The Very Great Test

Testing Image.jpg

The last couple of days as I have prayed and pondered the ever increasing life changes we are all facing two thoughts keep surfacing:

  1. This is a very great test.
  2. The Lord is looking for changes of heart and habit.

In the midst of these circumstances of illness and fear,  be assured Holy Spirit is on the move in our lives BIG TIME! His goal is not only to help us but to teach us and change us.

Yes, the virus itself and the fear that is manifesting is certainly the work of the devil. We must stand in faith against it relying upon our God. And, that stand is the basis of the test.

Holy Spirit is dealing with me, perhaps you as well, during this stressful time. Soul searching questions arise out of my heart for myself and for the Body of Christ: Are we standing in faith praying trusting in and relying upon the amazing grace and love of God bought for us by the precious blood of Jesus or self-reliant? Are we panic praying or are we asking for direction and listening to the guidance of Holy Spirit? Are we still selfish beyond belief with an hoarding attitude, ungrateful, complaining, and reacting to these changes with deep seated fear? Or, are we thanking our God for what we do have, asking Him what changes we need to make during this time so that our lives are more pleasing to Him, and listening to Him regarding what we can do so that our neighbor’s needs are met?

You see we get an F on our test for fear response. God still loves us of course, but we will suffer greatly as we choose to do things out of selfish fear versus taking our fear to Him and asking Him to help us and, much more importantly, to help us to help others. 

Did you know that Holy Spirit will tell you who to help? And that He will tell you when to go out to get supplies. He will even tell you where to go to get what you or someone else needs.  He probably won’t direct you to what you want or what you desire to hoard, but He will direct you to the places where you can get what you and your family actually need. How do I know this? Because He is taking such good care of my husband and me. Wherever we feel led to go, what we really need is there! It has been astounding to walk into places with so many empty shelves and find the last package of noodles, the last bottle of anti-bacterial cleaner, the last package of toilette bowl cleaner, the last tube of Aspercreme (needed for sore muscles), the only bottle of tomato sauce, the last can opener (ours broke and we needed one), and tissues, wipes, foods, etc all there when needed. If we desired something and it wasn’t there,  after all His provision, its apparent we really don’t need it yet. When we do, I know I can trust Holy Spirit to guide us to the place where it can be found!

During this time it is vital we as a Body defeat our tendency toward fear and self-reliance. As stated earlier, Holy Spirit is impressing on me the great need for heart changes and habit breaking in all of us. Even the best of us can fail and fear, exhibit selfishness, complain instead of thank, and deal with habitual behaviors/attitudes that are displeasing to our Father in heaven. What better time than during isolation, like this season, to stop depending on other things, on other people, or on ourselves and choose to learn how to lean fully upon our wonderful loving God? What a great time to start praying together as a family or having family Bible study!  Living alone? What a great time to pray, read, and have a retreat with God; just you and Him where you can learn about His plans for your future.  For every one of us, what a perfect time for calling neighbors and friends to see how they are doing, especially those that need Jesus in their lives. Your call could be a salvation call. How exciting!

Remember, He is on the move. He is drawing people to Him. He has HOPE for us all! He has thoughts higher than ours and, as we call upon Him, He will tell us great and mighty things we don’t yet know.  He will even tell us who to call, email, or text.

A final word coming to me today is isolation is not really isolation in the Body of Christ. We are all ONE in Christ Jesus our Lord. We all listen to and are helped by the same Spirit and we all have the same Father in Heaven. He has already, way in advance, provided the perfect vehicles to not feel so alone. Reach out via telephone. Call instead of text and be blessed by the voice of a fellow believer.  Plan a video call, set up a conference call, and be encouraged by your brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus or encourage them. Tune into the streaming on Facebook and other sources featuring churches that are having online services. Watch inspirational messages and praise songs on YouTube and other websites when you feel down.  Praise God for the phone lines, internet, for Wifi and 4g. Isolation lonliness is state of mind and we must purpose to overcome it and help others in the process! With Holy Spirit’s help we will overcome and be victorious in our Lord.

How we go through this challenge is a huge witness to those that are pre-believers. It is indeed a very great test and it is hard to repent and change our ways, but we can pass the test and get an A+ (an awesome achievement heart change award) from our God as He sees the depth of our desire to do things His way no matter our circumstances.

You, we, are all very loved. God has not abandoned us or forsaken us! Instead, He is drawing us closer to Him. Transformation is His goal as we take a stand against this demonic attack and choose to lean fully upon Him as we do.  To all who are willing He is opening the treasures of His heart. Abundance of His presence awaits us!

With love and peace to you and yours,
Rev Cheryl

Copyrighted 2020 Cheryl S Birch
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May be shared in whole with name of author, copyright, and end notes intact

“Fret-Fest”

worry - fretting

It seems that for intercessors and those who are faithful leaders and witnesses in the body of Christ that the difficulties of life just keep on happening without much of a break. Most are totally out of our control and too many are beyond disappointing, they are downright scary. There are victories too, but the challenges seem so heavy that they appear to far outweigh the good things God is doing in our lives.  Recently, when I was going through yet another round of challenging circumstances I heard this question: Do you believe in Me or do you Believe Me?  That stopped me in the middle of my fretting party! It really is two different things. To believe there is a God is common to humankind.  As followers and Disciples of Christ Jesus we are called to step beyond believing in God to believing everything about Him and believing everything He says as true.  There I was sitting in the place of the man whose daughter was ill as recorded in Mark chapter 9:24. He said “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” Jesus had said to him in verse 23, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”

Meditating on that for a bit, it became evident that the “fret-fest” about my personal challenges had taken over my thoughts and emotions causing my “belief-o-meter” to plummet. I certainly was NOT in the place of “all things are possible to him who believes” in regard to my life.  Fretting was where I was living and that had to change. Now please note that fretting is selective. If friends, fellow intercessors or my Pastor need prayer my faith is a mountain; no problem believing God for other folks! It’s the close to home stuff that is the challenge and the Lord is after that root of fear and unbelief in His chosen ones.

Fretting means to be devoured or consumed by anxiety and worry over problems perceived or real.  Some problems aren’t even a problem, we just think they are!  If left unattended, the worry and anxiousness begins to gnaw away at one’s mind and emotions resulting in an uneasy, distressed, anguished, complaining, grumbling, whining person.  Maybe none of you have lived in “fret-fest land,” but I suspect that the Lord put this on my heart to share because there are some of you living there right now and/or something is about to happen and this word will help you not go there!

In fact, I believe that many in the body of Christ are in a battle with fretting tendencies right now because Holy Spirit is bringing this rather hidden sin to the surface and making it glaring so we will deal with it.  We can’t go to the NEW THING He is doing with a bag full of frets.  He wants us free of that luggage and all of our fret-buttons healed so that He can use us in marvelous and exciting ways as intercessors and ministers of His Gospel of Truth.

Fretting has to go because it’s more than a minor worry. It is based in primal instincts of fear and self-preservation. Fear and self-preservation are natural and even good when there is immediate danger.  In fretting both turn to sin. One is doubt in God’s ability or willingness to help and the other is pride and trying to fix it ourselves.  To be victorious intercessors for ourselves and the powerful leaders and witnesses that are Ambassadors of Christ to our spheres of influence, this battle needs to be won by each of us. Fretting needs to be replaced with absolute 100 percent dependent upon God faith where our “belief-o-meter” explodes out the top.

But HOW, was my question to the Lord as He revealed this need of healing for my soul.  I heard in response: “Call unto Me and I will show you great and mighty things which you do not know,” Jeremiah 33:3 and “I am the author and finisher of your faith!” Hebrews 12:2.  The main thing was for me to admit that I was dealing with the revelation of a longtime hidden sin of fretting and repent for allowing that gnawing all-consuming worry to erode my ability to believe God.  I need to call upon Him to help me. So,  I thanked Him for revealing this thing, repented and received forgiveness. His forgiveness is amazing!  What seemed impossible to overcome became simple to me. If I ask Jesus for more faith, He will supply it. If I Believe HIM, I will receive because there is nothing too hard for Him.

So, take time with the Lord during this season of fretting revelation. Ask Him if some or maybe all of your challenges are being amplified because your soul is having a fret-fest.  Then get ready for a belief-o-meter explosion! He’s got mega-faith stored up for you so you can receive the mega-answers and breakthroughs He is ready to pour out of heaven!

May this season be one of most astounding reaping of all you have sown into the Kingdom of God!

With Joy

Cheryl

Authored by Rev Cheryl Birch
8-31-19
May be shared with author and date intact
Copyrighted 2019 Cheryl S. Birch
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Shalom is more than Peace

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This month the Lord has really highlighted to me the amazing power found in praying His Peace into and over every situation. In fact, so much so that I want to put out a challenge for us to specifically pray for God’s Peace, Shalom, over our communities, states and nations….and, all of us, for the next 30 days and beyond as the Lord leads.  I believe we will see Holy Spirit move in outrageously amazing ways in response!

This challenge will be most effective if we have an understanding that Peace in the word of God is both a noun and a verb. It is both a state of being and an action word!  Simply stated Shalom is more than peace.

God’s Peace is the word Shalom in Hebrew, interpreted in Greek as the word Eirene. However, we must note that the Hebrew folks and our Lord Jesus would have actually spoken or written the word Shalom wherever you see Eirene used.

Shalom means to have favor, to be safe,happy, healthy, prosperous, restored: perfectly well and whole and at rest. It’s profoundly interesting to not that
the Hebrew symbols for Shalom actually say “the authority that destroys chaos.” It is an action word! It is something we can choose to be and choose to pursue and do in the power of God.

Eirene means prosperity: to be one, peace, quietness, rest, + set at one  again (put back together).

What most of us really want is to experience the state of being represented by the noun Peace – which really is a goal of resting in the Lord – but, we’re not going to get to that goal until we understand the mighty ACTION of the verb Shalom/Eirene which is part of the transformational work of Holy Spirit that will lead us to the place of rest, wholeness, and prosperity in Him.

Holy Spirit brought this home to me at a recent prayer retreat I attended. He gave 3 scriptures as I was reading the Passion Translation

Psalm 23:1-3 The Lord is my best friend and my shepherd.  I always have more than enough. He offers a resting place for me in his luxurious love. His tracks take me to an oasis of peace, the quiet brook of bliss. That’s where he restores and revives my life. He opens before me pathways to God’s pleasure and leads me along in his footsteps of righteousness so that I can bring honor to his name.

Romans 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of rules about food and drink, but is in the realm of the Holy Spirit, filled with righteousness, peace, and joy.

Romans 16:20 And the God of peace will swiftly pound Satan to a pulp under your feet! And the wonderful favor of our Lord Jesus will surround you.

What David wrote in Psalm 23 – actually the whole of it – is our goal. No matter what is going on we can abide in that amazing place of resting in our God, at peace, knowing HE has it all taken care of, whatever “it” may be.   Ultimately verse 6 is the result: So why would I fear the future? For your goodness and love pursue me all the days of my life. Then afterward, when my life is through, I’ll return to your glorious presence to be forever with you! 

The Romans 14 verse reveals a three-part active, action oriented, transformation of every soul and thereby the Kingdom of God is built as whole families, congregations, neighborhoods, cities, nations are restored. Believers are transformed through salvation which brings righteousness, the process of healing our soul (wounds of the heart and mind) which brings peace. Righteousness plus Peace produces great joy in our Lord!

Then there is the ACTION part of peace that destroys chaos: Romans 16 which reveals the astounding power of cooperating with the God of Peace. The Shalom released by God into our lives is so powerful that it pounds satan to a pulp under our feet making room for Jesus to surround us with His wonderful favor. That is our goal of intercession in this challenge of praying peace. As we co-conspire with Holy Spirit this month asking for the restoring transforming power of peace, satan is gonna get a pounding! The result? The Kingdom of God: righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit!!

The Body of Christ needs this kind of prayer as they minister and as they launch into the new things our God is doing. WE who pray and intercede need this kind of prayer. Our world needs this kind of prayer. What most folks think peace is falls far short of God’s definition.

Shalom is a magnificent gift from a magnificent God. The more we understand His peace the more we will see lives changed for Him. For additional information about the mighty and amazing action of the Peace of God, and why it is so vital to pray for and to cooperate with His Shalom, check out this excellent (and short) Bible Project video   https://thebibleproject.com/videos/shalom-peace/.  And explore their site. It’s chock full of good stuff for personal study and to share with others.

If you decide to begin the “Praying Peace” challenge, let me know!

SHALOM!
Cheryl

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Rejoicing in Christ Jesus

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Today the Lord poured out a powerful reminder to  refocus! There is a tendency for us to get caught up in the negative things going on in our lives and the world and forget that we  have a constant place of JOY and REFRESHING available to us.  His word to me was REJOICE! Laugh! BE GLAD! Holy Spirit directed me to Romans 8:31-39.  He wants to strengthen us and help us to walk through everything that comes our way!

After reading those verses in Romans here is what I recorded. I pray that it blesses you!
http://revcherylbirch.sermon.net/main/main/21223574

He also gave this precious spontaneous song during a worship service awhile back. It goes so well with His word to me today that I believe it will be an additional blessing to you: http://revcherylbirch.sermon.net/main/main/21224312

With love to you,
Rev. Cheryl

Hope

Hope

I was reading news stories today about Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade, two well-know, admired and financially well-to-do people, that became so very distraught they ended their lives by their own hand. My first thought was for their family and loved ones that God would comfort them. Then, I was overcome with the simple truth that money and success, though touted as the goal that will make a person happy and content, actually has nothing to do with happiness and contentment.  Pondering that with the Lord in prayer, I came away with renewed realization that what actually brings joy, a sense of well-being and peace or contentment to a person’s life is HOPE. Without hope we are lost in place of darkness slaved to depression and despair even in the midst the most opulent of life’s circumstances.

No doubt in the darkest moments of the trials of life, even the most generally hopeful of us have entertained the thought that death would bring relief from the suffering, stress, pain and challenges.  Why do some succumb to the darkness of those thoughts and end up miserable and bitter at best or kill themselves at worst while others are touched by a spark of saving hope and they endure Continue reading

Beginning of Signs

watertowine

This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him. John 2:11

In a previous post the Lord spoke to my heart that He was ending some things right now, closing many doors, in preparation for a grand season of NEW.  (Read New Beginnings) This morning as I was asking the Lord what I needed to know in this season of endings and new beginnings, I felt directed to reread the first chapters of the Book of John.  As I read these favorite verses, suddenly they became as if I had never read them. The words became fresh and new, it fact alive.

In John Chapter 2 the story of Jesus turning water into wine simply overwhelmed me. It was like I was listening in on the conversation with Jesus and his Mother. I was visioning with the Lord.  In this type of vision I could see that the encounter was a tender exchange. Mary came to her son because she wanted to bless the bride and groom and the bride’s father, who was the host.  There was an intense sense that she completely trusted her son.  Also, that as His Mother, she knew him so well, and had observed Him and His capabilities for all His life, that she believed there was no one better suited than Jesus to bless the wedding and take care of the need.

His response was funny in the vision experience I was having. It was like He put his hands on his hips, cocked His head and with a grin said, “Gee Whiz Mom, I know you trust me to handle this, but I haven’t heard from my Father in Heaven on it.”  We know from scripture that He didn’t do anything unless He saw or heard it from His Father.  So, unless He did hear or see, it wasn’t going to happen. Mary knew that, because she knew Him so well. As I  continued to vision with the Lord, she smiles back at her son a knowing smile and then tells the servants to do whatever He says. After that she walks away. She appeared totally convinced He would do GOOD in this situation and would flow with blessing and provision. Continue reading

Beginning = Love One Another

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And now I plead with you, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment to you, but that which we have had from the beginning: that we love one another. This is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, that as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it. 2 John 1:5-6

In my walk with our Lord I have found over and over again that every ending means God has developed in me a greater capacity to keep His commandment to love one another as He has loved us.  (John 15:12) This increased capacity to love as He loves creates a new beginning and He opens new doors for me to walk through in order that I may demonstrate His love in fresh new ways.  The hard part of this process is always the ending of a season, especially if that season has been the center of my life. The closing of a door can be confusing if it is something I had come to rely upon or had thought I would be part of forever. It can be painful as closing doors always means I have to let go of something whether its my opinions, habits, status and position, financial, or even people. Often the new door is not clear and I have needed to let the old door close in obedience following the leading of Holy Spirit without knowing exactly where I am going or why.

In this process of beginning, for I am determined to look at each ending situation no matter how painful as an exciting new chapter in my life, Continue reading

New Beginnings

 

The Beginning

The Lord God in His infinite wisdom is ending some things right now. This is a world wide event affecting entire nations and also regions, cities, and individuals like you and me. Endings can be a bit disconcerting, confusing and sometimes down right scary.  This is especially so when it is all going on at one time.  It’s hard to remain at peace or understand our role when we are seemingly in constant crisis or crisis is constantly happening around us.

How vital it is right now that we, the body of Christ, get a handle on what is going on from heaven’s perspective! The last two postings I made were reminders that God is in charge, He loves us, He has chosen us and that He has had a grand wonderful plan from the very beginning.  Secondly, its important to constantly remember that we are still in a time of GRACE and new beginnings are available daily.  We not in a time of judgement and wrath, but we are in a time of intense battle and world-wide spiritual struggle for nations (for the souls of the world). It’s ugly out there, not because God is pouring out judgement and wrath, but because the demonic forces are trying to kill as many people as possible to prevent them from ever knowing Christ Jesus as Savior. It’s even uglier because so many people flowing in the evil of their own hearts and are coming into agreement with the demonic plan to wipe out all that God created in the beginning and said was good, especially humankind.

He is speaking to me prophetically … Continue reading

“The Beginnings”

“The Beginnings” – Part 2 of The Beginning

Beginning

How exciting to be part of the wondrous things our God is doing in the world! We are headed rapidly to the grandest new beginning of all time when He recreates the earth and returns it fully to a reflection of His glory.  In the mean time, I am learning from my times with Holy Spirit, praying and studying His Word, that we, the body of Christ, need a refresher course regarding “the beginnings” we have already received. In fact, too many of us are focused right now on the end of our beginnings instead of the amazing times in which we live. Fear is overtaking many in the church as they look at the apparent growing darkness in the world and wonder if they will survive the bad things going on and/or those situations described in Revelations. Some are into debating how much suffering and wrath God will pour out and how long they will go through the punishment before Jesus’ return. And, others are totally focused on the rapture of the church and hiding out praying He will get them out of here as Paul says: “Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.” (1 Thessalonians 4:17)

Yes, things are getting a little crazy in the world, but ….  Continue reading

The Beginning

The Beginning – Part 1

As I was praying and asking Holy Spirit to guide me in what to read and study the next few weeks, I heard in my heart so clearly: The Beginning. Amazingly, a moment later I opened my Bible randomly and it was to the book of John Chapter 1. The first words are “In the beginning.” That “coincidence” certainly convinced me that I had received a “God-impression!”

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So, I started my study on “the beginning” with John chapter 1: “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” I had written across the top a while ago; This Word is Jesus and Jesus is this Word! The chapter goes on to say: “He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not comprehend it.

Those first verses got me thinking about creation and Jesus the Son of God, the light of the world. Genesis 1:1-5 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day. 

Everything that was made, was made through Jesus. All good things, all things with a purpose to bless, from the very beginning of our world were created through Jesus. When light appeared it overcame the darkness,  What was void and formless it goes on to say, began to take on form and pattern. That pattern it says in John Chapter 1 was ALL reflective of Jesus, the Word incarnate, the Light of men.

So, the beauty of a flower, the intricacy of a living being, the complexity of a human being, the sweetness of a kitten,  the strength of the mountains, the loveliness of a grassy meadow, the power of rushing waters, the stunning majesty of a sunset or sunrise, the orderly pattern and design of the nature and the heavens, the spectacular variety and creativity found in our world (and so much more) are ALL a reflection of Him through Whom it was created.

Much gets blamed on God, but nothing dark, ugly, diseased, evil, deadly or malformed came from Him. That all that bad stuff entered our world when the first of humankind, Adam and Eve, opened the door for darkness to rule instead of light. These evils and banes in our world are reflective of the work of that old serpent, the devil and our human willingness to partner with his twisted and perverted plans to make God’s lovely creation hideous.

The most marvelous thought about this first day of studying “the beginning” is that even as all creation was formed through Him, Jesus knew the door to darkness would be opened and the purity and beauty of His creation would be tainted and twisted by evil. The magnificence of creation, the beginning, is that He also knew the end and all that would happen in between, including His death and resurrection. Yes, including the plan to redeem humankind and give us the opportunity to answer Him when He calls our name out of darkness into His marvelous light.  And, eventually, when the time is right, He will remake the entire earth into a place that is once again, totally reflective of Him.

Now, we have that which reflects Him in part. Soon, very soon, we will have “The Beginning of all Beginnings” when He revisits the earth as the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.  In the mean time, my prayer is that we all learn how to be reflections of Him in the earth as much as is possible. Let us step into our personal new beginning and be His light in our world.

Peace and Joy in our Lord!

Rev. Cheryl