What Happens When a Nation Turns Their Back On God?

but he (Zedekiah) stiffened his neck, and hardened his heart from turning unto the Lord God of Israel. Moreover, all the chief of the priests, and the people, transgressed very much after all the abominations of the heathen; and polluted the house of the Lord which he had hallowed in Jerusalem. And the Lord God of their fathers sent to them by his messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because he had compassion on his people, and on his dwelling place. But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against his people, till there was no remedy. 2 Chronicles 36: 13-16

What depth of sadness those words, “until there was no remedy!” There are moments as we listen to the news and our hearts are torn into shreds, that we might wonder if we too have reached that sad time in which there is no remedy. But, I do say that as long as there is at least one man, woman or even child that is willing to stand firm for God; then, there is hope. For though there was a time that the Jews were held captives of Babylon; they did later return to their land. The book of Daniel tells of a man who stood firm in his faith, though he was taken into service of the King. Ultimately he led a pagan king to worship God; because, Daniel lived out his faith boldly. He foretold of the future, some of which was fulfilled even in his lifetime. Some is yet to come. That is why we must learn of this man; so that, we too can dare to be a Daniel in our own time.

until there was no remedy

Shortly to follow Josiah’s death; God’s wrath was enacted against Jerusalem. For you see, the people returned to doing evil and worshipping manmade idols rather than Worshipping God. It was during the reign of Jehoiakim (barely 4 years after the death of Josiah) that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon captured the King and took him to Babylon in chains. Nebuchadnezzar also took some of the riches from the temple and placed them in his pagan temples. Then Nebuchadnezzar placed Zedekiah (Jehoiakim’s brother) to rule over Jerusalem. Yet, Zedekiah did not heed the warnings of God and rather continued in turning his back to God and polluting the house of the Lord. So, next Nebuchadnezzar sent

Continue reading What Happens When a Nation Turns Their Back On God?

What Characteristics Really Make a Great Leader?

 

And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the Lord with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him. 2 Kings 23:25

Often, we learn from history those characteristics which are essential in the making of Great Leaders; those who stand in the gap. They inspire and transform our hearts from the inside out by setting the stage and by exemplifying that which we need to model. Josiah was such a leader. Monday, I laid the foundation by telling you of his history as King of Judah. Now from the scriptures in 2 Kings 22-23 as well as 2 Chronicles 34 to 35. I will reference for you the scriptures that most represent each characteristic; although, I will not be able to quote each one simply due to the magnitude. So please go and read them yourself in your preferred translation.

jcgas0069-compressor

Why is this so important? This year we have the privilege of voting for a President to lead our nation. As I am writing this, I am heartbroken to learn that another police officer was shot and killed in Kansas City. As you see, I am in the airport awaiting a flight that will take me to a conference for Christian writers and speakers. Unavoidably the news is playing in the background. Our country is a great nation with lots of really good people; yet, we are facing a crisis as well. Financial distress, social unrest with anger driving it, attacks from terrorists, an infrastructure that is beginning to fail, and fear. So it is crucial that we study those characteristics of this young King to learn what made a real leader.

Continue reading What Characteristics Really Make a Great Leader?

Can One Man’s Life Make a Difference in the World?

 

And like unto him (Josiah) was there no king before him, that turned to the Lord with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him. 2 Kings 23:25 And Josiah took away all the abominations out of all the countries that pertained to the children of Israel, and made all that were present in Israel to serve, even to serve the Lord their God. And all his days they departed not from following the Lord, the God of their fathers. 2 Chronicles 34:33

Josiah was only 8 years old when he became King over Judah. It was a sad time for the nation. His father had been assassinated. It had been his father and his grandfather who had set up idol worship throughout the land. They had all but forgot God and sought after idol worship and lead the people into a life of seeking after only worldly pleasures. Long since the temple had been left to waste with no repairs. The gold used for worldly pleasures. Had Josiah heard of his great grandfather Hezekiah? After all, Hezekiah may have stumbled along the path; but, in his last days he had turned once more to worship God.

lighthouse-compressor


And then we find that at the age of 16, this young King turned to serve God once more and lead His people back into a worshipping nation.

For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was yet young, he began to seek after the God of David his father: and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem from the high places, and the groves, and the carved images, and the molten images. And they brake down the altars of Baalim in his presence; and the images, that were on high above them, he cut down; and the groves, and the carved images, and the molten images, he brake in pieces, and made dust of them, and strowed it upon the graves of them that had sacrificed unto them. 2 Chronicles 34:3-4

He proceeded on to restore the temple to its former glory. Remarkably, the workers and craftsmen followed his example for we are told that there was never any worry or concern as he gave them supplies they were honest and trustworthy.

Continue reading Can One Man’s Life Make a Difference in the World?

A Moment of Grave Sorrow and A Silence Broken

There are those moments I find it very difficult to write.  The events and the turmoil that is in this world and in our nation at present.  Perhaps there are those moments when one must speak’’; without fear of being misquoted and misinterpreted.  For me, I was in a sense born and raised color blind.  Indeed as a 4 year old child I carried around a black baby doll (which was unheard of in that day), at 6 I wept because a Mexican migrant worker couldn’t cash the check a farmer had given him.  His family stood around him and looked so hungry.  I lived in Mexico with my husband who was of Mexican descent; and after having been widowed I later remarried.  That marriage fractured when one day, my son’s black college roommate came to my home for the weekend.  When, I arrived home that day; my husband ushered me to the back room and told me to get that “N” out of my house.  I, who rarely raised my voice; ordered my husband to leave and never return.  “This is my house and my name is the only one on the deed; so, you will take your things and get out.  I will not tolerate a racist in my home—that child out there is my guest.  So  you GET OUT”.  And He did.  I never remarried after that.

walking-compressor

My best friend in the world whom I love dearly is also black.  A wise, honorable, and caring friend who has taught me so much over the past few years.  With all that being said and with a heart of love; I must not sit silently by as I watch people destroy themselves from the inside out.

Continue reading A Moment of Grave Sorrow and A Silence Broken

Can The Prayer of One Make a Difference in The World?

And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you. And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full. These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs: but the time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall shew you plainly of the Father. At that day ye shall ask in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you: For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God… These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. John 16:22-27, 33

On the previous post we came to the close of the book of Hebrews and my plan was to next turn to the book of Daniel. I still believe that it is an urgent time in our nation to be called out to stand for faith and prayer. For that reason, I do believe that Daniel will be just such a call. Yet, as I study this great book of the old testament; I recognize my own limitations and my need for God to reveal His wisdom and His truth. I need to be enlightened and guided that I might be a light as well. It is there that I turn back to these words of Jesus in John 16 before I begin this great task.

prayer-compressor

Many people try to use these words in John 16 to be proof that we may ask for wealth, prosperity and freedom from all trials in the name of Jesus with certainty to gain all those things. Yet, you see God is Sovereign and realizes that if those are my desires; perhaps, I fail to recognize that my greatest joy is in Him. If I am too focused on counterfeit joys; I might never know true joy as can only be discovered in Him. It is a matter of the heart.

Continue reading Can The Prayer of One Make a Difference in The World?

When Words Fail, Where Is Hope Found in The World?

 

Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. Hebrews 13: 20-21 (NKJV)

As we come to the end of our study in the book of Hebrews, I urge each and every one of us to pray this prayer. It is every bit as relevant today as it was in the early days of the church. We live in a broken world and a broken society—broken by all of the evil that selfish, self-centered, self-exalting hearts filled with rebellion can bring. Is this not the prayer that we each need today? Indeed, the writer of Hebrews after pleading with his readers to “beware lest they drift”; had in Hebrews 13:18 also asked that they keep him in their prayers.

broken

Let us look at that request as well.

Pray for us: for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly. Hebrews 13:8

That is my prayer as well. Understanding how important words can be; I pray that my words only seek out truth from the scripture. Never do I want “me” to get in the way by action or word in displaying the fullness of God’s Grace, Love and Glory. Each morning before I write, I pray for guidance. Truth, honesty, integrity is too often lost in our “need to exonerate our own person”. So often our own agenda stands in the way of truth. We are so quick to make excuses for our own behavior or words; while, never hearing or seeing another’s reality. So yes, please pray for me as I pray for you and our nation this prayer.

Continue reading When Words Fail, Where Is Hope Found in The World?

What Can I Do If I Really Want Peace?

Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed. Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears. Hebrews 12:13-17

When we consider the early Hebrew Christians, we know that they underwent great persecution from both their Jewish Brethren as well as the Roman Soldiers. They were cautioned by the writer many times to keep their focus on God’s Grace. They were reminded of Jesus who endured unjustly so much more. When the soldiers came to arrest Him, He commanded His apostles to lay aside their swords. Once again in these scriptures, the writer is reminding them that they are to make straight paths, seeking holiness; lest bitterness spring up within them and they lose their way. Bitterness, anger and hostility will destroy them as a people and as a nation from the inside. When we lose sight of the bigger picture, which is our position with Christ; then, we are blind to see the truth though it is right in front of our own eyes.

liberty-compressor

These were being persecuted on every side; yet, the writer urges them to follow peace with all men and to seek holiness. He goes on in Hebrews 13:1-3 (NIV)

Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.

They were urged to lift each other up with love and in kindness to transform others.

Continue reading What Can I Do If I Really Want Peace?

IT BEGINS WITH ME

These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. Revelation 3: 15-20

How sad the tragedies of this week which cry out to our hearts.  We stand in fear, sorrow, and ask, “God, where are you?”  Yet, all who proclaim the name of Christ, think about this:  How long have we been complacent?  How long have we closed our eyes?  How long have we been too busy to pray or to extend our hands in mercy and love?  Have we allowed roots of bitterness to grow up in our own hearts?  Revival begins with me!  If I die proclaiming the name of Christ, let me do so with honor, grace, and love!!  But let me not be silent; nor let me be filled with fear or anger!!  Let me stand with love, grace, mercy and truth on my lips proclaiming the truth that our only hope as a nation, as a people and as a world is to stand firm in proclaiming the name of Christ as the only hope for all nations.  It begins with ME!!

darkness-reigns-compressor (1)

 

IT BEGINS WITH ME

By Effie Darlene Barba

 

With all the pain across this land

What can I do to take a stand?

For hope, for joy and virtue too

Oh Lord, to take my stand for You!

 

There is no hope for truth to reign

While men do use Your name in vain

Their selfish lies Your gospel feign

Our streets now filled with bloody stain

 

My Lord, I come with heavy heart

To ask You Lord, “What is my part?”

“What can I do? Where do I start?”

I have no strength lest You impart!

 

For if I speak, they will not hear

Angry, embittered, deafened ear

With hearts of rage and hearts of fear

Until truth and love all disappear

 

Such bitter rain of dark dismay

“What can I do? What can I say?”

Except on bended knee to pray

To plead You come to heal today

 

You are the ONLY Hope I know

Where virtue, truth doth overflow

I plead for them, that You might show

Your mercy, Lord to men so low

 

And let Your victory on the cross

Cover our shame, our bitter loss

Open our ears to hear Your voice

Let peace and love now be our choice

 

Turn evil hearts that they might see

Their only hope of victory

Is to bow down on bended knee

Pleading for Grace, humility

 

I cannot see my brother’s pain

While anger, fear within me reign

So, first I come before You now

Clean my heart, Your truth avow

 

It all must now BEGIN with Me

So, open now my heart to see

My selfish heart, my guilty stains

Let truth and mercy fill my veins

 

That I might boldly go proclaim

That if each one would call Your Name

And lay aside their selfish pride

Your peace and love could then abide

 

Our freedom, liberty renew

Our torch of hope for all to view

And so Dear Lord, I clearly see

Revival now, begins with me.

I plead with each and every person that hears my voice to in humility bow your knees before the throne of God and pray for our nation.  Pray that He reveal to you the sins, doubts, bitterness, and pride that lies within your own heart; so that you might repent and be cleansed.  Lay down before His mighty throne any root of bitterness in your own heart, so you might then stand in mercy, truth and love to proclaim His Name to a despairing world in need of Him.

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14

As a nation we must pray for grace & love to reign in our lives. It begins with me!! Click To Tweet

If I desire Peace, Love, and Grace from others, it begins with me giving Peace Love and Grace. Click To Tweet

©Effie Darlene Barba, 2016

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post.  I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

NOT TONIGHT–A Poetic Tribute to Our Officers

nottonight-compressor

 

Not Tonight

Into the deepest darkest night

Where evil lurks-hid from his sight

An Officer goes-prepared to fight

With all His strength and all His might

Praying to God, not tonight

 

He gently pulls His children near

Their smiles can lift his heart with cheer

He kisses boo-boos wipes their tears

And as He leaves for work He hears

Daddy, don’t go, not tonight

 

She kisses him, to work he goes

And all the time, too well she knows

That he must face such evil foes

Phone clutched tight, her eyes then close

Lord, don’t let it ring, not tonight

 

A mother awakens to whisper a prayer

Protect my son from sin’s dark lair

Your warrior of truth-just and fair

Endowed by you with virtues rare

He’s yours to call, please not tonight

 

Forgotten and paid a pauper’s wage

Media and public he must assuage

While calmly holding back the rage

When violent criminals do engage

Pleading to God, not tonight

 

These officers protecting you

They sacrifice more than you knew.

When will you value what they do?

Or even stop to say, “Thank You”?

Shame on you, if not tonight

The sad reality is that for five brave officers in Dallas, it was the last time they kissed their children goodnight, it was the phone call their wife had prayed to never receive, it was their mother’s heartbreak, and it was the communities loss.  We cannot continue this road of hatred toward those who sacrifice so much to protects us.  They see more evil in one night than some of us do in a lifetime.   What kind of world would we have if they all just quit?  Anarchy and chaos would rule.  Those who believe that police target blacks—look at the statistics!  The statistics report that 50% of all police shootings are white, 26% are black, and the remaining hispanic or asian; while 60% of all crimes are committed by blacks.  Do you want to change the Statistics–don’t break the law and treat the officer who stops you with respect–no matter what!!  If 13% of the population are committing 60% of all crimes—think about it.  If you don’t want to be profiled—don’t profile yourselves into those statistics.  Many of my very best friends are black; because, to me color, ethnicity don’t change how I see the person.  I see them for who they are.  Yet, when my purse was stolen it was a black man who ripped it from my arm, when my house was broken into—it was two black men who violated my home, when my windshield was violently broken on my van as I left our office—it was a black man, and when our office in Dallas was broken into—it was 2 black men.  Yet, I REFUSE to say ALL black people are bad because of those 6 who chose to be bad.   Yet, the chants heard in the Black Life Matters protests is proclaiming ALL Cops are racist–using slurs and hatred toward all law enforcement–escalating the problem and resulting in more young black men resisting arrest, disrespecting the officer and fighting instead of “doing as told.”  If you are innocent that can be determined after the fact–not at the moment you first encounter the police!!   Each and every one of us needs to look deep within our own hearts.   The other day I was pulled over because I had forgotten to place the new stickers on my license plates, though I had them.  As anyone when pulled over, my heart was pounding, I felt a moment of anxious wonder as to what I had done.  I rolled down the window and kept my hands visible, open and lying on the steering wheel in clear sight—like you are suppose to do when pulled over.  If there is a delay before the officer approaches the window, then you get registration, insurance and drivers license out to lay in open view in the passenger seat.  If there is no time, just place your hands open and resting on the steering wheel in plan view.  Simple ethics of being a citizen in a democracy such as ours.  Everything was good.  He smiled and said, “when you get home, put the stickers on the tags”  My reply?  Yes, Sir.

As a nation we must pray for grace & love to reign in our lives. It begins with me!! Click To Tweet

If I desire Peace, Love, and Grace from others, it begins with me giving Peace Love and Grace. Click To Tweet

©Effie Darlene Barba, 2016

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post.  I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Can One Broken, Contrite, Praying Heart Make a Difference?

 

Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed. Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; Hebrews 12:12-15

This has been a tragic 4th of July week. Our country, my country and yours appears to be in broken turmoil. Split into divides and sanctions with bitterness and hate rising. The hatred, bitterness and divide have been rising over the last 8 to 10 years culminating in all the tragedies of this week. We saw a taste of our officers at their worst. A result of fear for their own life or rage? I haven’t seen all the pieces or facts, so I certainly do not know. Can we judge their heart, their motive from a video? Then we see the police at their finest as we watch them be slaughtered. I watched as the police were placing themselves in harm’s way to protect the protestors in Dallas. Those who were calling them names were ushered to safety by the very officers who walked into the line of the bullets. Other officers again placing themselves directly in the line of fire to rescue one of their own and then to apprehend the suspects.

Flag draped Casket

We watch snippets from videos and believe that we know the story when all too often we only know what the sensationalists want us to know. I cannot pretend to say I know for certain the right or the wrong of each incident; yet, I am certain I cannot judge the heart of someone else. I can start by examining my own heart. Last night, I could not sleep. I was watching the calm protests and saw the unfolding of the Dallas tragedies when they first occurred. Flipping between channels as I had been doing for the previous hour; trying to reconcile the differences in the “truth” presented, I could not help but notice that some lagged way behind in presenting the news about Dallas while continuing a rant against “all police.” Did their rhetoric escalade and open the door for such a planned attack? Probably not in one day; but, does our need for 24-hour a day sensationalism add to the divide already present within our hearts?

Continue reading Can One Broken, Contrite, Praying Heart Make a Difference?