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

 

Read more of Toni’s blog posts here!

We Are Adopted

We Are Adopted

Isaiah 49:15

Can a woman forget her nursing child, and not have compassion on the son (child) of her womb? Surely they may forget, yet I will not forget you.

Matthew 10:29-31

Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

John 14:18

I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.

God treasures the orphan. He knows that they are alone with no one to care for them and are vulnerable to the evil in this world. Some of you were abandoned as children to fend for yourselves without any love or protection. My heart breaks each time I hear your childhood stories of abuse and neglect. Your heavenly Father has a righteous anger towards parents who abuse, neglect and abandon their children. I want you to know that God sees you. He wants to receive you into His loving arms so that He can be your Father, your Protector and your Provider. He is the perfect parent—patient, kind, gentle, loving and always available. Please know just how much you are loved and cherished by God.

Courageous women and men are choosing life for their babies all the time. However, we rarely hear their stories. I want to bless your heart and encourage you today with a beautiful story of God’s faithfulness towards a mother who chose adoption over abortion. Read here: The Mysterious Providence of God: An Adoption Story, https://www.care-net.org/abundant-life-blog/the-mysterious-providence-of-god-an-adoption-story

God is love. His Spirit is moving to heal, redeem and tenderly lead us to the life He has planned for us—one that leads to freedom, peace and joy. Take heart dear ones. No, we did not choose life for our babies, but God didn’t end our stories there. He continues His work of restoring us, drawing us closer to Himself and loving us in the way that only He can. These are God’s words for you today, “I know how your heart broke when I revealed your unborn baby to you—the secret you had been hiding for so long. My dear child, I collected all of your tears in a bottle. I am looking forward to the day when we can be together in heaven forever. Where there is no more evil, abuse, pain or sorrow. Until then please know how much I love you. Your Abba Father.”

I am not rejected. I am accepted.

I am not abandoned. I am adopted.

Thank you, for that truth, Lord.

Please let me know how we can pray for you?

If you have experienced abuse or neglect in your past, please know God is here to heal you. He is not like your human abuser. He is gentle, loving and kind. His love is pure and holy. Please come to Him today, and leave your past at the foot of the cross. Give it all to Jesus.

You are loved,
Toni

Read more of Toni's blogs HERE!

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

Read more of Toni’s blog posts here!

Why Are Women Afraid to Share Their Abortion Secret

Why Are Women Afraid to Share Their Abortion Secret

Why are we fearful to share our abortion secret?
John 10:8-11

What is holding Christian women back from admitting this sin and coming forward to ask for healing? Why do women in leadership feel they cannot share they had an abortion? Will their ministries be less effective? I don’t think so. I truly believe when women in leadership come forward and admit this publicly, it gives the rest of the women sitting in the group or congregation, permission to come out and share as well.

The stats provided by Care Net tell us 4 out of 10 women identify as Christians and attend church at least once a month. These women are the first to have an abortion for fear of being found out. The enemy lies to them and tells them they have to take care of this quickly because they are a Pastor’s wife, or daughter, or they are in leadership; it has to be a secret and no one can find out. So, they quickly go to the abortion clinic and have an abortion. Afterwards they are a mess emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually. This is wrong!!! The church and Christians should be the first ones to say we are here to help you, please do not terminate your child’s life because you made a mistake. There are other life affirming options available. That’s what the MLD course through Care Net does. It equips believers to come along side these women and men, to give them information about abortion and the life affirming alternatives, to pray with them, to share the Gospel with them, that Jesus died on the cross for them so they can have freedom, forgiveness of sins, and a new life; and to walk with them on this journey so they don’t feel all alone. This cycle of death in the church needs to stop and I pray Pastors and leaders’ eyes will be opened to this truth, and they will be willing to do something about it.

John 10:8-11 saysAll who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door, if anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come but to steal, kill, and destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.

The enemy hates everything that God created, especially his most beautiful creation mankind, because we are created in His image and are given a living Spirit. God created us to have a relationship with Him. But He gave us a free will also. The enemy, since the beginning of time, in the garden has lied to us and caused us to doubt God’s Word and His love for us. When we as believers go against God’s best for us or break His laws, we sin. That’s when the struggle begins and the enemy then has a foothold in our lives. That’s where the church is now. The enemy has these women and men who have aborted their babies, in bondage, isolation, and torment. He wants them to keep this a secret, because he wants to prevent them from experiencing true peace with God, forgiveness of sins, and he certainly doesn’t want us, (those who have been healed from our past abortions) to tell others that there is hope and healing in Christ. More people need to hear the truth from us, I pray our voices will be louder than the enemy’s, so people can truly be set free.

How can we encourage Christian women sitting in our churches every Sunday to share their secret of abortion? I believe they must hear someone’s abortion story; they need to see a face associated with an Abortion Recovery Ministry or Bible Study. Then they can feel safe to come forward. But for some reason the church is hesitant to share this from the pulpit, I’m not sure why. I am praying that God will raise up bold and courageous leaders who have had an abortion, to step up and share with other women to encourage them to step out also.

Let me ask you, why did it take you so long to come forward to admit you had an abortion?

Tell me your story. What did God use to get you to step out and come forward for healing?

As a result of your healing what has God called you to do?

Will you join me to stop abortion in the church and come alongside other women to encourage them to break this cycle of death, in exchange for one that leads to life, freedom, and peace?

Blessings,

Toni