Saturday, June 27, 2015

Take Heart, Dear Christian!

"This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away."
2 Timothy 3:1-5
(KJV)

Oh, dear friends!
The words you read above were inspired by the precious Holy Spirit and recorded onto papyrus paper by the pen of the Apostle Paul approximately 1,952 years ago.
Could there be any clearer picture of our current times?
Does the accuracy of this prophetic description completely amaze you as much as it does me?

Though I have heard this Scripture quoted and preached many times through the years,
tonight, I read it with fresh eyes, and as if for the first time.
As I did, the exactitude of its prediction hit me with such force.

It could have been written today, as a story for the evening news describing current events and modern day conditions. 

You and I are now living in the perilous times the Apostle Paul saw through the eyes of prophecy.

Does this mean we are in the last days he spoke of here?

I think we could all agree that, without question, we are.

All 19 descriptions in the above five verses are happening.
Right before our very eyes, we are seeing this and many other prophetic Scriptural passages fulfilled.

It is mind-boggling.
Sobering.
Somewhat terrifying.

To me, it seems the whole world is turned upside down.
What is wrong is being called right;
what is right is being called wrong.

We have completely lost our moral compass.
We are a nation divided.
Jesus' Matthew 24:12 prophecy is now reality, 
"And because iniquity shall abound, 
the love of many shall wax cold."

How else could a 21 year old walk into the sacred house of God,
sit down and "participate" in a church service for nearly an hour,
then open fire, killing nine precious, innocent saints of the most high God?
Tell me, dear friends, how could this be?

How could someone's heart be so hard, and so calloused, and so overflowing with hate,
that they could point a gun and pull a trigger on an 87 year old worshiper of Jesus Christ,
whose joy in life was to attend Bible study and sing in the church choir?

Dear Lord, help us, it is just inconceivable to me.

How could a conscience be so seared that it would allow someone to open fire on
four ministers of God, killing them in cold blood, right in the very building where they had gathered to study His Word?

I just can't wrap my mind around it.

Nine dear souls...ages 26, 41, 45, 49, 54, 59, 70, 74, and 87...
have left this world, all too soon, without so much as a chance to say good-bye
to their loved ones, due to one of the most heinous massacres of modern times.

Tears flow, as I try to type these words.
And I realize that I can't find a way to express the deep compassion in my heart.

These were my brothers...and sisters...in Jesus.
This seems so unfair.
So far beyond horrible.
To think that they had to die this way.

And my mind, once again, returns to the unerringly prophetic words of our dear Lord Jesus
and the Apostle Paul.

Perilous times.
Loveless, hate-filled, evil hearts.
Fear.
Dread.
Terror.
In Jesus' words,

"Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things 

which are coming on the earth..."
Luke 21:26

No wonder men's hearts are failing them for fear.

It looks like evil is winning the war, my friends.
It appears that satan has the upper hand.
The truth of God's Word that we hold so dear to our hearts is being ignored,
suppressed, trampled, disregarded, and cast aside.

But, truly does this change anything?

Truth is truth.
Regardless of who says it is not.

God's Word is absolute truth.
It will always be.
His law, His commandments, His dictates remain.
Forever steadfast.
Unmovable.
Unchangeable.
Unrelenting.
Unbending.
Unalterable.
Unadulterated.
Untainted.

"For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven."
Psalm 119:89

Something that is settled in heaven, 
can never be altered on earth.
Not to worry.
No reason to fear.
Truth is unchanged.

God has, and always will have, the final word.

He is still in control, dear ones.
He is sovereign...over all.
He sees what is happening.
He knows the hearts of all men and women.
He sees the end...already...and has seen it from the beginning.
Nothing surprises Him.

Signs of the times are everywhere we look.
We are in the last days.
But, those words should not invoke fear.
They should fill our souls with an everlasting hope!

Why?

Because Jesus said,
"And when these things begin to come to pass,
then look up, 
and lift up your heads; 
for your redemption draweth nigh."
Luke 21:28


He's coming for you!
The battle is almost over!
Don't give up now!
Stay encouraged.
Be strong.
Stand for truth.
Don't be afraid.

Dare to be a Daniel, and continue to serve the living God.
Remember, he suffered a night in the lion's den, but God brought him out alive.
(Daniel 6:23)

Dare to be a Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and continue to worship only God.
Remember, they were cast into a burning, fiery furnace, heated seven times hotter than usual,
but they walked out of those flames alive, unharmed, even untainted by the smell of smoke,
and the only repercussion of the fire upon them was that it had served to burn off their binding ropes.
(Daniel 3:25-27)

Dare to be a Stephen, and proclaim what is truth.
Remember, he was stoned to death, but as he was dying, he saw JESUS CHRIST,
not seated, but standing up, by God's throne, anxiously awaiting to receive him into heaven!
(Acts 7:56)

Dare to be a Joseph, and refuse the temptation to cave to sinful pressure.
Remember, in spite of his resistance to sin, he was falsely accused and imprisoned,
but God delivered him and exalted him to being 2nd in command in the land of Egypt,
and through this platform, he was able to save the lives of God's chosen people.
(Genesis 50:20)

Dare to be a Noah, who, though it had never before rained, believed and obeyed God's command to build an ark, in spite of being mocked, ridiculed, and being perceived as absurd.
Remember, it was his relentless, unshakable obedience to God that ended up saving the lives of not only him, but his whole family, too.
(Genesis 7:7)

Dare to be a Lot, whose righteous soul was vexed every, single day, 
because of the blatant, audacious sin that surrounded him and permeated the atmosphere.
Remember, God sent two angels especially for him, his wife, and two daughters,
whose mission was to deliver them and lead them to safety BEFORE they followed orders to
deliver God's vehement wrath by way of total annihilation and obliteration of his country.
They told him, in so many words, that they could do no harm
until he and his family were safe, and they hid him away in a secure place
before they unleashed God's anger.
(Genesis 19:17-24)

Dare to be an Esther, and intercede diligently and earnestly for the people of God.
Remember, at the risk of her life, she approached the throne of the king, uninvited,
but he spared her life, granted her request, and the lives of God's people were saved.
(Esther 8:3-11)

Oh, dear ones!  
As Esther stood for the chosen people of God, 
you and I must stand in the gap for our nation.

Farther and farther we slip from the Bible and God's holiness.
Closer and closer we creep to the wrath of God that is sure to follow our sins.

"And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, 
and stand in the gap before Me for the land, that I should not destroy it: 
but I found none."
Ezekiel 22:30

May it never be said that God could find no person today who will stand in the gap!

This is our generation.
We are now responsible.
The torch of Biblical truth has been passed, and we now hold it in our hands.
The ball is in our court.
We are accountable.

What will we do?

We can play church no longer.
We can be nominal, marginal Christians no more.

Who is on the Lord's side?

I want to encourage every born-again, Bible-believing, God-fearing, Christ-honoring Christian
who reads these words to pray hard and unceasingly for REVIVAL in America.
Let it begin in you.
Ask God to start a fire in your heart that would burn so fiercely,
it would compel you to influence others, pointing them ever and always to Jesus Christ.
Pray that God would send Holy Ghost conviction.
That it would spread like wildfire all across our land.
That we, God's people, would humble ourselves low before Him, 
and pray like we've never prayed before, 
and seek God's face with a fervency and passion never before seen, 
and turn from our own wicked ways.
That we would confess our sins of pride and discord and hate and selfishness.
That we would UNITE in one accord.
That we would drop the labels and denominations and titles 
and start focusing on what we have in common instead of 
digging in our heels and contending for what we do not.
That we would lay aside our trivial, petty differences, for the sake of a greater cause,
that we would finally come to the realization that we are not each other's enemy.
May our prayers begin to ascend to the throne room of God, as one man's prayer.

Dare to be like Jesus!
"...who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, 
despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God."
(Hebrews 12:2)

He is coming soon.
I have no doubt.
Until He does, it is up to YOU and to ME, my friend,
to show His love to all, to be His hands and His feet, 
to stop the ugliness and hate, to remain steadfast for the truth of God's Word,
to stand in the gap for our nation, to stay on our knees, to be the intercessory prayer warriors
who will relentlessly and unfailingly seek God to bring about righteous change.

Be encouraged, and know that God is still on the throne.

May He comfort the precious bereaved families in Charleston.
They are a shining light to us all..."a city set on an hill".  (Matthew 5:14)
They have shown God's forgiveness and grace and love, 
right in the midst of their deep grief and pain.
God bless them!
May God hear from Heaven and heal our land.
May He see fit, one more time, to send a Great Spiritual Awakening...
one such as there has never been.
And, may He somehow find it in His great loving heart to be merciful to us,
as we turn our hearts wholly back towards Him.

Look up, and take courage, dear friends!
Find comfort in God's Holy Word.
Seek His face and pray as never before.
Be confident that He is in our midst.

"And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, 
behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. 
And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do?
And he (Elisha) answered, 
Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them."
2 Kings 6:15-16

"Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: 
because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world."
I John 4:4

"O our God, wilt thou not judge them? 
for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; 
neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon Thee."
2 Chronicles 20:12

For You, dear Lord, are our only hope.



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48 comments:

  1. Cheryl... What a precious post... and so timely.... it seems that every day brings such bad news from one front or another... and the deterioration of our country continues to accelerate.... God is sovereign... what a blessing. We do need to pray for revival... and we need to walk in obedience and faith w/ our Lord.... even as difficulties increase. Our hope is in the Lord. Thank you for all that you shared.

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    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, sweet friend! Yes, the bad news just keeps coming, but praise God for His precious Word, where we always find the BEST news. :) Thank God, He is still the same, and He will never change, nor will His Word ever be re-written. We can stand on it for eternity. So happy you stopped by and left such sweet encouragement behind. God bless you!

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  2. Let's be ready to go, and rejoice for a our brothers and sisters in Christ who are now sitting at the feet of Jesus!

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    1. YES, and let's never forget to pray for their dear loved ones who walk now through the horrible aftermath of this tragedy. They will never stop missing them or remember this every time they walk into those church doors. God bless you, Briana! :)

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  3. Hi Cheryl! Thank you for your amazingly thorough post today on the horror in Carolina. How can we understand how something like this could happen? The best way to respond is to lead a good life myself. Dare to be better. Dare to speak with the mouth of the Lord, and to forgive as Christ did. All so hard to do, but what's needed now.

    Thank you for all your thoughts and Scriptural references. It's so appreciated.
    Weekend blessings,
    Ceil

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    1. Yes, dear friend, we need healing, and the only way to find that is at the feet of our Lord Jesus. Thank you so much for stopping by and leaving such sweet encouragement behind. God bless you!

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  4. I am joining you in becoming more focused on prayer for my family and others. In spite of all the sad news we know our redemption draweth nigh and we can rejoice that soon we will see His lovely face. Until then we must not leave our post, and stay committed to prayer and careful obedience no matter the outcome.
    Thank you for sharing this post. It is a blessing to be in touch with some of the remnant and to know we are out there for one another. Thank you Cheryl

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    1. YES, Shirley, may we never leave our post of duty! So thankful to be in touch with you, too, sweet friend...I loved what you said about the remnant. Praise God to be one of His children and to know that He will soon return for us!!! Have a wonderful, blessed day, sweet friend. :)

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  5. We have to be able to find common ground even in those who are different from us. We have to find a way to be more accepting of one another and more forgiving and even more loving toward each other.

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    1. The dear ones in Charleston need so much love and prayers during the aftermath of their grief...it is so incomprehensible to think of the horrors they must feel each time they walk into that church. God bless them and wrap them tightly in His love. Their reaction to this tragedy has been such a bright light to our hate-infused world!!!

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  6. This seems appropriate:

    12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12: 1-3).

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    1. YES, my friend, that is a very appropriate Scripture for our troubled times. Thank you so much for sharing. I hope all is well with you. :)

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  7. Hi Cheryl! I didn't read this post yet...I just wanted you to know I'm back online and my life has changed drastically. I still need to set up an email account, so when I do, I will let you know. I've missed you terribly!

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    1. Oh, my word! I have WORRIED about you so much. You won't believe all I have done to try to find out if you are okay! I was so afraid something awful had happened....I have told Kevin and Zach so many times how worried I am, but I didn't know what else to do. Please do email me when you can and let me know how you are. I have missed you terribly, too...I've been to your site so many times to see if you had posted. You just don't know how thankful I am to hear that you are okay!!!!!!! Please keep in touch.

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  8. I found your blog because of eaHelp and Lori Friedman who is connected to you on Google + - Thank God I found this post. I have been so burdened about all that is happening around me. I have felt alone and in actual grief over what I am hearing on the news. Not sure how to pray. afraid, and saddened. As I read your post, chills ran up and down my body. I am so moved by what you have written, that I want to save it and read it every day. And I want to PRAY. May it indeed begin with ME. God forgive ME. Have mercy on ME. We must be ready for He is coming soon! Thank you so much for posting this. It was so powerful and timely! God BLESS YOU RICHLY!

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    1. Oh, how precious your words were to me today! I am so thankful God saw it in His plan to introduce us and allow our paths to cross, and it just blesses me beyond words to know that you found encouragement here. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for stopping here and leaving such a sweet comment. God bless you richly, too...and may He keep your heart encouraged and focused on Him until the day He comes for us!! What a day that will be! Praise His wonderful name. :)

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  9. I loved your dare to be like _ _ _ _ _, and dare to speak up and live a holy life for Jesus even in the face of those who deny God and His Word. May we as believers Stand Up, Speak Up and Show Up when God directs an assignment for us. Thank you for sharing your awesome words with us here at Tell me a Story.

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    1. YES, amen, sister! God has a remnant...even now. He is sifting us. He is filtering and seeing who is really on the Lord's side. God help you...and me....and all of His children...to be faithful and to show His love while standing for truth. Be encouraged, dear friend. The prize is awaiting!

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  10. God's word is ultimate truth, exactly, this is so important and as Christians we should never forget this. You are also right we should drop all our labels (most self-imposed) and unite to prayer for our countries. I believe Australia is not so far behind America and there are many praying that the marriage laws won't change. Thank you dear friend for your encouragement and challenge to stand in the gap. You are such a Godly example to us all, thank you. xxxx

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    1. YES, if only we would drop those labels and understand that we, as the earthly body and bride of Jesus Christ, are not each other's enemy. I love that song, "Another Soldier Down". Have you heard it? One part says, "We must join forces standing tall, and lean upon His Word". God help us to do this and to love as Jesus loved while doing it. Your precious words meant SO much to today, dear friend! As they always do...you are such a dear blessing. God be with you always!!

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  11. Hey Cheryl,

    What an encouraging post!

    I came over on the Tuesday Talk Link Up today, and I am really glad to find your site!

    It is time for us to stand firm and stand tall. I love your admonition to look up and fix our eyes and our hope solely on Jesus.

    Blessings to you,
    Melanie

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    1. Yes, dear friend, it is time. We can slack no longer. We were put here "for such a time as this". I am SO thankful to have "met" you today and am so grateful for the sweet encouragement you left here. May the dear Lord bless you and uphold you always in His everlasting arms!!! Please come back anytime. :)

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  12. "Even so, Lord Jesus, come quickly"

    Our ultimate hope is found in His return!

    Thanks so much for the encouraging post.

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    1. Yes, dear Lord, even so, come!!!! Oh, dear friend! I have a feeling, He is just waiting SO anxiously for His Father to say, "Son, go bring My children home!" It brings me to tears to even think about it. He longs for us to be forever safe with Him in Heaven, and one day soon, He will split through those clouds, come for us, His earthly, collective body, and we will be forever with Him! I just believe it with all my heart. Can you imagine what a day that will be???? Thank you for coming by here...you are always such a dear blessing and encouragement to me.

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    2. Oh, I can't even begin to imagine, but I am ready! I believe it with all of my heart, too, and nothing brings me joy quite like the thought of His return. In the meantime, may we continue to write for His glory. Blessings, my friend!

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    3. YES, dear friend!!! A thousand times yes! He is with us still...and always will be, then He will take us to live with Him forever through eternity. Praise His holy name!! :)

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  13. Thank you for your words, Cheryl . . . so encouraging in the midst of the spiritual battles that are raging around us. May we be faithful unto death and unafraid those who can kill the body but cannot kill the soul.

    Blessings to you through our precious Lord.

    Rebekah

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    1. Yes, dear friend!!!! How true your words! The devil meant this for evil, but God is turning it around for good. I haven't seen the Christians unite like this in a very long time. God's will will be accomplished, and may He find us ever faithful.

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  14. Yes. Most definitely yes! Glad to read of so many others who understand where we need to stand when everything around us is on shifting sand. Hopping over from Tell His Story... Blessings!

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    1. Thank you so much, Lorretta, for your sweet encouragement. God bless you and be with you and comfort your heart, dear friend. :)

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  15. Dear Cheryl,
    This is such a wonderful post. Yes, this world seems to be just spinning out of control. I'm so thankful God isn't caught off guard. He sees it all, and when we're afraid, we only have to remember that He is with us through it all. He hasn't forgotten us.
    I've been trying to just spend more time with the Lord and reading the Word and just trying to keep myself filled up with good things. It definitely helps to read all the verses about Him being with us.
    We don't know what the future may hold, but thank the Lord He'll be with us all the way to Heaven.
    Take care, sweet friend. I hope you all are doing well. *warm hugs*

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    1. Oh, it was so good to see that you had stopped by today...and thank you for your sweet email, too. So happy to hear from you and to know all is well!! YES, time in His Word is ALWAYS good news! I try to not listen to much news at all. I can only stand to absorb a small amount before I start feeling overwhelmed. As you said, God is never caught off guard. Isn't that a wonderful thought? Nothing surprises Him. God bless you and keep you in His tender care, sweet friend. :)

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    2. I hardly ever watch the news anymore either, Cheryl. I just feel my blood pressure start going up when I see things going on in our nation and world. I get so frustrated, or there's the other news that so gross and perverted I feel sick to my stomach, so pretty much any news I get is just a few clicks on the internet. I agree with Heather - even so, Lord Jesus, come!!! Love you, sweet friend.♥

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    3. Me, too....I just can't take it all...pouring all of that negativity into my mind and then having to deal with the aftermath. God's Word is ALWAYS good news, and I find myself turning more and more to it, during these troubled days. Love you, dear friend.

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  16. It's difficult to imagine that if Jesus was walking down the street today history wouldn't repeat itself. We don't seem to have learned very much in the past 2000 years. I feel disheartened and discouraged of late by the actions in this world. I stumbled across a blog post a few weeks ago and the blogger was quoting 1 Corinthians 16:14-Let all you do be done with love. I have made this my lifetime verse. I pray all the people would do the same...especially those filled with hatred or negativity towards others.

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    1. You are SO right, dear friend. I am afraid history would repeat itself, too, and that is just heartbreaking. You are right, we haven't learned much at all. I love the verse you have adapted as your lifetime verse. What a dear thought! YES, may God please help us all to love one another. He has been dealing with me about this and reminding me that He told His disciples that by this all men would know they were His disciples...if they had love one to another. Oh, dear Lord, help us all! What a troubled time, but we know God is with us, and we have to keep looking up. Thank you for your dear comments...you are such a blessing to me!!!

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  17. This was a beautiful devotion. Yes, I, too, believe we are in the end times. So many things happening that I never thought I would see. It is terrifying, yet exciting, because it points to the return of Jesus! I pray that I can be a light in this dark world. Thank you for this beautiful challenge of doing just that. I loved this and it was so comforting to read this during this very dark time in our country.

    Blessings - Julie

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    1. Thank you ever so much, Julie!! I SO appreciated your visit and sweet words. What a blessing! God bless you richly, in return, my friend. ;)

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  18. The time is short!!! We are living right now in the endtimes no doubts whatsoever! But thanks be to God for His word of hope like you have shared: Luke 21:28.
    We all have to throw in our sickles and join God to harvest lost souls for His kingdom.
    Thanks for sharing this timely message with us Cheryl.

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    1. YES, amen, sister! God help us to be faithful to Him and never look back. What is there to look back to? Thank you for your encouragement and friendship. Much love and many blessings to you. ;)

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  19. Cheryl, your post is full of encouragement. We are blessed with the examples of the saints that have gone before us. Fernando Ortega's song fits beautifully with your words.

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    1. Yes, dear Carol! That great cloud of witnesses that have already made it to glory are the proof that we can make it, too. Thank you so much for your kind words and sweet visit. God bless you abundantly. :)

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  20. Cheryl, as always, your words are full of wisdom, courage, inspiration, and Truth. I cannot add to their eloquence, or to the impact they will make on all who read them. Suffice it say, thank you for what you have said. It was Spirit-infused, and there is much to *chew on*.

    This summed it all up for me: "...but our eyes are upon Thee."

    Yes. If we look to the right or to the left, we will become scared, discouraged, and waylaid. Only in looking up will we stay focused on the One who sits on the throne. And only in focusing on Him will we ever maintain our course.

    GOD BLESS.

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    1. Oh, dear friend! I can't thank you enough for your kind words of encouragement. You always bless me so much! YES, our eyes are upon THEE! OH, dear precious Lord, how we need You in these dark times!! Let us keep the faith and keep pressing on...he that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved. Praying for you and your burdens and sending much love your way. :)

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  21. Cheryl, as my 91 year old mom says, "Christians have thought they were in the end times since the death of Christ. Here's what I know. We ARE 2,000 years closer to His coming!" Amen

    And oh the signs are there...

    Thank you so much for sharing at DanceWithJesus. He saves...

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    1. Yes, you are right...even the disciples thought the end of time was near. But, we have never seen the signs this blatant, I don't believe, and your sweet Mom is so right. Even though things are so dark here, we know we have a hope that transcends what is going on in this world. Praise God, He has not forgotten us, and He will come for us at the appointed time! God bless you, Susan. :)

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  22. This is so encouraging, Cheryl, thank you! I love your sweet, compassionate heart---encouraging us to rise above and hold on to truth. I sure appreciate you, friend! I wanted to let you know that I've started a weekend link up on my new blog, Big Family Frugal (.com) and would love to have you join me there, as well. It's up now and the new one starts every Friday.

    Hope you're having a great week!
    Blessings,
    Sarah

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    1. Oh, Sarah! Thank you so so much for your dear, sweet words! They were such an encouragement to me tonight. :) I did get to come over and link up. Thank you so much for the invite! You are a blessing to me. God bless you in return, sweet friend. :)

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