He Reigns!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Open Marriage Part 2

“In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God's gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered."
~1 Peter 3:7

Marriage is ordained by God. He is a family man and our marriages are important to Him. While there is nothing wrong with being single (1 Corinthians 7:7, Matthew 19:11), marriage was designed for procreation and to keep people from sexual sin. Marriage is a special covenant between a man and a woman with God that is a lifetime commitment. With the exception of violence (1 Corinthians 7:15) and infidelity (Matthew 5:31-32), there is no excuse for divorce. Even those who are a Christian and marry a non-Christian, or a spouse who becomes a Christian during the marriage while the other spouse remains a non-Christian, has no excuse for divorce (1 Corinthians 7:15-16).

However, the current divorce rate is about 53%, even among professing Christians and those who attend church regularly. Why is this? Quite simply - satan. That may seem like a cop-out to some but when examining marriage from a biblical view, we see that everything God ordains as being holy and good is fiercely opposed by the devil. He does not want us to succeed in our walk with God and our marriages and families become prime targets. Remaining firmly planted in the Word of God, seeing the world from a godly perspective, and living out our lives in a manner pleasing to God are the first steps to ensuring our marriages last a lifetime.

"A new command I give you, love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another (John 13:34 NIV)."
The love of God is call "Agape" love. This is a deep, abiding love that surpasses all other types of love. It is a love that overlooks the faults of others and accepts them fully. This is the love Christ has for each of us. The love that led Him to the Cross to give His life so that our sins will not be held against us. It is the love that purchased our souls from hell and allows us entrance to Heaven. When we fully understand the love of God for us, we see that it is much more than the love we know from our own experiences.

There are two other types of love in the Bible. "Phileo" love is the love of friends. The type of love we have for our best friend, our parents, siblings and others. The other type of love is "eros" love. This is sexual love, desire, or lust. It is the type of love most closely associated with an intimate relationship. Having both types of love for our spouses is important. But to have a marriage that endures, we must also love our spouses with the same love God loves us, that is Agape love. This is a sacrificial love. It never asks, "What's in it for me?" Agape love is an action, not a feeling. It is what we do, what we say, how we act with our spouse. It is putting that person ahead of our own needs, and it is acting in love even when the other person has made us angry or isn't acting in a loving manner toward us.

It can be very easy to react in a like manner to someone who is being loud, insulting, angry or otherwise hurtful. But that isn't how God tells us to respond. We are to love one another (John 15:12-13), to show our love (Romans 5:8) for one another, and to do no wrong to another person (Romans 13:10), no matter how they are treating us. That doesn't mean we have to cower and take abuse, but we are not to repay wrong for wrong (1 Peter 3:9).

Marriage is a blessing from God that gives us a partner to help us through this thing called life. When approached in a manner worthy of our calling in Christ Jesus, our marriages will be as loving and fulfilling on the last day of our lives as on the wedding day.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Open Marriage Part 1

“In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God's gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered."
~1 Peter 3:7

Marriage isn't easy. Living with someone until 'death do us part' is a daunting task. And trying to make a marriage last in a world that says it's okay to toss aside anything and move on to the next thing, makes lifelong commitments seem less than desirable.

My husband is a truck driver and he's around other drivers either in person or on the CB. Many of these men enjoy telling other truckers about their lives at home. They talk about the sports they watch, the toys they own, and ultimately, about their wives and marriages. My husband has seen a firsthand account of the differences between worldly marriages and godly marriages.

Some of these men don't tell their wives how much money they make, they have separate bank accounts, they split the bills so the wives have to pay their "share," and some have separate lives. When my husband told me this, I thought it sounded more like roommates instead of marriage.

God created our marriages to be open, trusting, faithful, with no doubts about our spouse. Secrets of any kind within a marriage breeds mistrust, jealousy and anger. Yes, everything you do is your spouses business just as everything your spouse does is your business.

My husband's email account and mine are linked, we both have all passwords on computers, phones, and every site we might have that requires passwords. We know pins for one another's bank cards, credit cards etc.  He has full access to my purse and wallet, and I have full access to his wallet. We have full access to everything the other does.

That doesn't mean we mistrust one another or that we rifle through one another's things. In fact, I can't remember the last time I looked at anything of his....he's actually pretty boring!

We have absolute trust in one another because we know our desire is to last a lifetime. Our marriage is designed on a triangle with God at the top point, my husband and I at the other two points, and everything else about life - children, jobs, friends, finances etc. - are in the middle. God is the head of our marriage, the Pattern we follow (Ephesians 5:22-24). God is Head of the church, the husband is Head of the house, but that doesn't mean wives are less than equal with their husbands. It means the husband has the greater responsibility for the care and support of his family. Every man will be held accountable for how he cared for, or failed to care for his family.

God didn't design our relationships as temporary or replaceable. Even our existance is to be everlasting. Living within God's design and plan, means not only will our marriages last a lifetime, we will be headed for everlasting life with Jesus in Heaven.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

To Tithe Or Not To Tithe

"In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel."
~1 Corinthians 9:14

Tithing is a hotly debated subject among some Christians. Their argument is that it's Old Testament, even though Luke 6:38 seems pretty clear to me, and Jesus said, "Render unto Cesar what is Cesar's and unto God what is God's" (Matthew 22:21). And Psalm 24:1 tells us "The Earth is the Lord's and everything in it..."

I believe in tithing. God has blessed me and I know He expects me to bless others however I can. He also expects us to support our pastors and the churches we attend. While I have heard people say that a pastor should support himself, this is contrary to Scripture. In fact, Paul devotes 1Corinthians 9:1-19 to explaining why a preacher should be supported by his congregation.

In today's world, there are some very real, practical reasons to pay your tithes and help support your pastor. While churches are tax exempt, that only applies to income tax. There are still bills to pay. The lights, water, sewer, garbage, property tax, insurance, repairs​, to name a few of the larger costs. But there's a lot of smaller costs: office supplies, classroom supplies for Sunday School, website costs, etc. And that doesn't even cover paying the person who is responsible for taking care of it all, while also being pastor, teacher, counselor, maintenance personnel, janitor, and shepherd of the flock.

You go to church to be fed the Word of God, to worship and fellowship with other believers, to be loved, cared for and to find emotional support during times of crisis and hardships. Church is a buffet for what we need spiritually and emotionally.

When you go to a restaurant to eat, you don't expect them to feed you for free, so why do so many expect to dine at church for free? God asks for a mere 10% to be returned to His house to support those He has called to take care if the congregation, and people refuse to give. Yet those same people think nothing of tagging on a 20% gratuity for the waiter who delivered their plate to the table.

Tithing is important to God. It shows your faithfulness, your belief that He really is in control, that He can take your small portion and multiply it greatly, and above all that, it shows He is Lord of your life.

God has given us everything. He died on the Cross out of love for each of us. He asks for our commitment to serve Him by serving others in our actions, deeds, and finances.

He is either Lord of your life, including your money, or He is Lord of nothing in your life.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 7:21).

Monday, August 14, 2017

This Is Gonna Hurt

"You rejoice in this greatly, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials. These trials are so that the true metal of your faith (far more valuable than gold, which perishes though refined by fire) may come to light in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Messiah Yeshua (1 Peter 1:6-7, TLV)."

Trials and tribulations make up our life. We all go through them to one extent or another. When someone complains and says, "Why me?" My answer is usually, "Because it's your turn."

No one wants to go through trials in life. They're painful and we don't like to be in pain on any level. The problem is, we can't avoid trials because even if we do the right thing, keep to ourselves, keep our mouths shut and don't run off the rails, we are still affected by the world around us. Our spouses, children, relatives, co-workers, friends, and even strangers affect our lives. The struggles of the world around us affect our lives, moods, and finances. None of us are an island and we cannot avoid being tested in life. But we can decide how we are going to deal with these tests.

Suffering in life isn't always about the event we are going through, it is also about how we handle it and what purpose it serves within us. "And not only that, but we also boast in suffering—knowing that suffering produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope (Romans 3:4-5, TLV)."

There is purpose in the trials of life. It builds character and faith in us but it also shows our faith and trust in the Lord to those around us. Trials even produce happiness!
"Happy is the one who endures testing, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord promised to those who love Him (James 1:12, TLV)."But all of those results are predicated on our response.

(1) How am I responding to a problem?
People of God should respond in a godly manner, not in a worldly manner.

(2) How should I respond? We are to respond in a manner worthy of our calling in Christ.

(3) What lesson is there to be learned?
Every trial has a life lesson; don't be afraid of the trial but instead, seek the lesson within.

(4) Does my response demonstrate to others my faith and love for Christ?
Trials build our faith in God but also shows God to others.

(5) How can God use it in my life?
Trials test our faith and gives us a new, richer understanding of who God is.

Being tested is not God being angry with us but rather a way of refining us for His glory. Jesus was tempted in the desert (Matthew 4:1-11), and He faced many trials leading to the Cross, but He over came the Cross and set an example for us (John 16:33). And He did not leave us to struggle alone.

"No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it (1 Corinthians 10:13, ESV).

 ©Marie McGaha 2017
No reproduction without author's permission

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Be Courageous

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.”
~2 Samuel 13:12-13

Tamar was about to be raped and pleaded with her brother, Amnon, to stop. She even begged him to go to the king (their father) and ask for her hand in marriage. This shows how desperate Tamar was since marriage between relatives was strictly forbidden by the Torah (Leviticus 18:19). However, her words fell on deaf ears, and Amnon overpowered his sister and raped her. He then tossed her out as if she were to blame and Tamar lived out her life a broken woman.

There are many things in life that aren't going to make sense. There are going to be many people who ignore us when we speak, even when we're being reasonable. Even when we're speaking truth, there will be people who are going to ignore what we say. There are going to be times when we become so desperate, we will say anything to change the situation we are in. There are going to be times when we feel helpless to change the road we're on.

Life isn't easy and bad things happen. Things beyond our control will happen. Situations we create that cause other bad things are going to happen. We are going to be hurt - physically and emotionally. We are going to have broken hearts. We're going to experience loss. We live in a sick world that spreads it's disease to everyone on some level, either directly or indirectly. That is the penalty for living in a sinful world. No one is immune, however, we can help ourselves and those around us.

"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15). Christ has a complete understanding of the human condition, of our pain and our weakness. And he alone is able to give us eternal comfort and rest (Matthew 11:28).

No matter where we've been, no matter the mess we've made, no matter the pain we live with, no matter how broken our lives are -- Jesus can make us brand new, change the path we're on, and give us purpose.

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).

We are also overcomers. We are conquerers (Romans 8:37) with the strength and ability to be the women of God we were designed to be. We have a strong spirit and a strong mind (2 Timothy 1:7), and in Jesus, we can accomplish anything.

"What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us
(Romans 8:31)?"

©Marie McGaha 2017
No reproduction without author's permission

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Slavery Or Freedom

"But Jonadab the son of Shimeah, David's brother, said, “Let not my lord suppose that they have killed all the young men, the king's sons, for Amnon alone is dead. For by the command of Absalom this has been determined from the day he violated his sister Tamar."
~2 Samuel 13:32

Two years passed before Absolom had the opportunity to kill his brother, Amnon, for raping their sister, Tamar. Absolom had been "determined" to make sure Amnon paid for his misdeed, and eventually, the opportunity arose. By this time, I wonder if Tamar's honor was still the primary focus, or had the rage against Amnon taken on a life of it's own?

Sometimes bitterness, hatred, anger, hurt feelings, and the desire to get even can blind us. We can become so focused on our own private hell, we go beyond reason. I remember when the uncle who molested me from age three to age eleven died. My father came by to see if I wanted to go to the funeral but I refused. All I wanted to do was dance on his grave in a red dress and high heels.

Would that make me feel better? Would that have resolved the conflict within? Would it have affected him in any way? Probably not.

We often turn to revenge when we've been harmed by another. Turning the inward frustration, pain, and anger on the person who harmed us seems like a great idea. We think that by giving those feelings an outlet, they'll go away. We think that if we can hurt back it will have some type of soothing affect on our soul. Our flesh calls for pure, unadulterated revenge to set things right in our world, however, the opposite often occurs. Revenge doesn't make us feel better and often leads to a new, larger set of problems.

Everything Christ preached goes against our natural desires. Matthew 6:15 says, "if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive you." For most of us, that's difficult to understand. Forgiving those who have harmed us goes completely against our human nature.

But isn't that why Jesus came to Earth? Wasn't He here to set the example of unconditional love and absolute forgiveness to all who ask?

I heard a priest say, in response to being asked if he forgave the men who killed his brother, "No, I do not forgive them."
"But you're a priest!"
"Christ forgives. I'm not Christ!"

I think a lot of people might respond that way. I know I did for a lot of years. The idea that I should forgive the man who ruined my life was abhorrent. He deserved my hatred and loathing. Most assuredly, he did not deserve my forgiveness. But, in the cold light of day, do any of us actually deserve forgiveness? Is any one of us able to look at the the Cross and declare we are not in need of what Christ did there? And if we are in need of Christ's forgiveness, how much more should we forgive others?

Forgiving those who have caused us great harm isn't easy. It doesn't always happen overnight. Forgiveness is a learning process, and it is definitely a growing experience. And it is absolutely necessary if we are to move forward in life.

"...But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, (Philippians 3:13).

Forgiving others frees us from the grip of what our abusers have done to us and allows us to move forward toward what lies ahead. It moves us out of a murky past and into a bright future. Refusal to forgive is committing to a life of bondage and slavery. Forgiveness is a commitment to freedom.

©Marie McGaha 2017
No reproduction without author's permission

Monday, August 7, 2017

Living With Sin

Then Amnon hated her with very great hatred, so that the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her. And Amnon said to her, “Get up! Go!”
~2 Samuel 13:15

As if it wasn't bad enough to have raped his own sister, once Amnon was finished with her, he tossed her out as if she were a common whore. And he "hated" her as if what had just happened was Tamar's fault. Tamar then had to live out her days, not as a king's daughter in the palace but as a broken woman in her brother, Absolom's house.

The violation of her body was something that would heal but the violation to her life, to her very existance would last the rest of her life. But it wasn't only the violation of what her brother had stolen from her - her innocence, her virginity, the trust she'd had in him, and her ability to marry and have a family - there was also the violation from King David - her father.

What must it have felt like to know the man who raised you, loved you, cared for you, and was supposed to protect you refused to do so?

In Tamar's day, a woman did not leave her father's house until she was married. This was to protect her virtue and honor against any man who may try to seduce her, and to also prevent any gossip that may arise from anyone trying to hurt a woman's reputation. A woman's reputation, her virtue and honor was what she had to offer any future husband and it was her father's duty to ensure her safety and to bring justice for any violation. Even though King David was "very​ angry" (v. 21), he did nothing.

Poor Tamar. She was forced to live with such violation of her body, heart & mind. So much so that the Bible says she "put ashes on her head and tore the long robe that she wore. And she laid her hand on her head and went away, crying aloud as she went" (v. 19). And she "lived, a desolate woman, in her brother Absalom's house" (v. 20). Tamar was forced to live with what happened to her but she also had to live with the sins of her brother and her father.

Sin has consequences for everyone involved, even those who have no part in committing the sin but are, nevertheless, it's victim. There are physical, mental, and spiritual repercussions for sin that spread like a ripple in a pond and touch everyone in our lives to some degree. We may think that the things we choose to do are our business and no one has a right to tell us what to do, but our choices always affect others. Even the secret sins eventually come out and touch the lives of others. No matter how sneaky we think we are, or how good we keep secrets, our sin will find us out (Numbers 32:23).

Sin violates the very core of who we are and who we hope to become. Sin is never a single entity but rather, has its own group of friends. No matter the sin, it's center is betrayal, lies, and mistrust. Sin spreads like a black, sticky mess you can't wipe away and adheres to everything you touch. Sin affects every area of life​ and can sever friendships, marriages, and family ties. It can cost finances, homes, and careers. It can end relationships, bright futures, and the very lives of those we love most. Sin leads to to death in every aspect.

Sin - the cause,
Christ - the cure!

©Marie McGaha 2017
No reproduction without author's permission

Friday, August 4, 2017

Sin Separates Us From God

"When King David heard all this, he was furious. And Absalom never said a word to Amnon, either good or bad; he hated Amnon because he had disgraced his sister Tamar."
~2 Samuel 13:21-23 (NIV)

We see two different reactions to the news that Amnon had raped his sister Tamar. Absolom kept his mouth shut & David was furious. It doesn't mean Absalom was any less furious than David, we just see two men handling a situation in two different ways.

King David had many children with many different women. So I imagine being a parent to all of those children while also being king of Israel was difficult but I had 12 kids, so I know how hard it is to raise a brood like that. On the other hand, I also know what it's like to be a working mom and still raise kids. So the fact that David was king of Israel should have nothing to do with his parenting skills, or lack thereof. The Bible tells us that David was furious but later on in other chapters, we see David did nothing. He did not speak to Amnom, he did not correct Amnom, and he certainly did not punish Amnon. In those days, according to the Torah, the punishment for what Amnon had done to Tamar was death. Perhaps knowing this, David simply could not bring himself to make the charge against his own son -- his first born son, the one who would presumably become king after David's death. Whatever the case was, David made a grave mistake here.

Not only did Absalom wind up killing Amnon, Absolom wound up trying to stage a coup and being killed. David lost two sons and his daughter spent her days a broken woman.

When it comes to sin we must correct it quickly. Sin has devastating effects on our lives, the lives of those we live with, the lives of those we love, and the lives of those who have to deal with us on a daily basis.

Allowing sin to continue without saying something, and to continue in the sin that we are committing, allows that sin to continue to grow into something ugly, and the effects can be devastating to everyone.

David made some huge mistakes in his life and every time he did, it cost him the life of one of his children.  Our punishment in life may not be as devastating as losing a child, however as long as we continue in sin we are going to lose something. We will lose people in our lives, maybe not by death but by them walking away and leaving us because they cannot continue watching what we are doing. And then, in our sin we are also separated from Jesus Christ -- and that is the most devastating blow of all.

©Marie McGaha 2017
No reproduction without author's permission

Monday, July 31, 2017

The End Times, The Rapture, & The Tribulation

Pastor Irvin Baxter's associate & son-in-law, Dave Robbins explains Revelation & Daniel's 70 weeks.
Common Rapture Misconceptions

September 23, 2017: Signs In The Sky?

There has been a lot of hype about what's going to happen on September 23rd of this year when the constellations move into a certain pattern. These are rumors and are being used simply to promote certain blogs and basically, this is another Y2K.

It is not the sign of the Rapture. It is not a sign of the end of days. It is simply an occurrence in the constellations. This goes on all of the time. Our stars move, our planets move, the sun moves... this is a well-known fact that goes back thousands of years. Simply because some of the constellations move in a certain pattern hundreds of years apart, and this is the first time that we get to see them, does not mean it is the Great Day of the Lord.

Some are using Revelation 12:1-2 "And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth," as the basis for claiming that this is the Rapture. This verse is actually a picture if Israel with the 12 stars being the 12 tribes, and the woman giving birth to a man child is a picture of Messiah - Jesus coming out of Israel. 

If we take a look at Matthew 24:29-31, we read Jesus' words explaining when He will return. "Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other." 

Notice He says, "immediately after the tribulation." And we know the tribulation is seven years long with the last 3.5 years being the great tribulation. The first 3.5 years, Israel is protected but during the last 3.5 years we will all experience the horrible things to come. Christians will not be spared the tribulation until the last trumpet sounds and Christ returns. The we will meet Him in the air and be with Him forever

(1 Thessalonians 4:13-17).

There is simply not enough time for everything to occur biblically before September. Read the Bible, study under someone who knows more than I do and pray for God to reveal Himself to you. I suggest Irvin Baxter's Understanding The Endtimes. The videos are also available on YouTube.

You can watch Pastor Baxter explain about the above topic when I asked him on the air. September 23 about 13.5 minutes in.

Another excellent resource is Rabbi Schneider at Discovering The Jewish Jesus. Rabbi has some excellent videos on YouTube as well.

Friday, July 28, 2017


For I know the plans that I have in mind for you,” declares Adonai, “plans for shalom and not calamity—to give you a future and a hope.

~Jeremiah 29:11 (TLV)

A familiar verse that we all know and have probably used. But when life takes a hard left, do we believe God? Do we trust His word? Sometimes, it takes a little time and distance in order for us to see God's hand in our lives. Sometimes, the event causing the stress seems so big in our eyes, it's difficult to see that God can be anywhere around.

"Now we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28, TLV)."

With time and distance, we can see how God works in our lives. Even the things that threaten to destroy our faith, bodies, minds, health, families, and the very structure of our existance can be used to change and improve who we are.

I was born with a bone disease and by the age of 34, I was in a wheelchair. I couldn't walk more than a few steps because my left hip had disintegrated. Over the next two years, I had surgeries on both hips and after a year, I could walk on a walker, and then a cane. But I hated that year in a wheelchair. I hated being "disabled." I had five kids still at home and everyone's life changed when mine did. Of course, I felt sorry for myself. I also felt angry. My body had betrayed me, my life had stopped, or so I thought, and God had let me down. I had prayed for healing: I had been prayed for by countless people who had annointed me with oil and laid hands on me. God didn't heal me.

Didn't I even have faith the size of a mustard seed (Matthew 17:20)? I thought my faith was strong. I was an ordained minister; I'd been all over the country preaching in jails, prisons, churches, and biker clubs. I'd seen people healed, saved, and their lives changed, surely I had some measure of faith! So if God heard and answered my prayers for others, why not for my own body?

While in the wheelchair, with husband at work and kids in school, I was bored out of my mind. At that time, the state had some great college grants for people like me, so I enrolled. I had nothing particular in mind, so I took classes that interested me--water exercises, English literature, sign language, and I found a class on grief. Having lost our 16-year-old daughter a few years earlier, I was interested. Not only did that class rip my heart out over and over, it changed the course of my life. I went on to get a degree in counseling with specialty certifications in grief counseling and addiction. And some 25 years later, that certification list has grown as I continue my education to this day.

God took a situation that I hated, didn't understand, had left me in extreme pain and used it not only for my good, the good of others but also for His glory. Without that wheelchair, I wouldn't have gone to college when I did. I wouldn't have become a counselor. I wouldn't have worked in prisons, for probation and parole, I wouldn't have started groups for addicts, abused women, or grief support. My life, and hopefully, the lives of others, were changed because God had a plan for my future that I couldn't have imagined or seen with a telescope.

When we look at our life situations, we can only see the moment in front of us but when we look to God, we allow Him to intervene on a level that only He can imagine.

"These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have shalom. In the world you will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world!” 
~John 16:33

©Marie McGaha 2017

No reproduction without author's permission

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

No Excuses

Romans 1:20-21 (TLV)
"His invisible attributes—His eternal power and His divine nature—have been clearly seen ever since the creation of the world, being understood through the things that have been made. So people are without excuse— for even though they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God or give Him thanks. Instead, their thinking became futile, and their senseless hearts were made dark."

Have you ever noticed that people who say they don't believe in God are the first ones that use His name in vain, and they're also the first ones that want prayer when something goes wrong in life? I'm not talking about just atheists but all non-believers, or at least all of those who profess that they don't really believe in God.

We are made in God's image. All human beings are made in God's image. A God-shaped hole was placed inside of us when we were created and the only thing that is going to fill the God-shaped hole within us is God Himself. We all have a natural instinct to run to daddy when something goes wrong. As children we run to our Earthly fathers but as adults that need deep within us to run to our father was put there by God for us to run to Him.

All of creation, including us, know there is a God. We have to work really hard to avoid God and to avoid our belief that there is a God. I remember back in my younger days when I was trying to "find" myself and figure out things, I started practicing Wicca, which is mostly just a bunch of tree huggers who refuse to believe that God is God, and want to believe in Mother Earth and all of that kind of stuff that's really just purely stupid. It took physical work for me to believe in this Pagan practice of Wicca. It didn't give me any sense of fulfillment, it didn't give me any sense of worshipping something greater than I am; and isn't that what we're all looking for -- Something higher than we are, something greater than we are, some meaning to our existence? I didn't find it by burning candles, or waving a knife around, or looking up at the full moon.

Psalm 42:7 tells us that deep calls to deep, that is, the Spirit of God calls to our spirit because there are things that only the spirit can understand. There are things that only the spirit can relate to, and the only thing that our spirit can truly relate to is the Spirit of God.

He is the vine and we are the branches, apart from Him we can do nothing (John 15:5). So is it any wonder that so many lives are in disarray? Is there any wonder that the world is as upside down as it is today? We try so hard to do things on our own when we weren't created to do things on our own. We were created to do things through the power of God. When Adam and Eve were created in the Garden of Eden, they walked with God and talked with God on a regular basis. We were created in God's image to be a friend of God, to commune with God, to be part of the perfect world He created in the Garden of Eden. With that failing, God created the perfect Sacrifice so that we would not have to do things under our own power; so we would not have to follow the ruined nature of man. He sent Jesus Christ, the fleshly embodiment of God Himself, to be a pure sacrifice for us so that we could come back to the perfect relationship that was originally created in the Garden of Eden.

God simplified all of the Law and the Prophets so that we would not have to do anything under our own power, except confess that Jesus Christ is Lord and accept Him as our Lord and Savior. That's all we have to do and Jesus Christ does the rest. Anyone who does not do that is missing out on the most basic part of human nature and that is God within us. We fill that God-shaped hole with everything except God, and when it doesn't fit we move on to the next thing. But nothing is ever going to fill that void because God is the only One who can fill that void.

God came to Earth in the flesh of Jesus Christ to fill that void, to be the propitiation for our sins, to be everything that we cannot be on our own. He came as a sacrifice for our sins against Himself, to keep our very souls until the day that we are in Heaven with Him forever. He is not looking for perfect people, He is looking for faithful people.

©Marie McGaha 2017
No reproduction without author's permission

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

You're Gonna Die

1 Corinthians 15:41-44 (TLV)
"There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory.
So also is the resurrection of the dead:
Sown in corruption, raised in incorruption!
Sown in dishonor, raised in glory!
Sown in weakness, raised in power!
Sown a natural body, raised a spiritual body!
If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body."

Most people don't like to think about it, but we are all going to die. You are going to die, your mom is going to die, your children are going to die. When a loved one dies, even though we know death is a natural process and the end of life, we're never really ready for it to happen. Death is painful for us even if it's the death of a grandmother or grandfather who have lived out their lives and died at a ripe old age. Death is never easy for us to accept.

I have had a lot of deaths in my life. When I was 19 my first born son, Eric, died, and in 1992 my sixteen-year-old daughter Cassandra died. In between those years I lost grandparents, cousins, aunts, and uncles, and since then I have lost a husband and several grandchildren. Death is never easy and grief can be overwhelming. But we have to find our way through it and continue to live even in dark days when we don't want to. Life goes on whether we want it to or not.

As painful as death is when we lose a loved one, we can be comforted in the knowledge that if they were a Christian and loved the Lord, they are now in heaven. It is only through the grace of God and the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ that we can get through this life, and especially get through the loss of life as we continue our walk each and every day.

Sometimes death makes absolutely no sense and we look for someone to blame. But when we are in Christ Jesus, we realize that there is no one to blame. Death is a fact of life and it is no respecter of persons. While the grief of losing a child is much different than the grief of losing a husband, which is much different than losing a grandparent or a parent, the sense of loss and the questions of why still remain. But when we are grounded in the word of God, we know that death is not the end because we know that our spirits live on, and while life on planet Earth may be over, life in heaven has just begun. We have the promises of the Bible that even though death comes to all, there is life in the Spirit and there is a reward for our faith in Jesus Christ. That reward is living forever in heaven, and the promise that we will see our loved ones again.

©Marie McGaha 2017
No reproduction without author's permission

Monday, July 24, 2017

Where's Your Focus?

Focus your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.
~Colossians 3:2 (TLV)

Focus is everything. Our eyes focus depending on available light so we can see better. We have to stay focused at work in order to complete the daily tasks and keep the boss happy. We hear about staying focused in life from the time we start school. Stay focused and keep your eye on the prize whether it's graduating with a degree, getting a driver's license, or our dream car. Life is all about focus. So why do so many lives seem to fall off track?

The verse above explains it. We are to focus on the things above - the things of God through Jesus Christ rather than the things of this world. When we focus on Christ first, keeping His ways always in sight, we will have the "desires of (our) heart" (Psalm 37:4).

Too many people seek their own praise and glory instead of seeking God. Matthew 6:33 tells us to first seek God and His righteousness, and then everything else will be added to our lives.

Too many times we get bogged down in doing life on planet Earth that we forget about afterlife on planet Jesus. Our jobs, spouses, kids, friends, all can take our focus off Jesus and keep it on our mortal lives. Even our ministries can bog us down in the doing of them if we aren't taking time to be alone with the Lord and allow Him to both center us and be the center of us.

And finally, (sisters), "whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."
~Philippians 4:8

©Marie McGaha 2017
No reproduction without author's permission

Friday, July 21, 2017

The Devil Didn't Make You Do It

Now the deeds of the flesh are clear: sexual immorality, impurity, indecency, idolatry, witchcraft, hostility, strife, jealousy, rage, selfish ambition, dissension, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, just as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit God’s kingdom. ~Galatians 5:19-21 (TLV)

When I get a follow request on Instagram, I always check out the requesters posts to determine who that person is because we all know social media profiles can be deceptive.

One day I received a request from a young lady whose profile said she was a Christian and initially, her profile backed that up. However, the next time I saw a post from her, it's a video of her in bed, covered with a sheet over one leg, coming up over her belly and barely covering her chest. She writhed around under the sheet while telling viewers she wanted to be 'friends'. It looked like an ad for a porn site.

I messaged her and asked why she would disrespect herself and God by posting such a video while professing to be a Christian. We chatted back and forth and she agreed with me and removed the video.

A few weeks later she posted some other sexual pictures of herself and commented about drinking at the clubs, and picking up some guy. I messaged her again. This time her response was, "I'm only human and I sin. I'm not perfect but that's what God is for."

My responses were Scripture on sin, sinning, righteousness and Holiness. Her answers weren't rude but she was not happy and said I must be taking the verses out of context because there was no way we could be expected not to sin.

Funny how we can justify our lives to make what we are doing seem right in our own sight. Proverbs 14:12 says, 'there is a way that seems right to man but it's end is death.' Justifying our sin might make us feel better and it might make others nod in understanding but it still won't fly with God.

"Be holy for I am holy," is what God tell us in 1 Peter 1:16. God is perfect and even though we are not, He sent a perfect sacrifice to atone for our sins - Jesus Christ. It is through faith in HIM that we are justified, sanctified and made righteous but we must also work out our salvation with 'fear and trembling' (Philippians 2:12). Jesus said, Go and sin no more," (John 8:11) after saving the adultress from being stoned to death.

Colossians 3:5-6 tells us to put "to death" our earthly, or carnal, natures, which tells us we have control over those things. It's not the devil, demons, or any other outward influence that causes us to sin, it's our own sinful nature. But through the power of the Holy Spirit we have power over sin and death (1 Corinthians 15:57).

©Marie McGaha 2017
No reproduction without author's permission

Thursday, July 20, 2017

What Happened to Godly Marriages?

Proverbs 30:18-19 (TLV)
"Three things are too amazing for me, four I do not understand: the way of an eagle in the sky,
the way of a serpent upon a rock, the way of a ship in the heart of the sea, and the way of a man with a maiden."

This verse always makes me chuckle. Written so long ago, yet that last part is still true today. Do you remember how your husband acted before he was your husband? How it was between you those first glorious months of wedded bliss? We can all get a little silly when we first fall in love and all those endorphins and pheromones are zinging around inside of us. They don't call it 'crazy, stupid love' for nothing! But marriage is more than pheromones and romantic walks together. While those things are wonderful, a relationship with the opposite sex has to be founded on more than physical attraction. Yet we see marriages continually ending in divorce, even among Christians. The divorce rate is now 53% even among church-going Christians. What has happened to our marriages?

The Bible tells us a husband will "cleave unto his wife" (Genesis 2:24), and "the two shall become one" (Mark 10:8). A relationship nothing less than death can separate (Matthew 10:9). So how are so many Christians winding up divorced?

Of course there is no one single answer but a good clue is in the world around us - the less important Jesus becomes in our lives, the less we act like Him and the more we act like the world around us. The less important Christ is, the less important our lives and relationships become. The less we come to church, more of the world seeps into every area of our lives. Contrarily, when our focus is fully on our relationship with Jesus the less world we will see in our lives and relationships.

Our marriages were created as a triangle with God at the top point, and spouses at the other two points. Inside the triangle is everything else - home, kids, jobs, finances, friends etc. With spouses at the bottom points, you have no choice but to keep looking up.

©Marie McGaha 2017
No reproduction without author's permission

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Who Are You?

"There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female—for you are all one in Messiah Yeshua." ~Galatians 3:28 (TLV)

The Who sang, "Who are you? Who? I really wanna know. Who are you?" That is something we tend to to turn inward and question about ourselves from an early age. We spend our younger years trying to 'find' ourselves, acting one way or another, dressing this way or that, trying to belong, to be popular or cool, and hopefully, we figure out we are who we are and don't waste our entire lives being something else.

God made each of us individually for a reason. He has never looked for cookie cutter people, or cookie cutter Christians. He gave each of us a personality different from others, yet complimentary to others. He gave us different talents, likes, dislikes, etc but He intended each of us to use those talents to glorify Him and to help one another. But often, we can see the talents and wonders in others though not ourselves.

1 Peter 4:10 says, "As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of the many-sided grace of God."

Your gifts are the talents, abilities, desires to do something in particular. The fact that you may not have the resources to achieve what God has placed inside you to do doesn't mean it's impossible, for "all things are possible with God" (Matthew 19:26). Whatever God has begun within you, He will complete if you don't give up.

I have a friend, Sue, who had the desire to help women who were addicts. She wanted to open a residential facility that not only dealt with the addiction, but also taught women the fullness of the love of Jesus. She had no formal training and no resources to accomplish her goals but she had a vision she wouldn't let go of. Instead of focusing on what she didn't have, she focused on what she knew to be true - God brings to completion whatever He begins (Philippians 1:6).

Sue tackled one thing at a time. First, she enrolled in the local community college to get her degree in addiction studies, then she began seeking those who were like-minded and could help her toward her goal. And she continued in faith and prayer to believe God would complete the task. It didn't happen overnight and it wasn't always easy to get others to see her vision, but Sue persevered. Now, more than 25 years later, she is the founder of Streams of Living Waters in Humboldt County, California and has helped hundreds of women get clean and sober and to become the women of God they were created to be.

No matter your circumstances, there is a higher calling on your life. No matter who says you can't, God says you can. He has made you capable and stronger than you think you can be. He has equipped and empowered you to be a mighty woman of God who can change the lives of others.

©Marie McGaha 2017
No reproduction without author's permission

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Practice Patience

Ephesians 4:32 (TLV)
"Instead, be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving each other just as God in Messiah also forgave you."

The other day I was listening to my grandchildren having an argument over something and call each other names, and hurt each other's feelings, and then somebody started crying and came running to Nana. I sat them down to have a talk with them about the way they spoke to one another. I told them if I didn't know they were brother and sister and actually loved each other, I would think that they really hated being together. Megan told me that he was just a little brother who bothered her all of the time and she just couldn't stand it. Dax told me that she was a big sister who is always mean to him.

I began explaining to them the way Jesus says we should treat one another and how we should always love one another, and speak kindly, show kindness, and be gentle with one another. I asked if they talk to their friends like that, and they told me they were nice to their friends. I asked them why that was and they said because if they weren't nice to their friends, their friends wouldn't play with them.

And I got to thinking about how sometimes it is easier to be kind towards people we don't know and how it can sometimes be difficult to be kind towards the people we live with every day.

No one can aggravate me more than my husband. Sometimes I think he enjoys aggravating me and
does it on purpose!  We can get on one another's nerves once in awhile and sometimes we say harsh things that we don't really mean. In our frustration, the people closest to us are often the ones that see the worst side of us.

It's a terrible thing to think that we are kinder to strangers because we don't want them to see our bad side, the side we don't mind showing to our family every single day. But that isn't how God wants us to treat anyone especially not our families. Jesus was an example to each and everyone of us to be patient, kind, loving, generous, patient, patient, patient...

I get very impatient when I'm driving - people in other cars just seem to do that to me. So thinking about the verse above, I began this little habit of saying, 'practice patience, practice patience, practice patience,' until it makes me laugh and I can continue without feeling frustrated. So I started doing that when I feel frustrated with other people at home or wherever I might be. I want to practice patience in all things, but especially with the ones I love.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Be A Josiah

"Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the Lord as he did—with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with all the Law of Moses."
~2 Kings 23:25

Josiah's father was an evil king, as were most of his predecessors. They had ignored the word of God, they had allowed the people to build altars to false gods, and they had allowed the sacrificing of children to Molek to continue, as well as the worship of idols. Not only were the people doing this but the temple priests followed the same path. However, when Josiah read the Book of the Lord, he realized the sin going on in the country and put a stop to it. Josiah followed the Lord in a way no king since David had, and he led his people back to the Lord.

We are all like the children of Israel who turn our backs on the one true God, the Lord of Heaven and Earth, the one who created all things, and we follow the false gods of this world. Whatever Idols we follow whether it be money, our jobs, fame, success, or any of the other things that do not glorify God, the one true God, we are following false gods. That can also include our spouses and our children. Our families can become our Idols as well. Anything that we put before the Lord of the universe is a false god.

Getting our priorities straight is something we hear a lot about. But in a worldly way, getting our priorities straight is still not a Biblical view of priorities. Our priorities have to begin with Jesus Christ. He has to be first in our lives for everything else to fall into place. When Jesus Christ comes first in our lives and we put away all of our idols, then our lives begin to make sense in a way they never have before.

There are many things in this world that are upside down. Everything from religion to politics to personal lives to world views, are upside down. We look at the things going on in the world and shake our heads wondering how it came to this, but the truth is, it's always been like this. The only reason it seems worse now is because we have a wider view of the world than we ever had before. We have the technology that gives us a view completely around the world and that was something we never saw before. In the past,  we only heard the Nightly News that reported just the top points but glossed over the true tragedies of the world. The world today is quite literally the same way that it was when Josiah was king, we just have more toys.

The other thing that has not changed is God is still God. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever and He is still looking for the Josiahs of this world who will stand up for what is right, for what is true, who are willing to knock down the idols of this world, and proclaim the Living God, Jesus Christ is the only one worthy of our worship.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Purity & Modesty

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age ~Titus 2:11-12

Purity and modesty seem irrelevant in today's society. Both men & women wear less clothes in public than what was once worn in private. Appearing scantily clad or even nude in magazines and on TV is the norm for models & actors these days. And what performers are doing on stage these days would've gotten them arrested 50 years ago!

Our lives are inundated with a perverted idea of 'sexy', and our children are exposed to it from a very early age. But this idea of dressing and behaving in a way that entices and invites is not part of God's plan.

As people of God, we are to model decency, modesty, and purity in our lives, in dress and in actions. From the way we dress to the way we speak, we are to model Jesus for the world to see. After all, if we look like the world and talk like the world and act like the world, how will the world see Christianity as anything different than everything else in the world?

Unless there is true conversion of the heart, there cannot be conversion of life. We cannot be Christians by words only; Christianity involves our entire being. It is a complete change from our old lives into a brand new being, much like a caterpillar becoming a butterfly.

1 Peter 1:14 tells us "As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance..."

What message about Jesus does your life send to others? Does your speech glorify Him? Does your way of dress respect Him? Do your actions emulate Him?

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The Sin of Cover-up

And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
~Hebrews 4:13

Recently, on 60 Second Scripture, I read from 2 Corinthians 5:10, "we must all appear before the Judgment seat of Christ so that everyone may receive what is due him for the things done in the body, whether good or evil."

This got me to thinking about our current passage in Hebrews. Everything we say, everything we do, everything in our hearts, every thought in our heads, is known to God; there is nothing that He does not see no matter how well we think we hide it.

Our nature is to hide from the truth. From the time we are small children if we are asked what we have done wrong, we will say 'nothing' and look guilty while trying to look at the ground or anywhere but up at our parents. We are the same way with God. We try to pretend that everything is alright in our life, but we cannot look at God and say we have done nothing wrong. We continue to try to hide things from childhood on through adulthood, either because we know what we have done is wrong, or because we are ashamed of what we have done, and because we really don't want others to see us for who we really are.

But God knows who we really are, after all, He created us. He knew us before we were formed in our mother's womb, He knows the beginning from the end, and whatever we are going to do in life, He has already seen.

Even in our Christian walk there are things that we like to hide from others, and from God. We don't want people to know how we act at home with our spouses, that we get angry and yell at them sometimes, or say things we shouldn't, or say hurtful things to our children. We don't want anyone to know those dirty parts of our lives that we try to pretend don't really exist. The problem with hiding those things is that eventually, they come to light for everyone to see. But mostly, God sees them as they occur, and in fact, God knows they're going to happen before we even open our mouths.

We see many accounts of this in the Bible from Jonah and the incident with the whale to King David when he had Bathsheba's husband sent into battle to die so he could cover up the affair he had with her.

We are a deceitful people. We want to run from God, we want to hide the truth, we like doing things in the dark so that no one knows or sees what we are doing; we like to whisper so no one can hear us; we like to say things behind people's backs; there truly is nothing good within us. At least not on our own.

If we go down a few verses in Hebrews, 5:16 says, "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in the time of need."

There's a lot of sin in this world & we see it all around us. Every day on the news we see sin abounding, but I don't think there's a greater sin than the sin of cover up. We're trying to hide something that can't be hidden, at least not from God, and not even from others because eventually, our sin finds us out. So I ask you today to examine your heart to see if there's anything that you're trying to hide from God, and from others. If there is, confess your sin to God, confess the cover-up, ask Him to forgive you because He is gracious and full of mercy, and He will answer that prayer. He will forgive us anything. No matter how dark the deed may seem to us, it's already been seen by God and there's no reason not to ask Him to forgive us.

Don't let sin, or the sin of cover-up, rob you of your salvation because that's what it can do. Sin is like a sore, it festers up. It's like that flesh-eating disease, once it starts, it just multiplies and drags us farther from God.

God loves you so much. It's one of those kind of loves that here on Earth we think we can imagine it by thinking of how much we love our own children, but our love for our children doesn't even come close to the love that God has for us. So don't let yourself be separated from the love of God because you're caught up in the sin of cover-up. I pray in Jesus'' name that each and every one of us will bring all of our deeds to light, ask God to forgive us, and to continue forward, walking in the light and the love Jesus Christ, Amen.

Monday, July 10, 2017

At Just the Right Age

In the twenty-seventh year of Jeroboam king of Israel, Azariah son of Amaziah king of Judah began to reign. He was sixteen years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-two years.  ~2 Kings 15:1-2a

Age has nothing to do with your ability to serve God. Whether you are a kid or in your golden years, you can serve God. God is no respecter of persons, and He doesn't care what the calendar says. God only cares about your heart. God only cares if you have accepted His Son Jesus, and if you are willing to go where He leads you. You are never unable to serve God no matter your age. From the youngest child to the oldest person, there is still something living within you that can further the Kingdom of God.

At my church in Oklahoma there is the sweetest lady in the world who I love dearly, who came to the Lord and was baptized when she was 89 years old. What an amazing testament to the saving grace of God.

You are never too old to serve God, and you are never too young. God can use you wherever you are, no matter your age, no matter your physical abilities, those things mean nothing to the God we serve. All He is looking for is a willing heart, someone He can use, someone who will step out and speak the words given by the Holy Spirit.

God is not forceful. He will never make you do anything you don't want to do. God is looking for those of us who are willing, no matter what our backgrounds are, no matter our education, no matter our circumstances, God is able to use each and every one of us. But it is up to us.

One of my favorite verses is from Isaiah 6:8: And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.”

In 1994 the Lord ask me that question and I said, "Yes Lord, send me." And He did and I've never regretted it. I continue to this day to go where the Lord sends me, to say what He wants me to say, and do what He wants me to do. And over those years I have suffered a lot of physical problems. I've had three hip surgeries, I've had a hysterectomy, I've had neck surgery and the list goes on with cataracts, arthritis... you name it, I seem to have it. But my physical being is of no consequence because all that matters to me is the Kingdom of God, and getting the word about Jesus Christ and salvation out because this world as we know it is coming to an end very soon. Jesus is coming back and people need to know what lies beyond that. Even if Jesus wasn't physically coming back, we are all going to die, we are all going to stand before our Lord and Maker. Everyone of us are going to have to answer for what we did on Earth, for the words of our mouth, for our actions, for everything that we have done. We are going to have to answer for that. But if we know Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we don't have to worry about those things because they are forgiven, because the devil has no power over us, and even though he is our accuser before God, Jesus is our Victor. He is our advocate, the One who is on our side, and He is the One who is going to tell Satan to shut up and leave us alone. He's the One who's going to tell the Father that we belong to Him.

You are not too old. You're not too young. You are just right. And now is the right time to stand up and say, "Yes Lord, whatever you want, I will go for you."

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Everything Is All Right

"Run to meet her and ask her, ‘Are you all right? Is your husband all right? Is your child all right?’”

“Everything is all right,” she said.
~ 2 Kings 4:26

This is the story of the Shunammite woman who was old when Elijah told her that she was going to give birth to a son and she did. When he was a child he died. The woman went to where Elijah was, and as the story turns out, Elijah did the same as his mentor Elijah had done, and laid across the boy and the boy came back to life.

I have lost a son, a daughter, and several grandchildren. There's nothing more difficult for a mother than to lose her child. No love is greater,  and no heartbreak is worse  for a woman but the Shunammite woman, who should have been in a panic, who should have been wailing, crying and grieving over her lost child did none of those things.

Instead, she went to the prophet who had told her she would have a son and when she was greeted and asked how everything was, she did not cry and say,  "My son is dead," she said,  "Everything is all right." It reminds me of David whose infant son died. (2 Samuel 12:16-23) He fasted and prayed while the son was sick but when the baby died, he got up and ate and everyone asked, 'why aren't you grieving, this child is dead' and David said,  "he cannot return to me but one day I'll go and be with him."

I'm also reminded of Job, who, after having lost everything that he held dear, said, "The Lord gives and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord." (Job 1:21)

It's important for us to remember as followers of Jesus Christ, as believers in God, that no matter what happens, if we are faithful and we truly believe that our steps are directed by the Lord, no matter how disastrous it may seem, no matter what we may lose, no matter how low it may seem that we are going, no matter if we lose everything that we hold dear, we can still be like the Shunammite woman and say, "Everything is all right."

"Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul

It is well (it is well)
With my soul (with my soul)
It is well, it is well with my soul" (Audrey Assad)

Psalm 46:1-3 – God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof.

Friday, July 7, 2017

You Are Not Forsaken

“And they will call them, “The holy people, the redeemed of the LORD”; and you will be called, “Sought out, a city not forsaken.” Isaiah 62:12, NASB

I have been through a lot. I was sexually abused as a child, I was physically & emotionally abused in a relationship when I was young, I've abused drugs & alcohol, and I've been about as low as a person can go. I spent years blaming myself & others, beating myself up, feeling guilty, being angry, and finally learning to move on but the one thing I couldn't do was deal with others who spoke about similar struggles.

I guess it brought back too many painful memories, thoughts, emotions, and perhaps, it was a form of PTSD. However, God kept placing people in front of me who had the same life experiences I did, and I told God I just couldn't deal with other people's problems. Then, due to a genetic birth defect, I wound up in a wheelchair for a year before undergoing two painful hip surgeries. Sitting in a wheelchair gave me a new perspective on life. It also gave me something else, humility.

I never thought myself to be prideful but in the midst of learning to overcome my own demons, I had actually begun to act as if I had done something more or better than others. I had come out of the darkness. I had pulled myself out of the gutter. I had pulled myself up by the boot straps. I was strong. I was brave. I faced my demons, stood my ground and backed them down. Thereby, others who didn't overcome their problems were weak.

God had a sit-down with me. A year long sit-down where I struggled just to get from room to room. I was also attending the local community college, which had lovely hilly grounds, and I wasn't in a powered wheelchair. Life was a struggle in a very real physical sense. After two hip surgeries, I was on a walker, and then a cane.

The process took about two full years. I hated everything about my disabilities. But God used that time to teach me that while I had been responsible for making the decision to get out, to come through the darkness rather than be consumed by it, my strength came from Him. Even the decision to come to God was from His Holy Spirit. And that without Him, I would still be wallowing in that gutter.

While I had the desire, it was from God, but more than that. He wanted to use the work He began in me to bring others to a place where they could also reach others. It was not a singular event, a blessing for my life but a manifold blessing that had the potential to reach thousands of women who were just like me.

There is no 'me' in Jesus, but there is an 'us' and like Jesus, we aren't here to walk alone but to bring others along while we walk with Him. No matter what you are dealing with or have come through, you have not been forsaken. Your story is powerful, and you have an amazing ability to overcome through the Blood of Christ. He makes us brave and strong and able to pass on to others the strength to overcome every situation, every demon, every nightmare, and wake up in the bright & glorious light of God's love.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Be Who God Meant You To Be

Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV)
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

You were never meant to be stuck in the past, or in your present situation. You are meant to learn from these things & take steps forward. We sometimes get bogged down in our situations, either past or present, and lose our future focus. Jeremiah 29:11 tells us God has given us hope and a future but to enjoy this promise, our future has to be focused on Jesus Christ.

When driving a car, our focus has to be on the road. If we get distracted by cell phones, text messages, children fighting in the back seat, or by something we see along the way, there can be disastrous results.

The same applies to our personal lives. There are so many things that distract us. For that matter, life IS one big distraction. We are busy people with jobs, spouses, kids, grandkids, family and friends. We spread ourselves too thin, and we get frustrated. Even when we think we have it all together, some little thing can pop up and throws it all off balance.
Our past hurts, fears, and frustrations can crop up at the least expected moment and throw us into chaos.

We lose focus.

However, when we submit our lives to Jesus and keep our focus on Him, He becomes our sails, rudder, and anchor no matter how rough the seas of life can get.

You are more than your past. You are more than your experiences. You are meant to have a full life, so take a breath, focus, and take that first step to be the you God created you to be.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Practice Love

Romans 12:17-21(ESV)
Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
1 Peter 3:9 (ESV)
Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.

It seems to be human nature to want to lash out at those who hurt us. If someone cuts us off while driving, we want express our feelings, and usually in a negative way. If someone yells, we yell back. If our spouse gets mad, we get mad back. We repay in kind, yet that is not how the Bible teaches us to respond.

In the early years of our marriage, my husband and I fought a lot. We are both control freaks, me moreso because I had raised children as a single mom, ran my own business, and I took care of everything as both mom and dad. My husband had never married or lived with another person, and had no children. He was a bachelor who did things his way, when he wanted, how he wanted and answered to no one.

We butted heads regularly. If I got mad, he went ballistic. If he got mad, I felt guilty. Our arguments were epic, and within two years, we were considering divorce. We loved one another but we could not communicate rationally. It wasn't looking good to say the least.

I didn't want a divorce and I only knew one thing to do - pray like never before. I cried out to God to show me how to deal with this man, but also, how to treat him and how to react differently. I couldn't change him but I could change me. I prayed that God would give me the same kind of love for my husband that Christ had for me. That all-encompassing, all-forgiving, Agape love of God toward my husband. And I asked God to give me joy in loving him, and joy in our marriage, and joy no matter what. I also prayed - God, please show me how to deal with this man before I kill him!

You know the saying "bite your tongue"? I literally bit my tongue every time I wanted to repay his words or actions in kind. I took a breath and remembered my prayer. I silently reminded God of my prayers and that I needed an answer now! God answered those desperate prayers in a way that I didn't expect.

He gave me laughter. Every time I was about to jump into the fight, I laughed. I couldn't help it. And it was laughter that bubbled up from deep inside me and I couldn't stop it. The first time it happened, my husband looked at me like I'd lost my mind. Then he got offended and left. When he returned, he was in a better mood. Every time afterwards, when he got mad, I laughed. Loudly! And then a strange thing began to happen, the anger in me disappeared (who can be mad and laugh?) but it also began to lessen in my husband. His fits became fewer and farther in between. And when he did get mad and I laughed, he began to laugh too!

Years later he asked me why I started laughing at him and I told him I wasn't laughing at him, I was filled with laughter from God. I told him about the prayer I'd prayed when I was at my wit's end and how God had answered me. I was filled with laughter but it came from the overwhelming love Christ had for me and had filled me with for my husband. We celebrated 17 years of marriage recently, and I'm still laughing.

How we relate to people is a choice. How we respond to people is a choice. When we choose to follow Jesus, we are choosing to act like Him. That goes against our sin nature, and it definitely goes against the way people today deal with one another. When we react in a godly way, it "heaps coals of fire" on the individual, but not literally of course. In ancient Egypt a person guilty of a crime carried a tray of hot coals on their heads to show repentance, so when we treat people as today's verses say, it will bring about repentance in them. Repentance means change, and change can save much more than just a marriage.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Do Not Be Conformed To The World

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him, 1 John 2:15 (NKJV).

We are called to be set apart for God and to not conform to the things of this world, however, it seems more and more that people who profess to be Christians look so much like the world it's hard to tell them apart.

Being a Christian is so much more than just saying, "I believe in Jesus." Being a Christian means following Jesus, and obeying the word of God. If our lives are going to change the lives of those who do not know the Lord, then our lives cannot be like the ones who do not know the Lord. We are called to be set apart, to be holy, to be pure in our speech, our dress, and our actions. We are called to be like Jesus, not like the world.

There is a way that seems right to man, but it's end is death (Proverbs 14:12).

Conforming to this world is doing the things of the world. Going to R-rated movies, drinking alcohol at the club with friends, dressing the way that people in this world dress, using vulgar speech, telling off-color jokes, participating in activities that everyone else does, having sex outside of marriage, living with someone you're not married to, and the list goes on. I know people who profess to be Christians who think nothing of going to the casino and gambling. I know people who profess to be Christians who still smoke and drink. On social media I see pictures with lots of cleavage, and more, that are posted by people who profess to be Christians. I see people who profess to be Christians conforming to the ways of this world by participating in the things of this world, by going along with things that the Bible strictly opposes, because when you don't take a stand against the world then you are standing for the world.

The Bible says, "Be holy for I am Holy" (1 Peter 1:16). That may seem impossible but it's not. We are not to conform to this world, we are to conform to what the Bible tells us is right and pure and holy. We might not achieve Holiness in this life but we are to strive for it. We are to put away the things of this world and to walk the walk and talk the talk the way that Jesus did.

Sitting in a church on Sunday does not make you a Christian any more than sitting in your garage makes you a car. Following Jesus and obeying the word of God is what makes you a Christian.

I hear people complaining all of the time that they go to church on Sunday yet their life is not blessed. Blessings do not come from sitting in a church. Blessings come from living out a Christian life every single day of the week. A Sunday Christian will not have a blessed life.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

The Root – The Shoot – The Fruit Marie McGaha

The Root – The Shoot – The Fruit
Marie McGaha

~ One ~
In The Vineyard

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.”
John 15:1-8

~ * ~

     My sitting room is decorated with wall hangings depicting vineyards, grapes, wine, and my favorite has this verse on it. Everything that I am as a Christian is in these eight verses. It defines who Christ is to us, who we are to Christ, and how we are to live as His children. I spend several minutes every day reading just these verses, and since I have to pass by the sitting room to get to the laundry room, I always take the time to pause and look at what I have chosen as my inspiration for not only the room, but for my life.
          I would like to be able to say that I have always used these verses as my guide in life but that just isn’t so. Like fine wine, I had to age a bit to be able to understand the simplicity of God’s word and how to apply it to my life. I wasn’t raised in a godly home but thankfully, I had a godly grandmother whose influence from those summer visits stayed with me.
          Life can be complicated and as such, I believe we make God and His word just as complicated. I know I did. However, after years of making a mess of my life, I finally decided there had to be a way to get through my years on earth that didn’t hurt quite so much. I came back to the One I knew had been there all my life even through the messes I had made, the trouble I had borrowed, the people I chose to associate with. God had never left nor forsaken me (Joshua 1:5), it was I who had left God. And although He had always been there, He did leave me to my own defenses until I finally gave up in the knowledge that my defenses were pretty flimsy at best.
          John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
          How quickly we tend to forget that kind of all-encompassing love! How quickly we pull away and try to do everything on our own, in our own way. We were never intended to live apart from God. We were never intended to be thrown under the bus of life. Quite the contrary, we were intended to live life fully. To live life loved beyond measure, (John 10:10). To live life safely in the arms of God.
               We were created in the image of God in both body (Genesis 1:27) and in spirit (Ephesians 4:24). We have a God-shaped hole inside of us, yet we spend our lives trying to fill that hole with everything but God! We use sex, drugs, alcohol, rock stars, movie stars, music, sports, fast cars, wealth, food, everything under Heaven except that which we were created for – God.
          None of the things of this world can fill that hole God created within us that yearns for Him. Romans 12:2 tells us to not be “conformed to this world,” yet, from the time we can crawl, we are fascinated by the things of the world. Not all are bad of course, it’s human to want things but it’s how we use them, and what we use them for, that defines its worth.
          Having money isn’t bad. We all need money to live but when money becomes all we think we need, and it becomes all we seek to have, our intentions have gone haywire and money has become our god.
          Listening to music isn’t bad. Music is pleasurable, relaxing, motivating and part of our being that God put inside of us. But when we begin identifying with lyrics that do not magnify the Lord, or draw our attention away from the important things in our lives, then we’ve made music our god.
          Food is a good thing. We need to eat to stay healthy but when we allow food to become our focus, our bodies begin to rebel. We gain weight, arteries harden, and diabetes can develop, along with heart problems, high cholesterol, and a myriad of other maladies. Food has become our god.
          The list goes on. Anything that takes our focus off of God is not good for us. Our spirit weakens, our lives get out of control, and we lose our sense of direction. God is our magnetic north and His Word is our compass. Anytime we allow ourselves to wander off of His course, the life path He has planned for each of us, our lives become something other than what God wants for us. In order to stay on course, we need to be firmly grounded in God’s Word. That is the root of our existence. Without a good root system, nothing grows strong.                   
          Anyone who has ever tried to grow plants, flowers, or a vegetable garden, knows that there is a process to getting what you want out of what you plant. When you grow plants, you expect green healthy stalks and leaves. With flowers, you expect tulips from tulip bulbs, roses from rosebushes, and from a vegetable garden, you expect each type of vegetable to produce its own fruit.
But you don’t just toss bulbs or seeds outside on the ground and wait for them to grow. You till up the ground, you might have to bring in good soil if you live in an area like I do. The ground is mostly rock, and what soil we have is red clay, so we had to build up garden beds and bring in soil to fill them. The soil has to have water and fertilizer to be healthy enough for the plants to develop a good root system. But they also have to have plenty of sunshine, which is why we plant in springtime and let the vegetables and flowers grow through the hot part of summer, and then harvest in early fall.
Another part of being a gardener is knowing when to prune. When I go out to water my garden, I check the plants to make sure there are no bugs eating them, no aphids present, and I have to sometimes prune back some of the leaves and branches so all the fruit can get plenty of sunshine. Our spirits are like that too. If we don’t get plenty of God, His Word, and fellowship with other Christians, we become like the fruit on the bottom of the plants. They grow but they never get quite as ripe or sweet as the other fruit because they don’t get the same amount of sun until we prune off some of the leaves.
Malachi 4:2 “But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall.”
Have you ever seen calves in the fields? They run and leap about like they are so happy just to be there. And when the Lord shines on us, we should leap about with that same kind of joyous abandon! The Lord is our sun. He shines on us with goodness and mercy.

Coming soon on Kindle!


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