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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The Traps of the Devil (Series): Elijah

The Traps of the Devil (Series): Elijah

The Traps of the Devil: Elijah
A Series Taken from Dr. Charles Stanley

 

Elijah
(1 Kings 18-19)

As we continue our study looking at the lives of Eve, Achan, David and now Elijah, let’s consider the following question. What was the one thing that Elijah focused his attention on causing him to flee and want to die? He was threatened by King Ahab’s wife, Queen Jezebel, who was the most evil woman ever recorded in Scripture. She had a man cut into pieces because he would not sell his vineyard to her husband, King Ahab. She would stop at nothing to achieve her end goal. A worshipper and servant of Baal, she was cunning and deceptive like Satan the snake. To obtain whatever she desired, Jezebel would steal, cheat and lie. Ahab, on the other hand, was supposedly a believer of the One True God. However, with her idol worship and sacrifice, Jezebel caused her husband to fall into sin against God. Without a doubt, she was evil to her very core. As a result of the atrocities that Ahab and Jezebel committed, God punished them by withholding rain for 3 ½ years. At this same moment in history, God raised up the prophet Elijah to confront Ahab and Jezebel regarding their sins and to proclaim judgment as a result of their idolatry.

Following his proclamation against the King and Queen, Elijah engages in a battle of sorts between the prophets of Baal and the children of God on Mount Carmel. Read the full biblical account in 1 Kings 18. Elijah challenges the prophets of Baal to call down fire from the sky to burn up the sacrifice prepared for their god. All day they worship, cut themselves and cry out, but Baal remains silent. I love Elijah’s response—Perhaps your gods went on a journey, or they are sleeping. Next, it’s Elijah’s turn. He drenches the offering and the altar with water. Then, he cries out to God. Fire comes down from heaven consuming the sacrifice along with the entire altar. Elijah proceeds to kill 450 prophets of Baal with the sword, after which he runs to Ahab to say that rain is coming. Ahab tells Jezebel all that has happened. After hearing this, she becomes enraged and vows to kill Elijah within 24 hours. When Elijah discovers this, he flees for his life. Out of immense fear, he asks God to take his life because he doesn’t want to live anymore—all because of one woman.

Let’s reflect upon this scenario and apply it to our lives. When were you fearful and running for your life; was it due to an abusive situation or were you running away from your past? The Lord has shown me not to run, but to face things head on, while I am holding onto His righteous right hand. He will protect us. May He give us courage to stand on His Word and His truth.

You are loved,
Toni

 

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The Traps of the Devil (Series): Achan

The Traps of the Devil (Series): Achan

The Traps of the Devil: ACHAN
A Series Taken from Dr. Charles Stanley

“Achan”

(Joshua 6 & 7:1–12)

Why is the love of money the root of all kinds of evil?

 

1 Timothy 6:10 states, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”

Joshua 6:18-19, God warned the Children of Israel, “And you, by all means abstain from the accursed things, lest you become accursed when you take of the accused things, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it. But all the silver and gold, and vessels of bronze and iron, are consecrated to the Lord; they shall come into the treasury of the Lord.”

After Israel had won a huge victory in battle over Jericho where the Lord caused the walls to come crashing down, Joshua went to take the city of Ai. God commanded the children of Israel to refrain from taking anything that belonged to the people in Jericho. All the gold and silver would be brought into the storehouse for the Lord. If anyone were to disobey God’s command, they would be accursed. Unfortunately, there was an Israelite who did not heed the Lord’s warning as a result of his disobedience the battle was lost and 36 men died. Devastated, the children of Israel could not understand what went wrong. Joshua and the leaders of Israel cried out to the Lord, rent their clothes and put ashes on their heads. God responded by telling Joshua, “Get UP! There is sin in the camp, and that’s why you lost the battle. Someone has taken the accursed things from Jericho.” Joshua was given the responsibility to seek out the person responsible for sinning against God and for betraying the people of Israel.

Israel’s situation paints a vivid picture of how destructive sin can be. Many people are often affected by just one act of sin. Joshua discovered that it was Achan who had touched the accursed items by bringing them back into his tent and burying them. Because he allowed the sin of greed to control his actions, Achan’s whole family was punished for his actions. What a powerful example of the deadly effects of sin on an entire family and group of people. Sadly, Achan’s family suffered the consequences of his greed, which is the case for many families today. When a person in a family falls into grievous sin, all the members of the family are harmed by the effects of it. Because of God’s awareness of the destructiveness of sin, He protects us by giving us laws to guide us, not to punish us.

Why didn’t Achan trust God to provide for his family?

Why don’t we trust God to provide for all of our needs?

Why do people steal and take things that don’t belong to them?

Is it out of fear that I will not have enough, doubting that God will provide for me?

We may say to ourselves, “I cannot trust God to provide. So, I must take matters into my own hands and steal and cheat and lie to get what I need. No one will find out.”

Let’s apply 1 Timothy 6:10 to our society today.

Why does the love (obsession) of money open us up to all kinds of evil?

What is our motivation for the money?

Is it to provide for our families and to help others, or is it for personal gain?

Some people want to acquire large sums of money so that they can have greater power, control, and influence. We see this very same situation occurring today in several professions where the accumulation of wealth leads to pride, arrogance, power, influence and lawlessness. They become deceived and consumed with the notion that they are somehow better than you and me. I pray they repent and turn from their sins and receive the gift of salvation, which was purchased for them with the precious blood of Christ. If such people die without having repented of their sins, then they will stand before Christ and will be judged, according to what they have done, Romans 2:6. They will be cast into hell where the fire is not quenched and there is wailing and gnashing of teeth. Separated from God for eternity, they will be tormented with the memories of all the evil they have committed in their lifetime. God will be much harsher with them than we could ever imagine. Let’s pray for those who believe they are superior to others and have no fear of God, that they come to faith in Christ.

Will you pray with me that the God of heaven and His Mighty Warrior Angels will dismantle this evil world system, which is opposite of God? They strive to divide, steal, kill, cheat and lie to get what they want all because they have chosen to follow Satan, the prince of this world.

Stay in community and be accountable to one another so you do not fall into temptation and a snare.

 

You are loved,
Toni

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The Traps of the Devil (Series): Eve

The Traps of the Devil (Series): Eve

The Traps of the Devil: EVE
A Series Taken from Dr. Charles Stanley

“Eve”

Genesis 2:21
“And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place.”

Genesis 3:1–9
“Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”

And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’”

Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.

And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.

Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?”

Have you ever wanted something you knew you should not have or participated in something you knew you shouldn’t? Have you ever been tempted to sin?

The enemy tries to take our attention off of God and focus on the one thing we don’t have. For Eve, it is the fruit she cannot eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The serpent has been observing Eve for a while. He cannot read her mind, but he watches for her reactions and her behavior patterns. He sees her approaching the tree and looking at the beautiful fruit. She is thinking, I wonder why God is keeping this from me. God is holding back something good from me. It’s because He doesn’t really love and care about me. If He did, He would let me have this fruit.

For those of us who have had children or have spent any time with children, we understand that children do not know what is best for them. They would eat junk food all day and watch TV all night. As adults, we know that is not a healthy way to live. We love them. So, we teach them and put up boundaries so they learn to make healthy choices. We do this because we care about their well-being and their future. God loves us too and wanted to protect Adam, Eve and the whole world from the destructive effects of sin. That’s why He told them not to eat of the fruit.

We see in Scripture that Eve has a conversation with Satan the serpent. That was her first mistake. Do not have a dialogue with the enemy. Do not even entertain his thoughts because he is more cunning then you know. We cannot reason or trust the enemy to lead us to do anything that would benefit us in any way. His ways always lead to death and destruction. That’s why knowing the Word of God is so important. When the enemy lies to you, you will know the truth and you will not fall into temptation or sin.

The second thing we see is Satan causing Eve to doubt God’s Word. He said, “You shall not eat it: for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:17) Satan said, “You shall not surely die, For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Becoming like “god” was all Eve needed to hear. Pride will destroy a godly person faster than anything else. I can be my own “god”. I can do whatever I want. I am in charge of my life. I don’t need God. I took that approach when I had my abortion because I thought I knew better. I wanted to be in control of my life. I am my own “god”. Look what that did for me and my dear son. He died as a result of my decision. Consequently, I was plunged headlong into deep despair, depression, self-loathing and suicidal thoughts. Don’t listen to Satan. He will destroy you. Only God’s way leads to life, peace, joy and true freedom.

So, where was Adam when this was all happening? When Eve took of the fruit and ate it, Adam should have said, “What are you doing? God told us not to eat it.” But the scriptures say that Eve gave it to her husband, and he ate. Then their eyes were opened, and they knew they were naked. Then, they sewed fig leaves together to cover up their nakedness and their sin. I, too, have done that in my life. I rushed to hide my sin never thinking about the consequences. Those decisions have never led to good outcomes for me. The fear of being unmasked is a powerful motivator. My false persona of being the good quiet one was in danger of exposure. As a result, I rushed my decision to have an abortion. In my mind, there were no other alternatives. Hurry up and take care of it, or do this before someone finds out that the good quiet one in the family is a phony. My whole life had become a lie.

God calls out to Adam, “Where are you?” God knew where Adam and Eve were. He wanted to give them a chance to come out of hiding and confess their sin. However, they didn’t. We hide from God too. We isolate ourselves as Christians. We stop going to church or stop being accountable to people when we sin because it’s easier. Then we wake up one morning and say, “How did I get here?” It happens very quickly, my friends. It’s important to confess sin daily to God and to stay in a close Christian community like this group where there is accountability. Each one of us is just one step away from falling into grievous sin. Stay close to God, read His Word, memorize Scripture and stay in community with other believers. If you do this, you will be protected from the lies and the fiery darts of the enemy.

Keep your focus on God alone, and you will be safe.

Please share how you took matters into your own hands like Eve did? What was the outcome?

What have you learned from that experience?

You are loved,
Toni

 

Read more of Toni’s blog posts here!

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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