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): David

The Traps of the Devil (Series): David

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

(2 Samuel 11:1-17-12:1-10)

This week, we will look at the sins of King David, a successful military leader and a man after God’s own heart. Led astray by lust, he actively pursues another man’s wife and opens himself up to all kinds of evil. David attempts to hide his sin of adultery with Uriah’s wife Bathsheba. She becomes pregnant with David’s child, which leads David to murder Uriah. God sends Nathan the Prophet to show David the error of his ways, and David is convicted. Although, he does not escape punishment and the consequences of his sin. His child’s life is taken by God, and the sword never leaves David’s house (2 Samuel 12:10a).

Through Scripture, we observe the rapid progression of sin in David’s life so that we can learn to guard our own hearts from the devil and his devices. No one is exempt from sin. We must do all we can to stay untarnished from the world by confessing sin daily, by being in the Word and praying throughout the day.

David’s first mistake is when he chooses to stay at the palace in the spring when kings customarily go into battle. One day, bored from laying on his bed, David decides to walk upon his rooftop from where he observes a beautiful woman bathing. When we are not doing what God has called us to do and we become lazy or bored, we are prey to the devil and his demons. Be sober and vigilant because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8). Who do you think would be living close to David’s palace? Most likely, his most trusted warriors. He inquiries about Bathsheba and learns that she is the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah, both of whom are members of David’s special forces known as David’s Mighty Men. He knew them well, for they had served the King for many years and had sacrificed their lives to keep him safe. But that doesn’t stop David from pursuing her.

Let’s apply David’s situation to our lives. As I remember, I had made my appointment to have my abortion, and I knew how to prepare for the upcoming procedure. However, on my way to the clinic, I was so hung over that I stopped to get something to eat. I was also driving myself, which shows you how unaware I was about the effects of abortion on a woman’s body. When I finally arrived at the clinic and they discovered that I had just eaten, they canceled the procedure. Here was God giving me a way out. But did I take it? NO! I rescheduled my abortion for December 10, 1980, and at the time of this writing, next week will be 40 years since my abortion. I should have stopped to reconsider what I was doing, as David should have, yet neither of us did. As a result, many people suffered a horrible fate because of our sins.

Did God give you a way to escape sin but you did not heed His warning?

We read that David involves other people in his sinful plan when he asks his servants about the beautiful woman and tells them to bring her back to his quarters. At this point, his secret lust has been made public and known to his servants. They know he loves the Lord, and he is about to commit adultery. When one is in leadership, he or she is a target for the enemy to destroy, especially a person of faith in Jesus. We must protect ourselves and be diligent because the enemy would love to destroy our testimonies and our ministry. Guard your heart with all diligence for out of it spring the issues of life (Proverbs 4:23).

How do you protect yourself from the enemy?

As we move further along in the story, David devises a plan to bring Uriah home from battle so that he will sleep with his wife and appear to conceive a child thus hiding the pregnancy from everyone, except from his servants and Joab, his military commander. Uriah refuses to go home to his wife because the Ark of the Covenant and his fellow warriors are still on the battlefield. As a result, he does not sleep with his wife but lays at the king’s gate with all of the other servants. They were probably whispering, Isn’t that Uriah the husband of Bathsheba?

Whenever we try to cover up our sin with another sin, it never ends well for anyone. During the time of my abortion, I had to hide the fact that my boyfriend, the father of my aborted baby, and I were living together. My parents would be coming to town to attend my college graduation, so I needed to find a quick solution. In the 3 years I lived in Ohio, my parents never visited, so I was able to live like the devil without fear of being discovered. But the day of reckoning was coming. When my sister called off her wedding in the summer of 1982, six months before my graduation, I decided to get married to cover up my sin. That way, when my parents came in December, my lifestyle would be acceptable. Looking back, it took many years of Christian counselling and recovery work for me to finally become the woman God created me to be. Over the years, my husband and I had a very rocky marriage and were on the brink of divorce twice. God graciously intervened, and now our marriage is stronger than it has ever been.

When have you tried to cover up your sin with more sin?

A famous quote, “Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay and cost you more than you want to pay.”

You are loved,
Toni

 

Read more of Toni’s blog posts here!

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!

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

 

Read more of Toni's blogs HERE!