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Bev Yellowley

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  1. Rescue Me Amber rushed down the hallway to her room and threw herself on the bed, turning to look back at the door to make sure she had closed it tightly behind her. She reached for her cell phone, ending the familiar music that had alerted her of a text, excited to see if her new friend had sent another message. She had met him online recently, and despite warnings from her parents not to have contact with strangers, Amber began a relationship with a 17-year-old man named Caine. She was hesitant at first to communicate with him, wanting to respect her parent’s wishes, but after a while, she got caught up in the thrill of her first romantic relationship at the tender age of 13. No one had ever told her she was beautiful before until Caine texted those words to her, and she knew she was in love. When he wrote he wanted to meet her in person, Amber grew anxious and said she would ask her parents, but Caine convinced her they would not understand, so she agreed to meet him at her schoolyard that night. Amber lied to her parents about visiting her best friend, then ventured out that evening to meet the man of her dreams. Her heart skipped a beat when she recognized Caine’s vehicle from the description he had given her, and she hurried over and slid into the passenger seat of his car. She was shaking as she turned towards the man in the driver seat, expecting to find the handsome young man she’d seen in the pictures Caine had sent to her phone. Instead, Amber was shocked when a creepy-looking, middle-aged man stared intently at her with a leering look. She was terrified and frantically tried to exit the SUV, but when she heard the door lock, Amber knew she was trapped, and she began to scream, “Let me out of this car! I want to go home. Where is Caine? He said he’d meet me here!” The man slowly grinned and reached for his phone, and as he showed his last text to her, he started to laugh, saying, “Amber, I’m Caine. I couldn’t wait to see you! You look even prettier than you do in your picture.” Amber was stunned and began to panic, threatening to call the police. The man’s countenance changed, and he shouted with venom, “I’m never going to let you go. You better shut up before you get hurt!” Then Caine grabbed the phone out of her hand, and her hope quickly vanished that she could reach out for help. Amber crawled into the fetal position, desperately wishing she’d listened to her parents about not communicating with strangers. She was so distraught she cried all night, each mile they drove, taking her farther from home. Amber’s fear became even more heightened when they stopped in front of a rundown apartment building, in a dark and unfamiliar location. Then Caine jerked open her car door and gripped her arm tightly, pulling her towards the dilapidated building. She was trembling as they walked up the shadowed staircase, and when they reached the landing, Caine opened the door and announced sarcastically, “Welcome to your new home!” Amber was aghast at the deplorable conditions in the old dingy apartment. The furniture was sparse and broken, and there was garbage strewn all over the floor. A single, dim light bulb hung from the ceiling, and the air felt evil and oppressive. Amber stood motionless in the middle of the room, petrified of being alone with Caine. Then he drew close and touched her hair, and she was horrified. Suddenly a voice coming from the back of the apartment startled them, and she watched as Caine stormed down a hallway, unlocked an old wooden door, and swung it open with a crash, to reveal the source of the noise. Caine ordered her into the room, and Amber was stunned to see five frightened girls huddled in the corner of a cramped, gloomy bedroom. A few of them appeared to be teens, and the others seemed to be younger, but Amber realized they all shared the same tortured look in their eyes. The fear, despair, and sorrow emanating from their faces was so overwhelming Amber had to look away. She caught the gaze of her cruel captor, and chills went down her spine. “Quiet down in here,” Caine growled at them, “I need to get some sleep!” Then he turned to Amber, and with a threatening tone, said, “You will never be going home! No one will ever find you here, and if you try to escape, I will kill you!” Amber was devastated and fell to her knees, sobbing for him to release her. Caine gave Amber one last menacing stare as he was leaving the bedroom, and then they heard the door close with a deafening thud, and the lock clicked securely in place. There was an awkward silence for a few minutes, as the girls were reluctant to open up at first, unsure of who they could trust. One of the teens named Tori helped Amber to her feet and showed her to a bed where she sat quietly in shock, waiting for this nightmare to end. They were all talking softly now, so they would not incur Caine’s wrath. Finally, Amber summoned the courage to speak, saying, “Why did Caine bring me here? What is going on in this place?” The young women all looked at each other nervously, and then Tori bravely explained that Caine contacts girls and boys online, or finds them on the streets, and lures them into a relationship with him so that he can use them for sex trafficking. Amber was shocked at the horrifying news and didn’t want to believe what she’d heard. She had read a little about human trafficking, but never thought it would happen to her. Several of the young women began to speak about their terrible ordeal, and Amber was appalled when she learned of the violence, abuse, and neglect they had suffered at the hands of vile people, without any hope of seeing their friends and family again. Amber’s mind was racing as she sat shivering on the edge of her bed in the darkness, wondering how she was going to survive. A few of the young women had drifted into a fitful sleep but woke up in an instant when they heard loud banging on their bedroom door. Amber’s heart filled with terror when she heard Caine shouting, “Get out here now! Don’t make me come in there! It’s time to go to work.” Amber was shaken and so afraid, wondering what would happen to her. She followed the girls’ lead, eating a few bites of a small, inadequate meal until Caine yelled for her to follow him out to his car. Paralyzed with fear, Amber called out to Jesus to rescue her from this wicked man. Caine ordered her down the apartment stairs, and when they approached his SUV, he reached into his pocket to retrieve his ringing phone, but it slipped out of his hand and shattered on the ground below. He cursed angrily and bent down to pick up his damaged cell phone when Amber heard God clearly speaking, telling her to run. She knew this might be her only chance to escape, so Amber bolted down the busy sidewalk, carefully dodging patrons of the shops and businesses lining the boulevard. She felt panic rising within her at the thought of being recaptured and began frantically searching for someplace to hide. Suddenly Amber heard a man shouting behind her, and as she glanced back to see if Caine was following her, she collided with a tall, young man who had just stepped out of one of the shops. She was stunned for a moment, then Amber cried out, “Please, sir. I need your help! He told me he’d kill me if I ran away!” The man looked bewildered, unsure of how to respond, when a middle-aged woman came to the doorway of the Christian bookstore beckoning, “Hurry, son! Bring her inside. She seems to be in a great deal of danger!” Daniel obeyed his mother, leading Amber into the store when they heard a commotion coming from out on the sidewalk. Suddenly Caine bolted through the door, demanding to see his runaway daughter. Amber was whimpering as she cowered behind Leah, who was fervently praying for God’s intervention. As Caine continued his deceptive tirade, a man purchasing books phoned 911. Caine stopped his angry outburst mid-sentence when he heard the man’s conversation with the police, then he knocked over a display as he rushed out the door and became lost in a sea of pedestrians. Leah attempted to comfort Amber, who was crying uncontrollably, knowing she had narrowly eluded a horrendous fate at the hands of a predator. Amber thanked God for answering her prayer by providing the help she so desperately needed. Police officers arrived to question Amber about her relationship to Caine, and when they heard about the trafficking, they called for backup to pursue her kidnapper. The officers asked Amber to come to the station to question her further about the investigation. She was grateful Leah stayed with her to provide support until her parents arrived. Amber anxiously gave a statement to a policewoman at the station, fearful Caine would make good on his threat to kill her. Leah hugged Amber gently to console her as they were being escorted to a small waiting room. They engaged in a superficial conversation at first, and then Amber opened up about what had happened to her the past few days. “I thought Caine loved me,” Amber said with confusion in her voice, “How could I have been so gullible?” Leah responded compassionately, saying, “Child molesters like Caine are very manipulative and tell you what you want to hear. They pretend to be your friend and confidant and encourage you to be involved in a romantic relationship with them. You are still a minor, Amber, so it was Caine’s responsibility as an adult to behave appropriately. There are, however, things you can do to avoid the snares of a predator. You should never be online with a stranger because you don’t know who they really are or why they are contacting you. Talk to your parents or a trusted adult if you have any questions about communicating with someone. There are even blocks for your phone, computer, or other devices to prevent incoming pornography and unwanted content.” Leah sighed and thought of the children who were sold by their parents to sex traffickers, so they could have money to live. If they could experience the horror, violence, neglect, and abuse their children suffer, they may not be so quick to hand them over to these monsters. We must tell parents Jesus loves them, and if they turn their lives over to Him, He will supply all their needs. “I was mad at God for many years,” Leah shared, “for allowing my mother’s boyfriend to molest me. It wasn’t until I started reading the Bible that I realized how much Jesus loves me and didn’t want this to happen. Years ago, God created a perfect universe until Adam and Eve disobeyed Him, and sin came into the world. Now suffering, wickedness, and death are all a part of our existence on earth, but one day God will create a new Heaven and earth where there will be no pain or tears, sin, or death. We were designed to have free will and can choose to obey God or to sin. When someone like Caine decides to behave like a predator, it is not the fault of our Creator, but the heinous act of a sex trafficker. However, because of God’s great love for us, He sent his Son Jesus to be crucified so that He could take the punishment for our sins on Himself. If we confess our sins to God and surrender our life to Him, we become His child, and Jesus comes to dwell in us through the power of the Holy Spirit. He will encourage, lead, and guide us, and someday take us to Heaven to live with Him.” “It says in Psalm 34:18, ‘The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.’ God cares deeply when we suffer from abuse, but He knows we can never be truly free unless we choose to forgive those who have wounded us. Forgiving someone doesn’t mean you’re saying what they’ve done is okay, but you can have peace knowing you have given it over to God. He is in control of all things and will one day make all things right. It wasn’t until I believed God loved me personally and wanted what’s best for me that I could forgive my abuser and extend the same mercy to him that the Lord extends to me.” “God made you unique and special, Amber, and you are so loved by Him. His love is pure and holy, kind, and good, and you’re very precious to God.” “I don’t feel like I deserve His love,” Amber said quietly. “None of us do,” Leah explained, “but it is unconditional, so there isn’t anything we can do that He won’t forgive. I spent many years despising my mother’s boyfriend for what he had done, and my mother for not believing me. I knew bitterness and hate were destroying my life, so I asked Jesus to forgive all my sin. I will never forget what happened to me, but I no longer live each day dwelling on the details of my past. The Lord has given me a purpose to share His love with others, so they’ll find hope and healing as they put their faith in Him. It says in 2 Cor. 1:4 ‘He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.’” Amber had been listening intently and said, “I believe God arranged for me to meet you so that you could be a comfort to me. I don’t want to live with fear and anger in my heart, so I’m asking the Lord to come into my life and make me the person He wants me to be.” Amber closed her eyes and bowed her head, and she began to pray, “Dear Jesus, Thank You for loving me enough to die on the cross to pay for my sin, and rose again. I am sorry for all the things I’ve ever done to displease you. I ask you to forgive my sins and be my Lord and Savior. I need Your help to feel safe again and know who I can trust. Please guide me as I read the Bible and lead me to people who can mentor me in Your Word. I want to live for You, Jesus, and be more like You every day and comfort others when I share what You have done for me. In Jesus’ name, amen.” Leah and Amber began praising the Lord for the young teen’s newfound peace. Then a policeman appeared in the doorway of the waiting room to inform them of Caine’s arrest. He asked Amber if she was willing to try and identify her kidnapper in a lineup. Her face became pale, and she grew fearful of seeing her abductor again, but she remembered Jesus was with her to give courage and strength to aid in the investigation. Amber was elated to hear the girls had been freed and arrangements made for their safe return. There was a joyous reunion when Amber’s parents arrived, and they thanked Leah for taking good care of their daughter. Amber would need to work through the trauma she had endured, but with Jesus as her Savior and friend, she knew that she would heal. She planned to tell others how the Lord had saved her and given her new life in Christ, so they could find hope in trusting in Jesus and someday be with Him in Heaven. By Bev Yellowley
  2. There are many wonderful things in life that bring us joy and contentment. The love of family and friends, the birth of a child, new beginnings, and hard-wrought accomplishments are some of the celebrations we may experience in our lifetime. We all go through difficult times, though, when we lose a loved one through death or divorce or suffer physical or mental anguish. We may become fearful of terrible things that are happening in our world, such as cancer, the loss of a job, violent crimes, or pandemics like the coronavirus. You might be afraid your child will turn to drugs and alcohol or get involved with an inappropriate person they met online. You may also worry about a family member who has a gambling or pornography addiction. We may face trials that are daunting, but we don't have to live in constant fear. There is a God who loves us more than we can ever imagine, and He longs to walk beside us and bring comfort and relief. He's the omnipotent, all-knowing, Creator of the universe, yet His greatest desire is to have a personal relationship with us. Jesus, God's Son, suffered a brutal death on the cross when the punishment for our sin was laid on Him. If we confess our sins to the Lord and surrender our life to Him, we become a child of God, and the Holy Spirit comes to live in us. When we go through painful seasons in our life, we can grow closer to the Lord, as we trust in His amazing grace. Jesus has promised He'll never leave us and will supply all our needs. He cares deeply about everything that concerns us, so if we meditate on Bible verses like the ones below, they will remind us of God's faithfulness and compassion towards us. Psalm 46:1, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” Isaiah 41:10, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Philippians 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Satan is a liar and deceiver and will use any means to tempt us to live in fear and confusion. However, James 4:7 tells us to submit ourselves to God, resist the devil, and he will flee from us. Our circumstances may seem overwhelming at times, but through the power of the Holy Spirit, our evil enemy can be defeated. This power is only available to us, though, if we trust Jesus as our Lord and Savior. Would you like to have your sins forgiven and one day live forever in Heaven? If so, you could pray a prayer similar to this one: Dear Jesus, I know I have sinned against you. Thank you that you died on the cross to pay for my sin then rose again. I ask for Your forgiveness and surrender myself to You. Now I can call on you when I'm afraid, and You will calm my fears. I ask You for your wisdom and strength to fulfill Your will for my life. In Jesus' name. Amen. We can be fearless, as believers in Christ, because we have the Lord on our side. We can have peace in our heart, knowing He is in control and working all things out for our good. By Bev Yellowley
  3. "This is 911. What's your emergency?" inquired the operator responding to the call. “My child is missing!" his mother frantically explained. The operator was concerned and asked, "How long has he been gone?" “I found his backpack inside the door,” Lauren replied with panic in her voice, “so he must've come home from school, but he's not here, and I don't know what happened to him. He's never left before without telling me where he was going!” Tears began to course down Lauren's face as she provided her address so they could begin the arduous search for seven-year-old Caleb. The dispatcher swiftly relayed the critical information to the available officers who arrived at her residence and began to question Lauren about the disappearance of her son. They took in her disheveled appearance and the disarray in her small apartment. There were bottles on the table near the couch and dishes left over from previous meals. Lauren knew her speech was slurred as she responded with the information they requested, but was unsuccessful in her attempt to hide it. She did not want to divulge that she had blacked out before Caleb returned from school and had not awakened until after he was gone. If only I'd been sober, she agonized, my child might not have vanished. Lauren was alarmed when an officer asked her for a recent picture of Caleb to aid in the search. Guilt and shame enveloped her as she admitted she couldn't even find a photo that might help save her son's life. She felt desperate to pour a drink or do some drugs to try to drown out her feelings of worthlessness and self-hate, knowing she would despise herself even more if she did. Lauren felt numb as she prepared to join the search party but was encouraged to stay at her apartment with an officer, in case Caleb tried to contact her. The tension in the room was palpable, as they waited for any news on her child. “Where are you, Caleb?” Lauren cried, fearful it would be dark out soon. She always left a light on when he went to sleep at night and couldn't bear to think of him out there frightened and alone calling out for her but not getting a response. She could envision him lying injured somewhere, and she was helpless to do anything about it! She was overcome with feelings of fear and self-loathing and rushed to her room, dropping to the floor beside her bed, crying inconsolably. “This is all my fault," Lauren sobbed, “if I'd been awake when Caleb came home from school this afternoon, he might be here with me now. How could I have allowed my life to spiral so out of control!” She had married Eric right after high school and thought they would always be together. After he died, though, her world became dark, and she didn't care if she even survived. Lauren had lost her best friend and didn't know how she'd go on, but at times she failed to acknowledge her son had lost his father too. It had been devastating for Caleb when his Dad died, and she hadn't realized how sad and quiet he had become until now. When her husband passed away, her friends would call or visit to offer her comfort and support. After a while, though, they expected her to move on, not recognizing she was paralyzed by her grief. Lauren couldn't seem to communicate that her depression was so all-consuming it was a struggle just to get through the day. She had tried several times to take her life, but God had intervened. Instead of getting help for her depression, she attempted to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol to try to numb the pain. The depression only worsened, though, and made it more difficult for her to work through her grief. Then Lauren developed a tolerance to these substances and required more drugs and greater amounts of alcohol to achieve the same high until she couldn't even function anymore. She had tried many times to stop drinking and doing drugs, but she knew she didn't have the power within herself to make that happen. She had grown up in a home with an alcoholic father and had sworn she would never follow the same path. Lauren was shocked when she thought of how far she had fallen to acquire these substances. She would lie and steal, even betraying her loved ones, to obtain them by any means possible. Lauren knew her behavior was ruining her life, but she cared more about getting high than she did about her family and friends. It's the first thing she thought about when she woke up in the morning until she went to sleep at night. There was no longer any doubt in her mind she was addicted to drugs and alcohol and was sure her husband would be sad to see what had happened to her and their son. Lauren realized if she didn't change these behaviors, she could lose Caleb and pleaded with God to give her another chance to make it up to him. She wondered why she'd refused to surrender to God, who was waiting to heal her wounded heart and help her win over her addictions. Why did she insist on doing things her way when she was making such a mess of everything? Hadn't she already lost enough? Lauren recognized there were consequences to the things she'd done in the past and could never recover the time she had squandered with her son, but the thought of a fresh start, a new beginning, was almost too amazing to imagine. She knew God's love was so great He sent His Son to be crucified for her sin. She had made many bad choices, though, and didn't know how He could ever forgive her. She recalled a pastor on TV saying, if we believe our sin cannot be forgiven, we are saying Jesus' death on the cross was not enough to pay for our sin. Also, if we think we can't overcome our addictions, we don't believe the Holy Spirit is powerful enough to give us victory over them. Eric's mother Rose had shared with her daughter-in-law Bible verses which said, “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us,” Ephesians 3:20 and in Romans 8:37, “…in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” Lauren wanted to be free from all her sin and live in Heaven with Jesus someday, so she bowed her head and began to pray, “Dear Jesus, I am sorry I have sinned against You and refused to let You be the Lord of my life. I've allowed drugs and alcohol to control me, instead of letting You help me work through my pain. I surrender myself to You and ask You to deliver me from the substances that have kept me in bondage for so long. Thank you, Lord, now I can conquer my addictions through the power of the Holy Spirit and live in a way that is pleasing to You. In Jesus' name. Amen.” Peace and joy filled Lauren's heart, unlike anything she'd ever experienced. She'd been waking up every morning feeling defeated and overwhelmed by regrets from her past, but she had become a child of God and would encourage herself with verses which said she was righteous in His sight, deeply loved and precious to Him. Instead of continuing to live with discouragement and despair, she now had hope for the future. Lauren knew her problems had not disappeared, and she desperately needed God's help to find Caleb, but He had promised to lead and guide her and never leave her alone. The Lord had a plan for her and things He wanted her to accomplish, so she'd have to stay clean and sober to fulfill His will for her life. Recently she'd heard a recovering addict say whenever he felt compelled to drink or take drugs, he would read a passage of Scripture, and it worked to refocus his mind. She would pray for clear thinking and God's infinite wisdom as they continued the search for her lost little boy. Fear began to rise within her as she wondered what could've happened to Caleb. She recalled a verse in Jeremiah 33:3, which said, “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” She believed God was omniscient, so she knelt by her bed fervently praying He would reveal Caleb's location. Lauren quietly waited on Him, then praised the Lord when she heard Him speak. She rushed to the front door startling the policewoman who was sitting by the phone and shared with her the exciting news as they hurried to her car. They sped down the road about a mile, then came to an abrupt halt in front of a local park. Lauren bolted out of the car, running down a path, calling Caleb's name. She quickly scanned the area searching for any sign of her child, when she noticed a small figure lying on a bench across the field wearing clothes that were identical to Caleb's. Lauren raced towards the park bench, terrified of what she might discover when suddenly a calming peace washed over her, and she realized God would be with her no matter what she may encounter. As Lauren neared the motionless figure, she knew it was her son, and with tears in her eyes reached down to gather him up in her arms. “Oh, Caleb,” she cried, “are you all right?” The park seemed deathly quiet, then her child gently stirred, and turning towards her said, “Mom, you're here. I'm so glad to see you! I prayed Jesus would send you to take me home! ” Lauren was thrilled to know her son was alive, and after all she had done, Caleb had asked the Lord to use her to rescue him. She hugged her child tight, saying, “Caleb, I love you. Are you okay? Can you tell me what happened to you?” “I was hungry when I got home from school,” he explained, “and I couldn't find anything to eat. I kept calling your name, but you wouldn't wake up, so I started walking to Grandma's house because I knew she'd take care of me.” When Lauren heard this, it broke her heart, and she vowed to do whatever it took to become the mother her child deserved. Caleb continued, “I walked to the end of our street, and I became confused. I didn't know which way to go, and there was no one around to help me. I was tired and hungry, and all alone, and I began to cry. Then I saw the park up ahead where you and Dad used to take me to play. I walked through some bushes to get to a bench and turned to look as a police car drove past. I yelled and waved as I ran towards the road, but they didn't see me and just drove away. It was getting dark, and I was afraid until I remembered Grandma saying, I could call on Jesus, and He would hear my prayer. I closed my eyes and talked to God, then laid down on the bench while I waited for you.” She was amazed at Caleb's faith, grateful the Lord had protected him. Lauren didn't want to interrupt this reunion, but there was something she needed to ask her son. She looked lovingly into the eyes of her child and said, “Caleb, I'm sorry for the way I've been acting, and I asked God to forgive me for neglecting you. Grandma Rose has agreed to stay with us for a while, so I can get the help I need to be a good parent to you. Can you forgive me, Caleb, for not taking better care of you?” He nodded and smiled and told her he loved her, and she thanked the Lord for a second chance. Lauren knew that through the power of God, she would be victorious over her addictions and become the woman He wanted her to be. She'd keep her eyes fixed on Jesus and not on her problems, and then she'd live her life to glorify Him. Jeremiah 29:11 “' For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” by Bev Yellowley
  4. I'm Suffering God. Do You Care? By Bev Yellowley Suffering is something we all experience at some point in our lives. We can suffer in many different ways. Our pain can be primarily physical, or we can suffer in mental and emotional ways. Suffering can be temporary but may still be very painful. We always feel very relieved when it comes to an end. Then, there's the severe, constant, unending suffering that goes on day after day, year after year. There may not be any hope that our circumstances will improve while on this earth. At times like this we might ask, “Does God care that I'm suffering? Are all his decisions loving and fair? Is God in control? Can I trust Him?” If we believe the Bible which says that God is in control of all things, He is loving and wise, perfect and just, then the answer to these questions is a definite “Yes!” We may not understand why we're suffering, but we can trust God confident in knowing He will work all things out for our good. We may wonder, “Is anything being accomplished by this suffering? Why is God allowing it to happen?” There is a purpose in suffering! Circumstances in our lives can be consequences of our sin and the poor choices we make. But, sometimes we suffer when we haven't done anything wrong. God wants us to use these adversities to refine, mature, complete and perfect us. If we're wise, we won't waste this opportunity. The Bible says when suffering comes, “count it all joy.” A lot can be accomplished if we choose to surrender to God's will for our lives. We read in 2 Corinthians 12:9 that, God's “...grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses so that Christ's power may rest on me.” We may be physically or emotionally weak, but God says we're strong because of His great power working in us. In Hebrews 4:16, it says, “Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” God knows how much we suffer and cares deeply for us. He'll give us all we need to come through our trials victoriously. Revelation 21:4 says, God “... will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain.” It's exciting to know there will be no more pain or sadness in heaven. We will be free from all our suffering. We read in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” I know that in my suffering, it gives me great joy and hope to know that because my sins are forgiven not only will I see Jesus in heaven someday, but I have Him with me now to comfort, encourage and guide me. We'll never know how much Jesus suffered for us, when He died on the cross, to take the punishment for our sins. His sacrifice provided the way for us to have eternal life if we believe He died and rose and trust Him to save us from our sins. It says in Romans 10:9-10 “If you declare with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Would you like to know your sins are forgiven and you're going to heaven? If so, you can say a prayer similar to this one: Dear Jesus, I know I have sinned. I believe you died on the cross to pay for my sin and rose again. I turn away from my sin and trust you as my Savior. I am now a child of God and I will see you in heaven someday. Amen.
  5. A Thief in the Night By Bev Yellowley I was terrified, paralyzed by fear, unlike anything I've ever known! I stood motionless willing myself to take another breath. I tried to cry out but was unable to speak. Even if I'd been able to communicate, there was no one to talk to; I was alone. I'd been by myself many times in my life, but I'd never experienced anything like this until now. It was isolation so extreme I didn't know if I could survive it. In the dim light around me, I could see that I was standing on the side of a lonely road, feeling vulnerable and fragile as I waited there wondering what was going to happen. Suddenly, a car drove slowly past me. I turned to look and was horrified to see my parents and older brother and sister inside. They were leaving without me! I tried to scream, “Wait for me! Don't leave me behind!” but I heard the words only in my head. The car faded from view, and I knew I'd never see my family again. I hung my head, and as I looked down, I noticed a puddle near my feet. Gazing into the water, I saw in my reflection that I was just a boy. The light dissipated; I was in total darkness now. It was an inky blackness so intense it felt like an evil presence. My mind filled with dread, and I started to panic when I imagined what it would be like to be trapped here. I'd only been in this place a short time, but I didn't feel like I could stand it any longer. I drew my hand over my eyes, and when I pulled it away, I was surprised to find it wet with tears. I began to stir and then glanced around feeling disoriented. My heart was pounding as I relived the events that had just occurred. They still seemed so real, so vivid in my mind. I realized now this had all been a terrible nightmare. I sighed, so relieved to wake up and find that I was at home lying in my bed. But, what could have happened to cause this dark dream? Was it because of the movie I'd seen at my friend Kerry's church last night? The message presented in the film was that Jesus would return someday for those who believe in Him and trust Him as their Savior. Then, He'll take them to Heaven to live with Him forever. I remember thinking afterward this sounds like something you'd read in a science fiction novel. But, my mind kept coming back to one very important thought; what if it's true? What if Jesus is going to return? Will I be going to Heaven or discover one day that my family and some of my friends have vanished, and I'm left here without them? I could remember how terrifying the nightmare had been; the darkness, agony, and desolation were overwhelming. “Was that a glimpse of hell?” I wondered, “I couldn't imagine being in a place like that forever. I'd experienced just a few moments of horror there, and I felt like I'd go crazy. But, if I'm not going to Heaven, then according to Kerry's Youth Pastor, I'll be going to that terrible place of punishment called hell. After the movie, he gave a talk on how you can be sure you're going to Heaven. I listened to what he had to say but didn't take it seriously at the time. I wanted to talk to someone about all that had been going on, so I went to visit Kerry. I'd known her for many years and had recently met her family when I started going to their church. I drove to her family's home, and when Kerry answered the door, she invited me to stay for lunch. I agreed and followed her to the dining room where everyone was already seated at the table. As we began to eat, I found Kerry's eyes watching me. She leaned over and whispered, “What's wrong Will? You're never this quiet!” At first, I was reluctant to open up about my haunting dream, but once I started talking the words came rushing out. As I began to explain the nightmare, all the emotions I'd suffered during that time came flooding back. I felt like a frightened, young child desperately wanting the chance to see my family again. When I stopped speaking, the room was eerily quiet. “What do you think of the dream?” I said, trying to illicit a response from the family. “Wow, that was creepy,” her younger brother replied. “That must’ve been terrible!” her mother exclaimed. “I’ve never been so afraid in all my life,” I softly responded, “I can't stop thinking about what would happen to me if Jesus were to return.” I shrugged then added, “But, why should I care about the future? I'm a young guy with a lot of years ahead of me!” Then, with concern in her voice, Kerry said, “God is the only one who knows how much time we have left and when Jesus will return for His followers. In Matthew 24:42-44 Jesus said, “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” Jesus could return at any moment. Are you ready to go to Heaven, Will?” Everyone in the room grew silent. Suddenly, I didn't feel like I could sit there any longer and quickly got to my feet. I pushed back my chair and told them I needed to go for a walk. I hurried to the door and rushed outside wanting to be alone to think about what Kerry had said to me. In my dream was I seeing what it would be like to be in hell? I shuddered at the thought. Why would anyone want to be in a place of torment? The Youth Leader had said we have a choice about where we'll spend eternity. We'll either be in Heaven or hell. “God doesn't want anyone to go to hell,” he'd said, “That's why He sent His precious Son to earth to die on the cross and raised Him from the dead to offer us eternal life. The Lord Jesus was taking the punishment for our sins on Himself as He hung there suffering for us. Romans 3:23 tells us, we've all sinned, and our sin separates us from a holy God. But if we put our faith in Him and turn from our sin we'll become a child of God, and can now go to Heaven when we die or when Jesus returns.” “I definitely don't want to go to hell!” I thought. “But, if I want to go to Heaven I should trust in Jesus, ask Him to forgive my sins and give my life to Him.” Should I choose to take Jesus as my Lord and Savior or live life on my own terms not surrendering to anyone? I was wrestling with this decision. I had all the information I needed to make a choice but was still unsure of what I wanted to do. The sky became dark and foreboding as I made my way back to the house. Lights started coming on in the neighborhood even though it was mid-afternoon. It was unusually quiet on the street, and I began to walk a little faster toward the house. I could feel a fear rising in me that I could not explain. When I arrived at Kerry's house, I was about to walk up their sidewalk when the garage door suddenly opened, and I saw Kerry's Dad backing their car out of the driveway. As he slowly pulled out into the road, I could see Kerry and her family inside. I waved to them, but they didn't see me. They hadn't mentioned they were leaving, and I wondered if they'd come looking for me. As the car drove slowly down the street, I started running as fast as I could attempting to keep up with them. I was frantically waving my arms and shouting to try and get their attention, but I felt helpless to stop the accelerating vehicle. Finally, Kerry looked out the back window and noticed me running behind them. She waved at me and our eyes locked for a moment. Then, suddenly everyone in the car was gone. The whole family instantly disappeared. I watched in disbelief as the speeding car left unattended continued on a short distance and crashed into a telephone pole on the side of the road. I rushed over to the crumpled vehicle and looked inside knowing what I'd find. There were no passengers. No one had escaped they'd just vanished! I stumbled in the grass and fell to my knees horrified at what I'd just witnessed. “Is this another dream?” I wondered. But, I knew with great certainty and deep regret that Jesus had just returned, and I'd been left behind! 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 “For the Lord Himself will come down from Heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.”
  6. When Darkness Reigns By Bev Yellowley His black hooded robe flowed behind him as he strode toward the darkened building with great purpose in his step. There was evil all around him like an aura of hatred and wickedness. A chill went down her spine, and she suddenly felt so cold. He crept slowly past her; she couldn't breathe. Then, he enticed her to follow him on down the road. She was unaware of his presence not knowing that every step she took could lead to her destruction. He looked back at her with a cold, sinister sneer. If she had seen this, she would’ve been terrified by its intensity. But, he had the power to draw her to him, to make her captive to do his will. Her head was bent low as she moved down the road. She felt heaviness deep in her soul that she could not explain. She'd felt this burden all her life and longed to be free, but she'd given up hope of that long ago. Lucifer turned and looked at the woman following just steps behind him. He was staring right at her, but she couldn't see him nor could she hear his voice. But, he could convey his messages to her; she could hear his thoughts in her mind. He laughed when he thought how easy it was to lead her astray by his words. She might even think what she'd heard were her own thoughts or maybe they were from God. He gave the woman a hateful look as he thought of his plan to destroy her. Then, he turned around and walked down the path that led to an old building. Entering the abandoned warehouse was like walking into a tomb. As her eyes were adjusting to the dim light, she could see the fearful, anguished eyes of those with whom she shared this space. They were homeless for many different reasons, yet they all shared the same need for shelter. But, it was not a safe environment in which to live; some of the residents would do anything to get drugs or alcohol. At that moment, an evil looking man with vile intentions tried to force her to buy the drugs in his hand. Satan rushed to her side urging, “Go ahead. Try them! They'll make you feel good and help you forget about all of your problems.” Julie was tempted, but she knew from experience if she took them her problems would only get worse. She had friends who had dangerous addictions. They seemed desperate to quit but helpless to do so. When she refused to buy them, the man was livid and suddenly lunged to attack her. In fear for her life, she cried, “God, please help me!” Instantly, a tall figure appeared and seemed to blind the man momentarily so she could move away from him. Then, without a word the man who had rescued her just disappeared. She quickly raced to the door and went out into the night. As she made her escape, she felt her heart pounding and looked back to make sure she wasn't being followed. When she couldn't run anymore, she collapsed against a vacant building and sat down in the dirt. The wind was bitter as she huddled close to the wall wondering what had happened in that warehouse a few moments ago. Did God send an angel to help her escape? “Why would God care about me?” she cried, “I've made such a mess of my life. What will happen to my baby and me? How are we going to survive?” There was a sickening grin on Lucifer's face; he delighted in all of her suffering. Just then the baby kicked and with tears streaming down her face, she thought back to a happier, carefree time in her life. She began dating Cameron the last year of high school. He was so cute and fun to be around. She was hanging out with him one day laughing, talking and enjoying their time together, but when it was quiet, caught up in the moment, she chose to give her love away. She hadn't planned for this to happen. She had wanted to wait until marriage, but now she felt sad knowing she had lost something precious. She was changed forever. It was a rainy spring day when she learned that she was going to have a baby. Cameron seemed to accept the news, and their relationship continued again. She felt overwhelmed and wondered how she’d be a good mother when she was struggling just to provide for herself. Lucifer tormented her day and night tempting her to have an abortion saying, “You must not go through with this pregnancy! It's not the right time to have a baby. How do you think you're going to take care of it?” She'd heard being a single parent was difficult, and she wished she'd listened to God and waited until she was married to have a family. But, she was expecting now and knew God would not approve of an abortion. She'd read in the Bible in Psalm 139:13-16, that He created each person as a viable human being right from conception. She struggled with her decision, but in the end, she couldn't take her child's life no matter what obstacles she may face. Her parents though shocked at first wanted her to keep the baby but raise it without Cameron. They'd seen the bruises and tried to warn her she'd be better off without him, but she was in love and knew he'd be a great father. Lucifer had been there all along pleased that she was still with Cameron. He'd often talked to her boyfriend encouraging him to take his anger out on her. When Cameron proposed, she was so happy and couldn't wait to get married. They eloped and started their new life together in a small basement apartment in the inner city. At first, she was enjoying married life, but then Cameron began drinking more and staying out late. One night he didn't come home at all. When the police arrived, they said Cameron had been in a fight with another patron at the bar he'd visited last night. She was devastated but not surprised when they told her he was dead. She almost had a miscarriage that night, and this made her more determined than ever to keep going if only for her child. She already loved this baby more than she thought she could. She went to her parents to see if they would help her, but they refused. She found a job in a grocery store but lost it soon after when she became ill from the pregnancy. When she could no longer pay the rent, she was forced to live out on the streets. She never thought this could happen to her. Her life had gotten so out of control! She knew she'd done things that wouldn't please God, and she'd made some choices she'd always regret. Now she'd soon have a baby to raise, and she didn't know how she could do it. She was choking back tears as she tried to stand up and move away from the building. She'd been sitting for so long she wasn't sure she could get up unassisted. She would not get help from her evil companion; Satan was reveling in her misery. She was startled when she felt something wet on her cheeks. She'd been staring at the hard ground as she trudged along and didn't notice it had started to snow. She could feel the temperature dropping and pulled her worn coat tightly around her. She began to worry about where she would spend the night. She knew she could never go back to the warehouse. It wasn't safe for her or the baby. Her steps came more slowly as she tried to maneuver through the snow covered street. Then, Julie became dizzy and gave out a cry as she stumbled and fell to the ground. A man shoveling snow outside the local Christian Mission saw what had happened and ran over to help. He reached out his hand to lift her back up while voicing concern for her and her child. Julie assured him she wasn't hurt and gladly agreed to warm up in the Mission. Soon wrapped in a blanket and sipping hot coffee, she thanked everyone for their kindness to her. They were discussing her baby and plans for the future when someone mentioned the Pastor's weekly sermon was about to begin. Julie felt drawn to these people and the love they had shown her, so she asked her new friends if she could join them. She began to rise from the chair, but Lucifer's words seemed to force her back down. “You must not listen to the Pastor! There's no truth to his words. You'll only be hurt by his lies!” he spat out the words with fiery venom, “You must get out of here right now! Get up! I'll show you the way!” With an evil stare when she would not obey, he followed her into the chapel. She found a seat and was waiting for the Pastor to speak when one of the women she'd met earlier leaned over and asked, “Julie, we know you're having a rough time could we help find housing for you and your baby?” Tears of joy filled her eyes as she nodded and smiled. She had cried out to God for help, and He had answered in a greater way than she could have imagined. The music started, and she was enjoying it so much she even found herself joining in on some of the songs. As Julie began to relax, she realized how exhausted she was and hoped she'd stay awake during the service. But, she didn't need to be concerned, for she was riveted by what the Pastor had to say. “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour,” the Bible says in 1 Peter 5:8. Satan or Lucifer as he was first called was the most beautiful angel God had created, and he had authority over all other angels. However, Satan wanted to be like God; he and other rebellious angels, now called demons or fallen angels, all sinned against God. So, He cast them out of his presence, and they fell “...like lightning from heaven,” it says in Luke 10:18. “The great dragon... that ancient serpent called the devil or Satan... leads the whole world astray,” it says in Revelation 12:9. Satan is “... the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient,” we read in Ephesians 2:2. He's the prince of darkness and wants to destroy us. He hates God and will do everything in his power to keep people from following Him. It says in John 8:44, the devil has “... no truth in him... for he is a liar and the father of lies.” Satan can masquerade as an angel of light and will use any means to entice us to sin. He tempts us to have impure thoughts when we dwell on inappropriate things we've seen on TV, the Internet or magazines. He brings memories or images to our minds of unwholesome things we've seen in the past. Satan is pleased when we give in to lustful temptations. He attacks us when we're weak, tired or lonely. He knows that's when we're the most vulnerable and open to temptation. The devil is cunning, wicked and deceitful. He can be very convincing with the messages he sends to us. We need to be on guard against his evil schemes. He tempts us to keep items we haven't paid for, worry instead of trusting God and be lazy instead of accomplishing what God has planned for us to do. Satan loves to divide people and cause derision. He reminds us of hurtful things others have done to us, and he works to destroy the relationships we have with our families, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. He tempts us to speak rudely or take offense easily at something that's been said to us. Satan will do all he can to prevent us from forgiving others and especially ourselves. We need to escape from the trap of the devil who has taken us captive to do his will it says, in 2 Timothy 2:26. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms,” the Bible says in Ephesians 6:12. The devil has limited power in this world, but God is in total control, and one day Satan and his demons will be banished into the lake of fire. We read in Colossians 1:13 that God has “... rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves.” If we want to be free from the sin that enslaves us and have God's power to win over Satan we must submit ourselves to God, resist the devil and he will flee from us, it says in James 4:7. When we ask the Lord Jesus to forgive our sins, the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in us. Now we have His power to help us resist the attacks of Satan. Julie wanted so much to be free from the burden of sin she'd felt all of her life. She longed to be cleansed and have real peace with God. She was ready to give her life over to Him. She'd made her decision and started to pray. Then Lucifer hissed, “No, you must not surrender to God! He wants to control you. He'll ruin your life!” She'd just learned from the sermon that Satan's a liar, so she called on God for the strength that she needed. She continued to pray, “Dear Jesus, I want...” but then stopped when the labor pains started and would not subside. The nurse at the Mission rushed over to help her and stayed with Julie as they rode to the hospital. The Doctor determined the birth would be soon, but Julie was losing a lot of blood. They were giving transfusions but weren't sure they could save her. The baby was in distress, so the Doctor decided he would need to do a C-section. He gave Julie a reassuring nod as he went to scrub for surgery. She was weak and very concerned for her child, but there was something she knew she needed to do. She’d waited too long to surrender to God. She had to be free from the bondage of sin that had plagued her since birth. She wanted new life in Christ and a home in heaven waiting for her. She knew she must give her life over to God, so she prayed in a voice that was soft but resolved. “Dear Jesus,” she said, “I'm sorry I've sinned against you. Thank you for dying to take the punishment for my sins. I ask you to forgive me, and I surrender my life to you. Amen.” As the C-section quickly got under way to try to save the baby's life, Julie spoke a few words, and then she fell silent. At that moment, the alarm on her heart monitor went off, and the Doctor shouted, “She's flat lined! Quick get the paddles!” They worked to revive her while delivering the baby, but Julie wasn’t responding to treatment. They'd given up hope of bringing her back when suddenly the infant gave a loud cry. Something inside of Julie stirred; it was a motherly instinct she could not ignore. To their amazement, she opened her eyes and longingly looked for her child. Holding out the baby to Julie, the doctor smiled and announced, “It's a girl!” The new mother was thrilled as she gazed at her daughter. “What will you call her?” a nurse gently asked. “I'm naming her Hope,” she proudly exclaimed, “I've surrendered myself completely to God and for the first time in my life, I finally have hope!”
  7. A Rude Awakening By Bev Yellowley The last thing that he remembered before he blacked out was his car spinning out of control on the icy road that cold winter morning. As he slowly regained consciousness, he could hear the paramedics frantically trying to reach him inside the vehicle to treat his injuries. They knew they'd need the “Jaws of Life” to free him from his mangled car. Then one of the medics said, “They'd better hurry! I don't know how much longer the man can hold on!” When he heard the dire words, he was in shock! He wondered if things were really that bad. He knew his injuries were serious, but could he actually die here on this busy highway? His life was fast-paced and had been that way for so many years that he didn't know how to live any other way. He'd been very ill a few times in his life, but he'd never come this close to death until now. He felt himself drifting in and out of consciousness. The paramedics were very concerned that he was still trapped in his vehicle. They tried to reassure him that he'd be out of there soon, but he didn’t know if he could wait that long. He knew he'd lost a lot of blood and was going into shock. Now that he might be facing death, he realized he'd never taken the time, never really wanted to think about what would happen to him when he died. He had planned financially for his family, but had he prepared for his eternal destination? He'd been raised to believe if he was good enough, if he weren’t too sinful, he'd make it into heaven. But, he'd been listening to a radio program in his car just before the accident, and it made him question what he'd been taught. He didn't usually tune into a Christian station, but his wife had left it on when she borrowed his car yesterday. His hand reached for the radio so that he could turn to his favorite station, but his interest was piqued when he heard the Pastor say, “There isn't anything we can do to earn our way into heaven being good won't get us there, the Bible says in Ephesians 2:8,9. In Romans 3:23, it says, we've all sinned, and this separates us from a Holy God. If we haven't confessed our sins to God before we die, we can't go to heaven. Sadly, we'll go to a terrible place of punishment called hell.” The pastor continued, “God loves us so much, and He wants us to live with Him forever in heaven, so He sent His only Son to die for us. Jesus took the full punishment for our sins on Himself as He hung on the cross suffering in ways we'll never understand. If we ask God to forgive our sins, we're no longer separated from Him and one day we'll see Jesus in heaven. We can't do anything to earn our way there; the Bible says it's a gift of God.” He'd received many gifts in his life. He didn't remember what most of them were now, but this gift of salvation, the forgiveness of sins would last forever. He began to think about the relationship he had with God. He knew he'd spent his life living only for himself never doing anything to please the Lord. He was sure if he were to die right now, he wouldn't be going to heaven. But, was he willing to confess his sins and let God be in control of his life? He was trying to come to a decision when he heard a voice call out, “They've cut him out of the car. Let's move! We need to get him onto the stretcher!” They started to lift him when pain gripped his chest, and he felt himself fall into a darkened abyss. As he regained consciousness, he heard the medics say, “We have his heart going again, but he's bleeding profusely from the gash in his leg. I'm not sure he's going to make it!” “Could I really die today?” he wondered, “I thought I had more time to decide if I should surrender myself to God or choose to spend my life without Him. Am I prepared to go to hell if I die?” The Pastor said it's a place of utter darkness and desolation. There's no love or joy in hell only sadness, crying, and despair. But, Heaven is a place where there's no sin, no pain or tears, only perfect love, peace and joy that will never end. “What I'm excited about the most,” the Pastor said, “is knowing that in heaven, I'll see Jesus face to face.” “Everyone who has prayed to have their sins forgiven will be going to heaven,” he thought, “including my wife and kids. I'm the only one in my family who won't be going there someday.” The paramedics looked worried as they worked diligently to try to control the bleeding in his leg. “This is it!” he thought, “What a rude awakening. I never thought I would die this young!” Realizing he might go at any moment, he decided to give his life to God. He wanted to feel real peace inside and be free from the guilt of all his sin. He knew that whether he survived or not, he wanted his life to be right with God. He was sorry he hadn't surrendered to Him years ago, but he was going to do so now. He closed his eyes and prayed aloud although it was getting hard to breathe and talking was becoming difficult. “Dear Jesus,” he said, “I know I have sinned. I've spent my life wandering far from you, and I want to come home. I ask for your forgiveness, and I give my life to you.” He opened his eyes and smiled. He felt a peace wash over him that was unlike anything he'd ever known. He thought of how excited his wife would be when she heard he'd finally given his life to Jesus. He was thinking about how he'd tell her when his heart stopped beating. The medics tried feverishly to revive him, but he was gone. His body lay on the cold stretcher, but his soul soared instantly to heaven. The paramedics, bystanders, and emergency workers all stared in shocked disbelief. Then a car raced up to the scene. A woman got out of the vehicle and rushed over to where the paramedics were standing. “Is my husband okay?” she asked, her voice full of emotion. No one wanted to answer her. Then, she noticed a body draped with a white sheet lying near a crumpled car. She hurried over to the vehicle and stared anxiously at the lifeless form lying on the stretcher. She turned and looked at the officer waiting nearby silently pleading with him to give her the answer she so desperately wanted. His eyes showed concern as he lifted the sheet from her husband's face. She started crying and called out, “Oh Paul! I can't believe it! If only you'd given your life to Jesus, then I'd be with you someday in heaven.” Heartbroken, she fell to her knees beside him crying softly now. Then, she felt a gentle hand on her shoulder. She looked up, and though her vision was blurred by her tears, she saw a man look at her compassionately and say, “I'm one of the medics that took care of your husband. I'm also a Christian, and I want you to know that just before he died, I heard your husband confess his sins to God and give his life to Him.” She was shocked for a moment. Then she slowly smiled tears of joy now flowing down her face. She would miss Paul terribly, but she was thrilled to know she would see him again in heaven someday.
  8. It's Never Too Late To Obey God By Bev Yellowley Elijah was afraid and running for his life. The Queen had sent him a message saying she wanted him dead. King Ahab and Queen Jezebel worshiped the pagan god Baal, and they led the Israelites into this heathen practice. Earlier that day, Elijah went to see King Ahab to tell him to gather together the prophets of Baal and Asherah and meet him on Mount Carmel. Elijah instructed the heathen prophets to build a stone altar, lay a bull on the stones and call on their god to set fire to the sacrifice. Elijah told the people to prepare his altar and pour 12 large jars of water onto the offering and the wood. Then, Elijah began to pray and said, “The god who answers by fire, He is God.” Elijah and the followers of Baal prepared their altars and cried out to their gods. All day long the heathen prophets prayed, danced and even cut themselves to try to get his attention. Baal did not respond, but God answered when Elijah called out to Him in prayer. Fire fell from heaven and consumed the sacrifice, wood, stones, and soil and even licked up the water that filled a trench they had dug around the base of the altar. When the Israelites saw this, they fell to the ground and cried, “The LORD He is God!” It must have been amazing to witness God's power and majesty that day. Then, God told Elijah to have the prophets of Baal killed because of their disobedience to God. When King Ahab heard this, he raced home and told the Queen all that had transpired. She was furious and sent a message to Elijah warning him that by this time tomorrow he'd be dead! Elijah was terrified when he heard the Queen's words. He took off running and traveled to a desert a day’s walk from Beersheba. He saw a broom tree there and sat down under its shade praying, “I've had enough Lord. I want to die.” Elijah laid down under the tree and fell asleep. An angel sent by the Lord woke him to give him food and water; he was revived. He left and traveled 40 more days until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. He found a cave there and went inside for the night. God spoke to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He replied, “I have worked hard for you, God. The Israelites have turned against you. I am the only one left, and now they're trying to kill me too.” Then, God showed Himself to Elijah not in a mighty wind or an earthquake nor in the fire he sent on the mountain that day. God spoke to him in a gentle whisper and asked him again, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” In fear and despair, Elijah cried out to God reminding Him that despite all his hard work the Israelites had rebelled against Him and now there was a plot to take his life! He was concerned there would be no one left to carry on God's work if he was gone. God told Elijah to return to Beersheba. Then, He surprised him with the news that there were 7,000 men in Israel who were not worshiping Baal. Elijah was not alone in serving God. In this passage from 1 Kings 18 and 19, God showed His great power and glory when He sent fire from heaven to consume the sacrifice and everything around it. But, now Elijah was on the run from a vengeful Queen. He was exhausted, hungry and felt like he was all alone. Elijah thought he was the only prophet of God left in Israel. He finally stopped running and settled in a cave for the night. God spoke to him and asked, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” God wanted him to know He was sovereign and would protect him from his enemies. He did not need to run away. Elijah had just experienced an amazing miracle on Mount Carmel, but he did not trust that the God who set the sacrifice ablaze was the same God who could protect and guide him now. Could God be saying to you, “What are you doing here?” It might make you question how you've gotten to this place in your life. You feel like you're just barely making it through the day, and you don't have the time or energy to be involved in a ministry. God knows how you feel, and He understands how many responsibilities you have every day. If there's something Gods wants you to do, He will help you find the time and give you the strength you need to accomplish His work. It says in Philippians 1:6, “... He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” You might already be in God's will doing what He has asked you to do. But, what if God has more He wants you to achieve. Maybe you've been involved in a ministry you thought was right for you. You believed it was where God wanted you to serve. But lately, you've been hearing from God that He has a different work for you to do. You can easily settle into a routine and be involved in things you think would please God but be totally missing His will for you. It's never too late to obey God. God is waiting, longing for you to come to Him in complete submission, and ask Him what His plan is for your life. He delights in answering prayer. Maybe you feel the Lord is asking you, “What are you doing here?” You think you've gotten off course; you're not in the center of His will. It's never too late to obey God. You can surrender your life to Him maybe for the first time or in a new way today. It will be a decision you'll never regret.
  9. I’ll See You Again By Bev Yellowley I couldn’t wait to see you Just a few more hours to drive We got a call you were close to death Let me hear your voice one more time. You fell into a coma I talked to you while you slept As the hours went by you slipped away ‘Till you took your final breath But, I’ll see you again In a place beyond compare Where Jesus is the King God’s love is everywhere No sorrow, no more pain In a place of brilliant light Believers are all gathered there Never have to say goodbye As your time on earth came to an end Your work on earth was done You served the Lord so faithfully Your rewards are yet to come When I was young you prayed with me Jesus forgave my sins He’s my Savior; I’m God’s child The Holy Spirit lives within Someday I’ll be in Heaven Seeing Jesus face-to-face I’ll see you standing next to me And I’ll welcome your embrace Until our grand reunion I’ll serve Him faithfully He has a work for me to do‘ Till my time on earth’s complete God says He’ll heal our broken heart And it comforts me to know You’re safe in the arms of Jesus Now you’re finally Home.
  10. A Glimpse of Heaven By Bev Yellowley The ambulance raced toward the Trauma Center, its' flashing lights alerting drivers of their dire circumstances. Despite the skilled efforts of the paramedics, if they didn't get to the hospital soon, they knew this man was going to die. Suddenly, he gasped for breath, and his heart beat one last time. While medics fervently tried to revive him, the man felt his soul leaving his body. He was shocked to see his lifeless form below him, as his spirit quickly ascended into the heavens. His body looked small as earth faded from view, and he broke through the clouds and knew he was home. It is so peaceful and serene here, Luke thought, as he took in his new surroundings. He could not have imagined a place this perfect and wanted to live in Heaven forever. Luke sighed contentedly and realized all the pain, anxiety, and depression he'd been experiencing had just disappeared. An indescribable joy welled up inside him, and he knew it would never fade away. A brilliant light illuminated the Heavens, as the glory of God filled the celestial city. The grass was a lush, flawless carpet, like an emerald sea beneath a picturesque sky. Species of trees both familiar and new stood majestic and strong in the pristine air. Luke saw beautiful flowers in fields and displays, in more colors than he'd ever seen on the earth. He heard music so glorious that he longed to join in the chorus to worship and praise the great King of Kings. Then, Jesus, the Son of God, appeared. His face was as radiant as the sun, and His clothes were gleaming white. He walked with such nobility and confidence that Luke knew he was in the presence of royalty. The Lord was so humble and kind though Luke felt drawn to Him and fell to his knees to worship his King. Jesus smiled at Luke, as He raised him to his feet, gently calling him by name. Luke was overwhelmed by the intensity of the love he felt coming from his Savior. It was pure, powerful and unconditional and he was sure he'd never experienced anything like this in his life. Jesus knew all the things he'd ever done, but had forgiven him and loved him in a far greater way than he could even fathom. He was trying to formulate the words to express his gratitude when he looked up and saw a tall angelic being walking towards him with a small girl at his side. As they drew closer, he was thrilled to see it was his four-year-old niece Lily who had died in a drunk driving accident two months earlier. Lily's face lit up when she saw Jesus and her uncle up ahead, and she hurried over and gave them each a warm hug. Luke was overcome with joy and cried out, “Lily! It's so good to see you again!” She quickly responded, “It's good to see you too, Uncle Luke!” He looked around in awe and exclaimed, “Heaven's even more amazing than I thought it would be!” Lily nodded her head in agreement, and Luke realized there was no verbal response she could give that could accurately convey what she was thinking. She had so much to communicate to Luke, but it wasn't always with words. He was aware of everyone's thoughts and could read what was on Lily's mind. Luke knew Lily was full of joy living in Heaven with Jesus. She reveled in His love for her and was excited to spend eternity with Him. Lily's countenance was bright, as she gazed up at Jesus, and the look of pure love she saw on His face made her feel well-loved and secure in His care. Luke no longer questioned why God took Lily the day of the accident. He now understood God's decision was loving and wise, and He was working it all out for good. Jesus invited Luke to go for a walk, and they talked about many things. Lily was skipping ahead of them, enjoying the colorful flowers along the path. Luke couldn't believe the Creator of the universe, his Savior, who had died to take the punishment for his sins, wanted to spend time with Him. Luke wasn't sure how long they were talking, but he did not want it to end. Then Jesus told Luke he had more work to do and asked if he would go back to complete it. He longed to stay with Jesus in Heaven but trusted He knew what was best. When it was time for Luke to leave, Lily ran over to say goodbye. “Lily, I'll see you when I return,” Luke said tenderly. “I will be waiting,” Lily promised, and with her voice full of excitement said, “When you come back do you want me to show you some of the animals?” “I'd love that, Lily,” Luke said with a grin, “We're going to have a lot of fun together!” Then Jesus gave Luke a final embrace saying, “I want you to remember how much I love you, and I will always be with you!” Luke's spirit returned to his body, and his monitors came alive. A paramedic shouted, “He's got a pulse! His heart rhythm's normal, and his vitals are good, but he is not responsive. We need to get him to the emergency room!” When the ambulance delivered Luke to the hospital, the Doctor determined he had a fractured right hip and shoulder. He had several lacerations and minor contusions, but the most significant crisis he was facing was a traumatic brain injury which had rendered him unconscious. Luke was transferred to the ICU, where they could carefully monitor his condition. His family kept constant vigil by his hospital bed, waiting and praying that he would recover. One late afternoon, Luke opened his eyes and saw his wife, Ashley, holding his hand. She saw he was conscious and cried, “Luke, you're awake!” Then she fervently thanked God for sparing his life. His brother Matt was elated and rushed to his side, saying, “Hey, Luke. I'm so glad you're back! We didn't know if you were going to make it!” At that moment, Luke's physician entered the room and stared in disbelief at his patient who was alert and talking for the first time in three weeks. “We didn't hold out much hope for your recovery,” his Doctor stated, “Do you know what happened to you?” Luke frowned as the memories of that fateful day came flooding back to his mind. They all looked at him with concern in their eyes as he recalled, “I was racing down the side of the highway with the other riders in our bike club, that morning. We had just completed our race, and I was crossing the street as I made my way home, when a car came barreling through a red light and sent me flying through the air to the hard pavement below. I was in excruciating pain and started to remove my helmet when someone told me to lie very still until the paramedics arrived. Then I must've blacked out because the next thing I remember was my spirit rising above my body through the roof of an ambulance, as I watched two EMTs giving me CPR on the way to the hospital.” The room got deathly quiet as they all tried to process what he'd just said. They were astonished at what had transpired, and listened carefully as he continued, “I know this seems hard to believe, and I don't understand it myself, but I saw Jesus up in Heaven while the medics worked to revive me.” His family was eager to learn what had happened, so Luke closed his eyes and pictured himself back in paradise in the presence of his wonderful Savior. He tried to relay what he had experienced but knew he could never adequately express it. Then Luke smiled, as he shared the exciting news he saw Lily in Heaven too! They were ecstatic to know she was with Jesus, and Luke had been with her a short time ago. Her parents peppered Luke with questions about his encounter with her. As he began to describe the details of their time together, a light came to their eyes that had not been there since the day of the accident. They were amazed at how God had orchestrated these circumstances to give them hope in knowing they have a future with Lily. Then the room filled with celebration and praise to God for allowing them to see a glimpse of Heaven. They knew their child was alive and well and safe in the arms of Jesus. The Doctor was intrigued by what Luke had said, and as he left to see other patients, he mumbled as he exited the door, “I really need to get back to church!” Matt was rejoicing over all God had done when his heart began to feel burdened. He knew the Holy Spirit was speaking to him, so he confided in his wife Christy, then approached his brother's bedside and said, “I'm so relieved you're okay, Luke. I didn't want to lose you too! Since you're feeling a little better, do you mind if I leave for a while? There's something I need to take care of at home.” “Sure, go ahead,” Luke said, “You've already spent way too much time here, I'm sure.” Matt left the hospital feeling so overwhelmed by the events of the last few months that when he finally arrived home, he pushed open the door and collapsed in a chair. Tears flowed, as he released the pent-up emotions he'd been holding onto for far too long. The memory of his terrible accident played over and over in his mind relentlessly. He had been driving his daughter to her friend's house, when a speeding truck, disregarded a stop sign and crashed into the side of the car where Lily was seated. Matt survived with minor injuries, but his only child had died. Then his brother awoke from a coma to say he'd been to Heaven and saw Lily with Jesus. Matt was reeling from all that had happened and needed to talk to God, but resentment had been building inside him, and he didn't feel he could pray. God had taken Lily before she had a chance to grow up, and he didn't think that was fair! In the midst of all his turmoil, he was trying to work through his grief, but rage was simmering in his heart against the man who had killed his child. Matt couldn't comprehend how this man could drive when he was intoxicated, knowing how dangerous it could be for himself and others. God didn't want Ben to drink and drive and harm his little girl, but in His infinite wisdom, He allowed it to occur. He realized if he ever doubted God's love for him when things didn't work out the way he thought they should, he needed to remember the brutal death Jesus suffered on the cross so He could pay for his sin. Matt loved Lily very much, and he would always miss her, but he knew his faithful God loved her more than he did. He may not understand why this happened until he went to Heaven, but he was going to trust his omniscient God, whose ways are always perfect. Matt knelt to repent of the sinful attitude he'd had towards God since Lily died. While he was praying, God gently said, “You're asking me to forgive you, but have you done the same for Ben?” Matt was taken aback and wondered why he should be the one to forgive when this drunk driver had caused the death of his child. He knew he needed God's help to be free from the animosity he had against Ben. Matt recalled the Bible verse in Matthew 6:15 that says, if you refuse to forgive others, God will not forgive you. He wanted peace in his heart and release from the bitterness he had towards this man. God knew what it was like to lose a child, he thought. He willingly allowed his only Son to be crucified for our salvation. Matt had taken Jesus as his Savior many years ago. His sins were forgiven and thought he'd surrendered his life fully to God, but now realized he needed to let God take control of the situation with Lily. “Dear Jesus,” he prayed, “thank you for loving me even though I don't deserve it. I am sorry for the anger and hatred I have towards Ben, and I choose to forgive him for causing Lily's death. Lord, I want to know your will for my life, and I ask for your direction. Please guide me in Your path for me, and I will follow where You lead. In Jesus name, Amen.” When he finished praying, Matt took a deep breath and slowly began to smile. Waves of peace washed over his soul, as his relationship with God had now been restored. He was still grieving the loss of his daughter but was confident one day he would see her in Heaven. Matt spent some time talking to God and listening to what He had to say. When the Lord spoke to him, he rose to his feet, grabbed his keys, and headed for the door. He contacted his wife to tell her where God was leading and drove to his destination in obedience to Him. Matt could feel deep despair and misery as he entered the cold, bleak structure. He felt compassion when he saw the look of hopelessness in the eyes of many visitors and those who were there involuntarily. He was led into a stark room and sat down on a cold metal chair facing a glass window. An anxious-looking young man in an orange uniform was seated directly across from him. The two men simultaneously reached for the phones that were on the wall beside them and began an awkward conversation. Matt stared at the man whose face had been vividly etched into his memory several months ago when he'd seen him in the courtroom sitting beside his defense attorney. He pled guilty to the charge of vehicular manslaughter in the death of a four-year-old child named Lily. "Hello,” Matt said soberly, initiating the conversation. "Mr. Shepherd,” replied Ben nervously," I never thought I'd see you here.” “It has been difficult since Lily was killed,” Matt acknowledged. Ben winced as he nodded and said, “I have a little girl myself, and I'd be devastated if anything happened to her.” “My family has been suffering since we lost our daughter, and I've been so angry at you for causing her death,” Matt admitted, “but I had a long talk with the Lord yesterday, confessed my sin and asked Him to make me into the man He wants me to be. God sent me here to give you a message, so I drove all night to deliver it to you.” Ben's eyes widened, as he slid forward in his chair, nervously waiting to hear what he would say next. Matt paused for a moment, then humbly continued, “I came here today to say I forgive you for causing the accident that took Lily from me. I was struggling to come to this decision, but I realized if Jesus can ask His Father to forgive those who crucified Him, I can do the same for you.” Ben was shocked at what he'd heard. He'd been longing to hear those words, but never thought he would. Ben protested, “I am the one who needs to ask for your forgiveness. I am so sorry for what I have done. My family kept telling me I shouldn't drink and drive, but I wouldn't listen to them, and now they won't even speak to me. I don't think I'll ever be able to forgive myself for causing the death of your daughter, Matt. I've made the biggest mistake of my life, and there's nothing I can do to change it.” Ben hung his head, saying, “I feel hopeless and all alone. I have so much guilt and regret for what I've done, and it just eats away at me.” Matt asked the Lord for His compassion and wisdom to know what he should share with Ben. “Satan is the one who wants to steal your joy and keep you defeated,” Matt said, “He doesn't want you to forgive yourself, but with the power of God, you can win this battle and find a peace that defies human understanding. Even if you have wronged someone and they will not forgive you, God can give you perfect peace if you give your life to Him. Ben, there's nothing we can do God can't forgive because His grace will pardon and cleanse any sin. You can become a child of God if you confess your sins to Him and make Him Lord of your life. You will no longer be separated from God but will be purified from your sin and ready to meet the Lord in Heaven someday. He'll give you a purpose for living and power to overcome any temptation you may face. You can be an example of God's grace to your family and the people around you. He can give you all you need to fulfill His will for your life.” Ben knew he'd made a mess of his life and couldn't live with the guilt and shame any longer, so without hesitation, he bowed his head, and Matt joined him in prayer. With a partition between them, the two men petitioned their Creator to hear Ben's cry, “Dear Jesus, I believe you are the Son of God who died on the cross and rose again. I'm sorry, Lord, for all my sin. I surrender myself to You, and I ask You to take control of my life. In Jesus name, Amen.” Ben was in a place with bars and chains, but he'd never felt so free in all his life. Matt smiled, and with a faraway look in his eyes said, “We are going to see Lily again!” Ben looked confused until Matt told him about his brother's accident and miraculous journey to Heaven, where he saw his Savior and had a joyful reunion with his niece. “Then Jesus asked Luke if he would return,” Matt said, “so he could tell others how much God loved them.” Ben was stunned at first, trying to take it all in. He'd read about Heaven in the Bible and knew it was real. The thought that Lily was already with Jesus, enjoying eternity with Him, caused his heart to sing, and he praised the Lord for His loving kindness to them. He turned to Matt, and with tears in his eyes said, “I'm thrilled to know Luke saw Lily in Heaven. I can't imagine the joy you feel in knowing your child is with Jesus. I've caused you and your family so much pain, but I'm glad that you'll see Lily again. I will never be able to thank you for offering me forgiveness and hope at the darkest point of my life.” “I am extending the same grace to you the Lord has given to me,” Matt said sincerely. Then, a guard came and told him visiting hours were over. Matt promised he would return and walked out of the prison with peace in his heart, knowing God was pleased he had forgiven Ben. Matt prayed for strength to persevere until God called him home, and knew He'd give him courage for the trials yet to come. Matt was excited when he thought of the joyous celebration they would have someday when his family would be reunited with Lily, and they'd be with Jesus in Heaven forever.
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