He Reigns!

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Times Of Difficulty

“But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather
than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.  For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.
~2 Timothy 3:1-7

Anyone who is alive today can tell you the world is in chaos and wonder how much longer we can go on before we’ll self-destruct. For Christians, we know this means the day that Jesus returns to the earth. Never has there been a time when all the signs of the return of Jesus Christ been so apparent. While we cannot know the exact time that Jesus will return, we are told to watch the signs given to us so that we will recognize when the time is getting close. I believe we are in the last days and that Jesus is going to return in my lifetime. That being said, I remember that my grandmother believed He would return in her lifetime as well, and of course, He didn’t. But our world had not advanced enough to fulfill all that Jesus told us to watch for until this century.

In the days of Noah (Genesis 5-10), the world was wicked, so God destroyed it by water, sparing only eight people on the ark. While building the ark, Noah warned people about what the Lord was going to do and they laughed at him. They ridiculed him openly, yet Noah continued building the ark. When that first raindrop fell, the laughing stopped but it was too late. The door of the ark was sealed and no one else could get in. The story of Noah is a cautionary tale for all of us today, and an illustration of the fate those who do not trust in Christ will face.

The Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19), because of sexual sin, specifically, homosexuality, by raining fire down on the entire area. In Romans 1, Paul gives us the reasons the earth will face judgement:
1)    People suppress the truth of God
2)    Exchanging the glory of God for the worship of images
3)    Dishonoring their bodies (sexual sin); homosexuality
4)    “They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless (vv.29-31).”

“As He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of Your coming and of the end of the age?” And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains (Matthew 24:3-8).”

Since the days of Noah, there has never been a time when these things were more prevalent in society than they are right now. And it’s worldwide. These things are like birth pains. A woman doesn’t know the exact day and time when her child will come into the world, but she knows it takes 40 weeks. Once labor begins, there is no doubt the time is near. As labor progresses, the pains get closer together and stronger, and it’s time to push that child into the world. The days of Christ’s return is like that. We don’t know the exact day and hour, but we can feel the pains that bring it closer.

Some of the other signs are the increase in knowledge, and I think everyone can agree we are in the age of technology where knowledge increases at a rate I can’t even calculate. I do know that the computer I own is relatively new, yet, in the computer world, it’s a dinosaur. The world of science is advancing at a high rate of speed, bringing us newer and better technology, medicine, education, and everything else that it boggles my mind. We travel the world at faster speeds than ever thought possible, and we travel through life just as fast. In Daniel 4, the prophet tells of this happening, yet he lived in a day when traveling the world was impossible, and certainly at a much slower pace. He still predicted the would happen in the end days.

Zechariah 12 speaks of the world coming against Jerusalem, and that is occurring right now. Our president has moved the U.S. Embassy to Israel’s rightful capitol, and the nations are raging because of it. Israel has been the subject of abuse for thousands of years and will continue to be until the Lord returns to set up His kingdom and bring peace to the entire world.

These are but a few of the end time passages in the Bible that make it clear to me we are living in the end of days. Life as we know it is changing daily, and not for the better. But it will all be made right one day soon. Jesus will return for His people, and any who are not ready will suffer the consequences. Will it be in my lifetime? I truly hope so, it’s something I want to see, but even if it’s not, I will still stand before the Creator of all things and answer to Him alone for my life on earth. The only words I want to hear are, “Well done good and faithful servant.” If you aren’t ready to face the Lord, now is the time to make sure you are ready. Pray, ask God to forgive your sins, invite Jesus into your life, and love Him, and your name will be written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. That’s all it takes. It wasn’t nails that held Jesus on the Cross, it was His love for you and me.

“And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb's book of life (Revelation 21:22-27).”

Read Micah

©2018 Marie McGaha

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Spiritual Suicide

“All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to Himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
~2 Corinthians 5:18-19

Reconciliation is defined as “the action of making one view or belief compatible with another.” We hear it when a family member has been estranged and then returns home, or when a couple has been separated and then gets back together. We make compromises to be reconciled to those we’ve been separated from whether a spouse or other relationship. We offer forgiveness to one another, and choose to let old hurts remain in the past for the sake of the relationship. When it comes to Christianity, we were all separated from God, unable to overcome our sins and be reconciled, so God sent Jesus Christ to bridge the gap between us and Himself.

“And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, He has now reconciled in His body of flesh by His death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before Him (Colossians 1:21-22).”

Jesus Christ is the reconciliation God required through His death, burial and resurrection. Without accepting those three things, and bringing them into our lives, we cannot be reconciled to God. We simply don’t have what it takes on our own. We have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23) and no matter how we try, we will never be good enough for God until we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. We must repent (turn from) our sins and turn to God by following Christ (Acts 3:19) in order to be saved. Although none of us are good enough for Heaven on our own (Romans 3:10-12), Jesus came to earth to change all of that and to reconcile us to Himself. Realizing our need for Jesus Christ is the first step to reconciliation, ignoring that need is spiritual suicide.

“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation (Romans 5:6-11).”

Read Obadiah & Jonah

 © 2018 Marie McGaha

Tuesday, September 18, 2018


She answered him, “No, my brother, do not violate me, for such a thing is not done in Israel; do not do this outrageous thing.  As for me, where could I carry my shame? And as for you, you would be as one of the outrageous fools in Israel. Now therefore, please speak to the king, for he will not withhold me from you.” But he would not listen to her, and being stronger than she, he violated her and lay with her.
~2 Samuel 13:12-14

The story of King David’s children, Tamar, Ammnon, and Absolom is a complicated one with a variety of aspects, and this particular part of the story is about rape and revenge, but the part that has always struck me is the aftermath for Tamar. Verse 20 says, “So Tamar lived, a desolate woman, in her brother Absalom's house.” After that, little else is said about her. Like all sexual assault, the rape of Tamar was not about sex, it was about control, power and selfishness. And it left Tamar a tainted woman, depressed, alone, and ‘desolate’. That word, in this situation, means “devastated,” “bleak,” “stark,” “bare,” and “dismal.” Tamar’s life was ruined in ways her brothers could not understand, maybe in a way no man can understand. 

Sexual assault and abuse occur every two minutes and affects more than 350,000 women each year. And according to statistics, perpetrators of rape are often serial criminals. Out of every 1,000 suspected rape perpetrators referred to prosecutors, 370 have at least one prior felony conviction, including 100 who have 5 or more priors; 520 will be released—either because they posted bail or for other reasons— and while awaiting trial 70 of the released perpetrators will be arrested for committing another crime before their case is decided. In 2013, approximately 160,000 perpetrators were incarcerated for sexual assault, sentenced to serve an average of less than three years.* Clearly, the justice system is severely lacking and apparently does not take sexual assault seriously. While perpetrators of sexual assault serve minimal sentences before being freed to recommit their offenses, victims of sexual assault serve life-long sentences, with a myriad of complications. Victims often suffer symptoms of PTSD, fear, guilt, anger, eating disorders, sleep disorders, and often attempt suicide. They also often experience blame from the courts, friends, relatives and co-workers, while the assault itself is often trivialized. I suspect Tamar suffered many of these same things.
*Statistics from RAAIN (www.raain.org)

What you can do to help someone who’s been sexually assaulted: 1) Avoid judgement. The victim is not to blame, it is not her fault, she did not ask for it no matter how she dresses, acts, or the places she frequents. 2) Check in on her periodically. Just like with a death, there is no time limit for grief, nor is there for dealing with the emotional pain caused by the assault.  3) Know your resources. Help your friend by knowing that she needs professional help, and although you love her and are trying to help her, unless you are specifically trained in this area, she will need more help than you can give. 4) If you suspect your friend may be considering suicide, don’t wait, call the suicide hotline. 5) Your emotions will be affected by what your friend is going through, practice self-care because you cannot help her if you fall apart too.

I would like to add that prayer will, of course, help and staying close to the Lord through all situations is a must, however, after experiencing a traumatic event such as sexual assault, the victim may not want to hear what will sound like Christian platitudes. Pray for her, be there for her, but don’t preach and quote Scripture. Be there as support, and listening may be the most important thing you can do for her.

“The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry. The face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth. When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:15-18).”

Read Amos

 © 2018 Marie McGaha

Monday, September 17, 2018

Things That Are Unseen

"So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal."
~2 Corinthians 4:16-18

We often hear these verses at funerals. They are used to give mourners comfort that their loved one is in a better place, whether it's true or not. However, while these verses are meant to give comfort to the living, it is for those who live for Christ. Our outer self is wasting away, in other words, our bodies are wearing out, and anyone over 40 knows this is absolutely true. Our vision goes, our joints creak, our backs ache - we are getting older and we begin to feel it more and more with each passing year. Yet, the verse tells us that while this is happening, our inner self is being renewed each day. That's what the Spirit of the Lord does for us as we grow in Him. We may have to deal with our mortal bodies aging, but life on earth is momentary when we compare our time here to eternity spent with the Lord. This life is what is seen and eternity is unseen, yet we know it exists. And it is our choice where we'll spend it. Either in eternal glory or eternal agony.

"I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:1-2)."

As we get older, we realize our lives are going to end and we begin to prepare for that eventuality. We have insurance, burial plans, and wills in place so our assets will go those we choose. We prepare for the end of our lives, but we don't always prepare for our eternal lives, which is by far more important. Do you know where you will spend eternity? If not, now is the time to choose. Prepare for your eternal life more carefully than you do for the end of your life; accept Christ as your Savior and have everlasting life.

"For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent Me has Himself given Me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. And I know that His commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told Me (John 12:49-50).”

Read Joel

©2018 Marie McGaha

Friday, September 14, 2018

The Truth of Christ

“While walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And He said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.  And going on from there He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and He called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed Him.”
~Matthew 4:18-22

A recent study in Christianity conducted by LifeWay revealed some interesting facts. In a survey (all races, gender and socioeconomic standing were included) of people who confess to be Christians, nearly 75% agreed that following the teachings of Christ was not the most important thing in their lives, and 60% believe that everyone will eventually go to Heaven; and while they all agreed there is only one true God, 64% believes God accepts the worship of all religions and beliefs. Two-thirds of those who participated in the poll also said everyone sins a little bit, but all people are basically good. More than 60% said Jesus Christ was a created being, although the most important one created by God, and they did not believe the Holy Spirit is as important as God. Obviously, our views about the Bible, salvation, and following Christ leaves room for improvement.

When calling His disciples, Jesus obviously thought following Him was the most important thing a person could do. In the above verse, the men called by Jesus thought so too because they dropped everything, left their families and followed Jesus. In Luke 9:57-62 two men Jesus called had other things to do—one wanted to bury his father and the other wanted to tell his family goodbye, but Jesus told them to leave what they were doing and don’t look back. So how important does Christ think it is for us to follow Him?

Christianity is a theocentric belief, in other words, Christ is the focus of our beliefs. Without Christ, there is no salvation at all. Without Christ, we are doomed to an eternity that has no hope. And following Christ must be the most important part of our lives, which includes understanding who He is, what He wants from us, and how we do that. In today’s society that says everything is about self, following Christ is a contradiction but sadly, even the church has become a place to meet friends and have coffee rather than a place for true repentance, worship, and sermons that preach the truth of God.

“I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth (Revelation 3:15-16).”

True repentance brings about change in one’s life and gives us new purpose. Without repentance, we cannot change, and until we understand the truth of God’s word, we will never understand who Christ is and what He wants for our lives.

1)    All have sinned (Romans 3:23). That means every single person on earth with no exceptions.
2)    We worship God alone (Luke 4:8). There is no other God besides Him.
3)    Jesus Christ is God (Isaiah 9:6).
4)    We must worship God alone (John 4:24).
5)    Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation (Acts 4:12).
6)    Jesus gives us eternal life (John 3:36).
7)    You must believe in Jesus and confess He is Lord to have       
        everlasting life (Romans 10:9).
8)    You must be born again (John 3:3).
9)    You must repent and be baptized (Acts 2:38).
10)  You must live for Christ in word and actions (Colossians 3:17).

Living for Christ means to devote all that you are to Christ—the things you say, the things you do, the way you act—all must fall in line with the Word of God. Don’t be a lukewarm Christian, go all in!

 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me. In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to Myself, that where I am you may be also.  And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going. How can we know the way?”  Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.  If you had known Me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know Him and have seen Him.” Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know Me, Philip? Whoever has seen Me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own authority, but the Father who dwells in Me does His works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me, or else believe on account of the works themselves (John 14:1-11).”

Read Daniel 6-12; Weekend reading Hosea 1-14

©2018 Marie McGaha

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Through The Pain of Suicide

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”
~Jeremiah 17:7-8

When someone commits suicide, it leaves family and friends dumbfounded. Not only do we feel the grief of a death, but the questions that follow can make life unbearable. The greatest question is usually, “why didn’t I see this coming?” We feel as if we should have known, should have been able to see it, should have been able to do something to stop it, in short, we feel guilt and responsibility for a death caused by suicide. On top of that, we fear the worst has happened, our loved one has not only killed themselves, they’ve committed their souls to hell. How do we come to terms with a death by suicide? How do we go on living with the knowledge that our loved one didn’t feel they could come to us with their problems and felt as if death was a better option? How do we continue in our faith when we are led to believe that suicide is an automatic ticket to hell? How do we believe in God after suicide?

To be sure, I don’t have all the answers but having dealt with my daughter’s suicide, I have experienced the emotions, fears, and questions that go with it. First, I can say that all my questions have not been answered, even though it’s been nearly 27 years. I still don’t have the answers to why—why didn’t she come to me? Why didn’t she go to her older siblings? Why did she think death was a better option than living? In the early days following her death, those questions almost drove me out of my mind. Since then, I’ve concluded that she probably couldn’t tell me why either. There is a certain state of mind that goes with suicide that those who have not been there really can’t understand. I also had a nephew who committed suicide, and as a counselor, I have sat across from others who had a family member or close friend who committed suicide, and while the questions survivors have remained the same, I still don’t have the right answers.

“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved (Ephesians 2:1-5).”

Many people may disagree with the following, but it took me many years to come to this conclusion, it wasn’t made from grief or a way to deal with my own loss. It comes from years of being a counselor, dealing with others who have lost loved ones to suicide, and from lots and lots of prayer. I was raised to believe that suicide was a ticket straight to hell, that it broke the sixth commandment “Do not commit murder,” and suicide is self-murder. I do believe if a person dies without knowing Christ as their Savior, they go to hell, whether or not they commit suicide, but those who are saved by grace and commit suicide do not go to hell. Hebrews 11:32 includes Samson as one of the heroes of faith, yet Samson caused his own death, as well as that of about 3,000 Philistines (Judges 16). I believe that our confession of faith in Christ and accepting Him as our Savior, covers our sins completely.

There is a certain mindset when it comes to suicide. I don’t believe anyone who commits suicide does so without depression being part of that mindset. Depression takes away our ability to see our situation in life rationally. While I certainly hope those who suffer with depression will talk to someone, see a counselor, or a medical doctor to see if medication will help, I do not believe a Christian who commits suicide is automatically condemned to hell.

“Then when Judas, His betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.” And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself (Matthew 27:3-5).” 

Most people I know think Judas Iscariot went to hell - I don’t. When we accept Christ as our Savior, we must first repent for our sins, which means to turn from them and turn to Christ. While Judas Iscariot did indeed betray Christ, it was something that had to happen, and my question was always, if Christ knew Judas would betray Him, and it was necessary to further salvation for us all, why would Judas be condemned to hell when he hanged himself? Judas regretted his decision to betray Christ, he repented when he took the money back to the priests, but he also felt so much guilt over what he had done, he killed himself. I’m also sure he was depressed and not thinking right.

If you have lost a loved one to suicide, I am so sorry and I share in your grief. Please know that you are not at fault, you did nothing wrong, and you could not have changed anything. I pray that you will seek counseling if you are not able to walk through your grief in a reasonable amount of time. By that, I mean if a year later, you are still unable to function, you may need medical intervention. While there is no time limit on grief, it should not become debilitating, know the signs and get help. If you are contemplating suicide, please get help. There is an answer and there is a brighter life for you on the other side of your problems. Suicide is never the right answer, no matter how bleak life seems.

“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in Heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of His glory He may grant you to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:14-19).”

Read Ezekiel 46-47 & Daniel 1-5

© 2018 Marie McGaha

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Move Forward

“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.
~Isaiah 43:18-19

Does your past haunt you? Do you think of the things you’ve done and play out the scenario of how it could’ve gone differently if only you had said something different? Do the would haves, should haves and could haves keep you awake at night? We’ve all done things we wish we hadn’t, or that we wish we could’ve done differently. I often think of my life and wish for the one big do-over. I know the exact moment I would go back to and what I’d do, and my whole life would be completely different. But we can’t go back, and God isn’t handing out do-overs. All we can do is, hopefully, learn from our past and don’t make the same mistakes over again. Our past makes us who we are today, and the events we survived are either an anchor that drags us down or a sail that moves us forward.

“Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13-14).” 

When we follow Jesus, we have to move forward and leave our past behind us. We simply cannot stay where we are and follow Jesus. Or, as I tell my kids, “You can’t ride two horses with one saddle, sugar bean.” We can live in the past and wallow in our failures, or we can get up and walk it off by exercising our faith in Jesus Christ. No matter where we’ve been or what we’ve been through, when we accept Christ as our Savior, He will not leave us where we are. He will pick us up, dust us off, and heal our wounds but we must take that first step toward Him.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to Himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:17-21).”

Read Ezekiel 40-45

© 2018 Marie McGaha