a brother and a sister. Entire generations of our families are missing. We have played “god” (little “g” god) by deciding whether our children live or die. So, I dedicate a special prayer today for each woman in this ministry and for our nation to repent of its sin of abortion in order to save future generations from death and destruction.

Forgive us, Lord, for putting ourselves on the throne of our hearts instead of You. Only you can give life and take life. Forgive us for our sin of abortion. We are so sorry that we robbed you of the precious lives that you gave us. Forgive us for having sex outside of marriage thinking we knew best. You only wanted to protect us from the harm it would cause us and our children. Forgive us for our sin of lust and fornication.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in your way everlasting.” (Psalm 139: 23-24) Heavenly Father, in the powerful name of Jesus I pray. Come Holy Spirit and search each heart now, remove any blindness, help us to trust You and to surrender every part of our being to You. Bring into the light our evil thoughts and actions that have hurt You, others and ourselves. Lord, forgive us for our selfish ways and our impure thoughts. Cleanse us from all our iniquity and cleanse us from our sins. We need You to renew our minds and purify our minds with the powerful Word of God. Bring down any unhealthy thinking or critical and unkind thoughts. Help us to be humble and teachable. Remove our sin of pride far from us. We want to walk in your ways, Lord. We want to relinquish control to you, Lord. We want You to be first in our lives, Lord. We want You to be glorified through our lives, Lord. Be magnified in us today.

Lord, we are totally broken over our sins. “For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.” (2 Corinthians 7:10) When we sin, let us think back to the Old Testament and picture the gruesome sacrifice of animals for a covering over our sins. In the New Testament, Jesus, the sinless Lamb of God, came and atoned for our sins and removed them from us. He was our substitute. He paid our sin debt so we can now be righteous before God. Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins. You are Holy, Lord. Help us to be pure and holy. Help us to be separated from the world. We are foreigners here. This is not our home. Let us not be like Lot’s wife, who turned back to see the destruction of the world she came to love more than You, Lord. As a result, God judged her, and she was turned into a pillar of salt. Let me love Your ways, Lord, more than anything this world can offer me.

How long, Lord, will you hold back your hand of judgment upon America? Is what we are experiencing today a result of your church not standing up against all the evil in our world? How long will you tolerate our sin of pride, idolatry and murder without bringing judgment upon us? Have mercy upon us, O Lord, and hold back your hand of judgment upon us. Help us to acknowledge that our time is short. Help us to be about your business in this world. Give us a new, fresh outpouring of your Holy Spirit to be bolder, more courageous and more effective in the things we do in this ministry, in our churches and in our families and workplaces. Set our hearts on fire with the power from your Word. In the powerful name of Jesus, I pray.

Let’s take time now to allow the Holy Spirit to search our hearts. Thank you Lord for what you will do in our lives.

You are loved,
Toni

 

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Obedience

Obedience

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

Matthew 11:28-30
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Romans 2:4b
“Not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?”

John 10: 28
“And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.”

As a young child, I developed a strong sense of responsibility. I took on shame immediately for any wrong doing. My fear of authority figures caused me to become a people-pleaser. I was a very compliant child because I didn’t want to disappoint anyone, especially my parents. I yearned for love and acceptance so much so that I would do anything to obtain it. I developed an unhealthy thinking pattern and a false belief system because of what I witnessed in my home and in church. I saw those in authority—attributing their behavior to God—act very harshly when someone disobeyed the rules. Please read my blog, Stinking Thinking: My Distorted View of God. As a result, I obeyed my elders out of fear of punishment and rejection, not out of love or reverence.

I demonstrated good moral behavior until I reached the age of 12 when “the good, quiet one” persona no longer sufficed. I began rebelling against everything I knew was right. Because of my fear of rejection, I put a great deal of energy into not getting caught. You can imagine how I lived with many secrets and hid behind a mask. I lived a lie. At home, I played the role of the “good, quiet one.” However, in public, I got drunk, used drugs and started having sex at the age of 16. All of this culminated in my abortion at the age of 21. With a firm grip on my soul, the evil one led me down a path of death and destruction. Blinded by pride and deception, I believed that I could live a life of freedom by pursuing my own desires and pleasures. However, the opposite was true. My life belonged to the devil. He would eventually use me to do the unthinkable—murder my own child. I firmly believe that if we truly knew the love of God and understood it, we would not seek love outside of marriage. We would feel cherished, whole, secure and free. We wouldn’t need drugs, alcohol and other empty vices to fill the void in our hearts because we have such a strong connection to the true source of love—Jesus.

God wants us to obey Him out of love, not fear of punishment. It’s the goodness of God that leads to true repentance and a relationship with Jesus—a relationship without bondage but true freedom. Striving to be perfect by obeying unattainable rules does not draw us closer to Christ. He desires to show us His way of love, grace, forgiveness and peace. I pray that we can share this message of hope with others. For God so loved the world that He gave His most precious gift—His only Son—to die for us. If that is not a picture of sacrificial love, then I don’t know what is.

I have found that true joy comes from obeying God no matter how I feel because my emotions can be deceiving. Being faithful to follow God’s lead in my life brings a long-lasting peace. Women often say to me, “I am really struggling in my relationship with Christ.” What I have come to understand is that the key to a strong relationship with Him is obedience. If you desire a more fulfilling relationship with God, then obey the leading of the Holy Spirit even when you don’t see how God can intervene in your circumstances. Remember that God’s ways are not our ways. True peace comes from obeying God. When we do that, we are safe and secure under His protective umbrella. He shields us from the enemy’s fiery darts, and no one can snatch us out of His hand.

In this season, we are embarking on a very important study, “In the Wildflowers,” which deals with the evil of sexual abuse. The enemy has been hard at work to derail this study. Tormented by the enemy, one of my family members has begun lashing out and attacking me verbally. Someone also attempted to take out a $75,000 small business loan in my name through identity theft. Stay close to God, dear one, because the enemy knows that many will be saved, healed, redeemed and set free. Obey God even when life becomes difficult and you struggle to understand His plan. Rest assured. You will be blessed.

Love you all,

Toni

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Every Child Deserves to Be Loved

Every Child Deserves to Be Loved

Romans 12:9b and Psalm 147:3

What happens to us as we get older and we mature and change our minds regarding abortion? Growing up I never imagined I would have an abortion. At a young age, I always loved children and took care of them because I was the oldest granddaughter on my mom’s side of the family. She is one of 10 siblings. My relatives would say, “Toni, go take the kids and play.” I even dreamed of becoming a teacher someday. That’s how much I loved children. So, I ask myself the question, why did I terminate the life of my first baby? Why did I allow the enemy to lie to me? Why didn’t I have the courage to admit to my parents that I had made a mistake and ask them for help? Why? These questions continue to plague me. The only response I can give right now is that I am trying to put all the pieces together to figure out the answers. I must revisit my childhood to identify the key moments in my life that led me astray. When did I start making decisions for myself—very bad ones—that would have long-lasting repercussions to endure for a lifetime?

My granddaughter, who is 8 years old, asked her mother about a huge billboard sign she saw on her way to school. The billboard read “Vote Pro-Life 2020” and showed a picture of a baby. My daughter briefly explained the issue of abortion and how the procedure leads to the death of the baby. My granddaughter was horrified. She could not believe a mother would kill her child. She wanted to know how the baby dies, but my daughter responded, “You don’t need to know that right now.” My granddaughter could not understand why a mother would take the life of her own child? They hugged one another and wept bitterly. After crying for a while, my granddaughter became angry and said, “How can our country allow this to happen?” She’s only 8. Yet, she knows that this is wrong. It breaks my heart. My granddaughter and I are extremely close. So, it saddens me to know that one day I will have to tell her that I had an abortion.

We have murdered over 60 million children in this country through abortion procedures. Do we need to mourn the loss of those children? Shouldn’t we all cry like my granddaughter cried when we hear such tragedy? How did each of us become so cold and disconnected from our very own child?

Where did the lie begin? When did abortion become an acceptable option? How did we transform from life-affirming children into post-abortion women? What a long and broken road we’ve walked. Let us unpack the truth and expose the reasons why we chose abortion?

I truly believe that if we had an encounter with the One True God, the Creator of the universe, engaged in a personal relationship with Him as children, teens and young adults, we would have chosen to give life to our babies in most instances. I would like to go one step further by highlighting the reality that many Christians have abortions as well. If we could only believe the truth that God loves and cherishes us and that He has a beautiful plan for our lives, we would make better decisions in this life. We were all raised in homes with some degree of dysfunction. Some were abused in their homes while others were neglected, or both. Every child deserves a safe home in which to experience love and be nurtured. Anything less is an injustice, which breaks my heart and God’s as well.

Mother Teresa of Calcutta once said, “The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread. The most terrible poverty is loneliness and the feeling of being unloved.” I believe our need for love has made us vulnerable to many kinds of evil and forms of abuse, especially you precious ones who were abused as children. When I see such evil being committed by those who have rejected Christ and remain unrepentant, the one thing that gives me peace is to know that God will bring them to justice. “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” (Romans 12: 19b)

Fear of rejection stems from another lie we have believed about God. The Lord, in His Word, reminds us numerous times, “I will not leave you.” Perhaps He knew this would be one of our greatest areas of pain and loneliness. He knew the enemy would use this lie against us as he has already done in the lives of so many others. The fear of man, fear of rejection, fear of abandonment and the fear of being judged harshly cause us to doubt God’s promises and His goodness. By fearing God more than fearing man, perhaps we would have had the courage to choose life.

It’s important to return to the memories of our past so that we can move forward. That doesn’t mean we camp out there and remain stuck in our pain. We just need to visit long enough to get understanding. In order to be healed, we must come to Jesus in our present condition and humble ourselves before Him. We can then trust Him to walk with us in the hidden places of our minds and hearts. It is only then that we can be healed and truly set free.

So, tell me your story. When did you think abortion was your only option?

What were the lies you believed that caused you to choose abortion in the first place?

Did someone force you to abort your baby?

God is with you dear one. He is close to the brokenhearted, and He heals your wounds. (Psalm 147:3)

Will you trust Him today to exchange your ashes, your abuse, your abortion, your sins for His love, forgiveness, peace and true joy?

 

Blessings,

Toni

Read more of Toni’s blog posts here!