Powerful messages that encourage, inspire, and convict “People of the Way” to enter into the presence of the Living God and to mirror the image of the precious Lord Jesus, bringing his life to this hurt and broken world. The messages are written by Richard E. Bieber. A pastor whose prolific writings have spanned six decades.
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STRAIGHT TO THE THRONE
Perhaps you have seen her in the neighborhood.
Perhaps you have passed her on the street.
You may not know her, but she knows you.
Blessings have fallen upon you through her prayers.
If you were to look into this woman’s eyes, you would see the love of God.
You might even hear the voice of the Lord Jesus.
Nobody pays attention to her as she shuffles through the check-out and pulls her groceries in that little cart to her tiny basement apartment.
Her face is wrinkled and withered.
Her steps are slow, cautious and painful.
But this woman’s prayers burn with fire.
They go straight to the throne.
She seems invisible to the world as she shuffles down the street (who pays attention to an old woman in shabby clothes?).
But her eyes are open.
She misses nothing.
And she takes it all to the Father.
Daily, this woman intercedes for her neighbors, for strangers, for people who treat her harshly, for relatives who have long-since forgotten her.
Old as she is, this woman is gloriously alive.
She knows exactly why she is still on this earth.
She’s here to pray for others.
For you, for me.
She is well-known in heaven.
Her prayers always get through.
And now it’s time for us to join her.
To open our eyes to the world around us.
And learn to intercede.
Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance.
Prayer: Lord, how wonderful that the prayers of the least of these go straight to your throne. How blessed we are to be covered by those prayers. May we take the time and see the light of heaven, your love in their quiet lives and return it with the kindness, gratefulness, and honor they deserve. May we, like them, open our eyes, open our hearts to the needs around us and join our prayers with theirs in the intercession this world so desperately needs. Amen. Maranatha Mirror
Message: Richard E. Bieber August 2021 Printable Copy
Featured Art: Courtesy of Deedra Everett facebook.com/deedra.everett.5
WHO IS MY NEIGHBOR?
We love the parable of the Good Samaritan.
We love to BE the Good Samaritan.
We are “Good Samaritans” many times.
We are quite certain that we have aced the “Good Samaritan Test”.
We didn’t “pass by on the other side.”
We have come to the rescue many times.
But do we actually know who our neighbors are?
That expert in the law never thought of Samaritans as neighbors.
So Jesus put his finger on the problem.
Like that expert on the law, we too have narrowed our definition of “neighbor” more than we realize.
When it comes down to the way we actually live….
“Neighbor” is one who shares our values.
“Neighbor” is one who understands our politics.
“Neighbor” is one who looks like we do.
“Neighbor” is one who thinks like we do.
Our “neighbor” matches our standard of living.
Our “neighbor” is a natural-born citizen.
It turns out that we are as hard on our “Samaritans” as those ancient Jews were on theirs.
Because those folks are not really our neighbors, it is easy to “pass by on the other side.”
When they’re ugly.
When they’re obnoxious.
When they’re scary.
When they “don’t belong here”.
And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered right; do this, and you will live.” But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
“And who is my neighbor?”
We answer that question with our lives every day.
And how we answer it determines our eternal destiny.
Prayer: Lord, help us to answer this question “who is my neighbor?” with true compassion and mercy. Forgive us for preferring to help only those who we are comfortable with, who we deem worthy. Help us not to pass by people who make us uncomfortable, who push our boundaries, who we disagree with, or who we condemn as unforgivable. And Lord may we do this with the love for our neighbors that you call us to have…loving them as much as we love ourselves, as much as we love our own comfort and our own way of life. Help us to love them more than we love our own opinions, beliefs, and standards. Amen.
Message: Richard E. Bieber September 2021 Printable Version
Featured Art: Gerd Altmann …(Geralt on Pixabay)
GUIDED OR MANIPULATED?
I will instruct you and teach you in the way that you should go.
I will guide you with my eye. (Psalm 32)
Who of us is not in need of guidance from God?
Do I speak or hold my peace?
Do I stick my neck out or do I wait?
Which cry for help do I answer?
Spiritual advisors and Christian leaders are often helpful in figuring out what to do.
But sometimes their counsel is manipulative.
Sometimes the Christian Agenda is driven by doubtful interests.
“Lord, are you guiding me in this, or am I being manipulated?”
Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the people to ask for Barab’bas and destroy Jesus. The governor again said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barab’bas.” Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said, “Let him be crucified.”
“But Lord, he’s a Christian leader. I trusted his guidance.”
Not good enough.
Adam blamed Eve for making him eat the fruit.
Did this get Adam off the hook?
If I follow a “prophet” who turns out to be a wolf, am I exonerated?
Truth is, I know—and so do you—when the “guidance” is tainted.
When we allow ourselves to be manipulated by a doubtful Christian advisor, we are not ignorant, we are complicit.
We secretly prefer the advice we are given, even though our heart is uneasy and our conscience is aghast.
The counsel of every spiritual advisor and every Christian leader must be examined in the light that comes from the Lord Jesus.
Does it match his Spirit?
Is it driven by his care for all the forgotten ones, not just those in our own caste?
Does it stand up to the light of his truth?
“I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
The light of the Lord Jesus is the only light there is.
If we walk in his light, we will never be manipulated.
Message: Richard E. Bieber April 2021 Printable Copy
Featured Art: Eric Holmlund at ericholmlund.com
Prayer: Wise Lord, how we so need your guidance, how we need to see things with your eye. Attune our hearts so closely to you that we can tell darkness from light. Help us to recognize and reject manipulation even when it’s coming from a Christian leader. Bring us to repentance for complicitly allowing ourselves to be swayed by any teaching, any opinion that does not stand up to the light of your truth. And yes Lord we ask you to continue to instruct us, to teach us the way to go and to guide us with your eye. Amen. Maranatha Mirror
HIDDEN IN GOD
“Who are you?” they said to John the Baptist.
“I am a voice.”
John did not give them his name.
His name was hidden in God.
“Who are you?” Pilate said to Jesus.
“I am a witness to the truth.”
Jesus made no attempt to prove who he was.
In the kingdom of God, we never promote ourselves.
We never promote our work.
We never make a production out of our sacrifice or suffering.
We never put our “ministry” up in lights.
Our names are hidden in God.
Our authority is hidden in God.
The fruit we bear is hidden in God.
The glory belongs to God alone.
When we let our light shine as followers of Jesus, God alone gets the glory.
“Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and give glory to the Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5)
There’s a difference between letting our light shine and making our light flash and splash.
Every time we peel off some glory for ourselves our light becomes darkness.
The kingdom of God has…..
No P.R. department.
No “Growth Committee”.
No expansion strategy.
The Kingdom of God grows all by itself, without our help.
“The kingdom of heaven is like leaven which a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.” (Matthew 13)
Once the farmer plants the seed, he lets it stay hidden in the soil.
He doesn’t dig it up once a week to see how it’s doing.
He doesn’t pull it out and parade it before the world.
The seed is hidden in God.
“The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed upon the ground, and should sleep and rise night and day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he knows not how. The earth produces of itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.” (Mark 4)
What a relief, not to have to “prove ourselves” to the world!
What freedom to live before the eye of God alone!
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3)
Prayer: Lord, help us to truly hide ourselves in you… your presence… the beautiful covering, the amazing gift that’s ours for the taking. May being hidden in you be all the glory we need. Bring us to a point in our lives where our need, our joy, our life is to be hidden in you. Bring us to a place where we no longer have to prove ourselves, where we don’t keep checking on the seeds we plant, where we don’t peel back any glory that belongs to you for ourselves, where we trust you so completely that we are freed to rest. Bring us to the place where any light that shines from us is a clear reflection of being hidden in you so that others can see your glory alone shining through the darkness. Amen. Maranatha Mirror
Message: Richard E. Bieber August 2021 Printable Version
Featured Art: Kindness and courtesy of Amy Rylander at amyrylander.com
DID I BUY THE FIELD?
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy, he goes and sells everything, and buys the field.” (Matthew 13)
He doesn’t stew about it.
Is this wise?
Will I regret this rash move?
Shouldn’t I hang on to what I have?
He just buys the field.
He does it joyfully.
So how come we keep pussy-footing around the issue?
How come we hesitate and vacillate and procrastinate?
Jesus keeps telling us,
“You want to come with me?
Come all the way, or forget it!”
Peter, Andrew, James and John didn’t hold a prayer meeting to figure out what to do.
They knew what to do, and so do we!
And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him. (Luke 5)
Of course, it’s not everybody’s cup of tea.
It’s not like buying a house, or joining a club, or even getting married.
When it hits you, you just know.
You know that what lies on the other side of that gate is worth more than life itself.
So we enter.
Who knows where the Master will take us?
Wherever it is, that’s where we want to be.
Lord, lead on!
It can happen when you’re sitting at the kitchen table, looking out the window.
It can hit you in the middle of the night.
Or driving down the freeway.
Or sitting in a waiting room
Perhaps even in church.
Here I am, Lord!
It’s a radical break with the past.
We are selling all we have to buy the field.
We are doing it with a joy we cannot explain.
No more playing games.
I’m yours, Lord.
Yes, Jesus tells us to count the cost; to be sure we know what we’re doing.
“If any one comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.
Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple.
For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?”
Does Jesus really want me to hate my wife, my husband, my mother, my father, my child?
To hate my own life?
Jesus wants me to make sure that my spouse, my mother, my father, my child, my own life…
….never gets in the way of buying the field.
And once we buy the field we never look back.
Every morning we present our body to the Lord as a living sacrifice, to be spent this day to his glory.
Every morning we turn our mind away from the darkness and open it to the light of his Spirit.
To love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and our neighbor as ourselves.
To trust God in all things.
To serve wherever he puts us.
Every day we walk in the light the Lord Jesus gives us, thanking God for the chance to serve in this place where he has put us.
We bought the field.
We have the treasure.
What more could we want?
Prayer: Good Lord, help us to recognize and desire the treasure you offer us beyond anything else. Help us to willingly, joyfully, fearlessly sacrifice all to buy the field. Oh may we come all the way, leave everything so that we may follow you…no matter where you lead us. Here we are Lord…you are worth any cost. We present ourselves to you this day, every day. We turn our minds, our hearts to you and away from the darkness into your wonderful light…You, our greatest treasure…our great joy to serve wherever you have put us. Amen. Maranatha Mirror
Featured Art: Berna Lopez at evangile-et-peinture.org
THE DIVINE FUNNEL
The mystery no one has ever solved:
The mystery of evil.
Where did it come from?
Why is it here?
Why is it allowed to cause such misery on this earth?
Evil is a force.
Evil is a presence.
Evil has an agenda.
Evil is found in every human life, without exception.
So why does God allow evil to exist?
Why did God permit the serpent to enter the Garden?
Why does God allow evil to corrupt rulers of nations and institutions?
Only God knows.
When Jesus of Nazareth came to the Jordan to be baptized, he looked like just another young Galilean.
Yet John introduced him to the world as a funnel.
A funnel into which all the evil of all time would be poured and drained away.
“Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
Did they understand what John was saying? Maybe.
All we like sheep have gone astray. We have turned, every one, to his own way. And the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
When Jesus died on the cross, he funneled all evil into himself, giving us a chance at a new start.
We come to the cross and die with him.
Our evil dies with us and he raises us to a new life.
Now we are able to forgive, as we were forgiven.
We are free to do God’s will.
We are able to speak and live the truth.
Many are called, but few are chosen.
“And I, when I am lifted up from the earth (on the cross) will draw all people to myself.” (John 12)
All people are drawn to the cross in God’s time.
Do we open our hearts or turn away?
Do we walk in the Light or choose the Darkness?
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;
I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”
Prayer: Sweet, Holy, divine Lord sometimes the darkness in this world and the darkness in our own minds and hearts fills us with despair. Admittedly, we allow that darkness and despair to turn us away from your light. Oh forgive us Lord. Help us to open our hearts once again. Help us to come to the life, the abundant life your sweet sacrifice brings us into. You alone can funnel this evil from us. You alone can funnel evil from this world. Give us the vision to know that no matter how depraved, wicked, hopeless and sad things in this world are…they will disappear because of your goodness and mercy towards us. Help us to draw near to you, to be drawn to you, and to die with you…joyfully allowing you to drain this darkness from us, freeing us to embrace life. Amen.
Message: Richard E. Bieber June 2021 Printable Version
Featured Art: Chris Powers at Full of Eyes
THAT THOSE WHO SEE MAY BECOME BLIND
“For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.” (John 9)
They had eyes to see.
They claimed to know the Truth.
But when Incarnate Truth confronted them, they closed their minds and became blind.
They claimed to know the scriptures but were blind to the face of God.
They claimed to believe the prophets, but were deaf to the voice of God.
So they stumbled in darkness.
When the Truth stares us in the face, and we refuse to receive it, our spiritual eyes glaze over and we can no longer distinguish truth from falsehood.
We grope after lies.
We believe fabrications.
We follow the herd toward the Abyss, and think we’re on our way to glory.
Those Pharisees asked the right question.
“Are we also blind?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, `We see,’ your guilt remains.” (John 9)
Deep down these men knew better.
They knew they were face-to-face with Truth.
How could they not know that they were looking into the face of God?
What about us?
Does the road we travel follow the footsteps of the Master?
Does it lead to a cross?
Or are we forging ahead on a road crowded with blind men leading the blind?
“For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.”
Message: Richard E. Bieber August 2021 Printable Copy
Featured Art: Courtesy of Jane Spencer at The Secret Place on Facebook
Prayer: Lord, give us eyes to see. If we are blind to the truth, open our eyes. When we are misled, when we stumble over the truth… stop us in our steps… help us to see the truth and to turn and take the road that follows in your footsteps. Amen. Maranatha Mirror
TO JUSTIFY MYSELF?
“Nobody told me!”
“I didn’t know it was you.”
“You misunderstood what I said.”
We do it all the time.
We come up with wonderful reasons for…
Why we didn’t get there on time…
Why George is still licking his wounds from the things we said…
Why no one has checked on old Aunt Maud…
Soon we believe our little “justification lies”.
Even worse, we tell them to God.
“Lord, I didn’t realize.”
“Lord, I thought I was doing the right thing.”
“I figured he was a moocher.”
“I was in a hurry, Lord. I didn’t even notice those little ones crying.”
The time we waste trying to justify ourselves could be better spent admitting the truth.
Confessing our hardness of heart.
We can never justify ourselves before God.
So why should we try to justify ourselves before the world?
Sometimes justification becomes a lifetime career.
Our eyes are forever on the audience.
We measure our worth by how we think we’re doing in the eyes of those around us.
Like the Pharisees of old….
“You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts; for what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.”
If God knows our hearts and we keep looking to him for mercy, how futile it is to justify ourselves before the world.
Prayer: Lord, convict us when we try to justify ourselves before you and before the world. Help us to face the falsehood and cowardice of our own justifications. Help us to get our eyes off the audience and back on you. We confess our hardness of heart towards others. This hardness, this bitterness, this criticism, this self-pride closes our hearts to you. Draw us close to your mercy, soften our hearts, give us the humility and compassion we need to love others as you call us to love. Amen.
Message: Richard E. Bieber August 2021 Printable Version
Featured Art: Gerd Altmann …Geralt on Pixabay
MY SHEEP HEAR MY VOICE
“My sheep hear my voice.”
My voice is truth.
My sheep know the difference between truth and the lie.
Between truth and the half-truth.
Between truth and its empty shell.
Between truth and conspiracy theories.
My voice is love.
My sheep know the difference between my love and phony love.
Between my love and flattery.
Between my love and vain promises.
My voice is holy.
Whether it’s the “sound of many waters” or a “still small voice”, my sheep take off their shoes and listen.
The voice of the LORD is upon the waters;
the God of glory thunders,
the LORD, upon many waters.
The voice of the LORD is powerful,
the voice of the LORD is full of majesty.
“My sheep hear my voice.”
They don’t need a preacher to explain what I’m telling them.
They don’t need a priest to assure them of my forgiveness.
They don’t need 10 seminars to teach them how to pray.
Or how to “bear witness”.
Or how to wash feet.
I always show them the way.
“My sheep hear my voice.”
“I know them and they follow me!”
As they follow me they hear my voice in the gospels.
Day by day my words in the gospels come alive to them.
They hear me speaking directly to their hearts.
As they follow me they hear my voice through the Spirit.
Deep within their souls truth rises up to guide them ….. out of darkness into light.
Words come to them as they reach out to the forgotten ones.
Something within says, “This is the way, walk in it.”
I give them sustaining words for the weary.
I give them a word of warning for the arrogant.
As they follow me they hear my voice through the words of a stranger.
My sheep know when they are hearing from me.
And they know what to do.
There is a difference between knowing the doctrines and hearing my voice.
There is a difference between following “Christian Principles” and hearing my voice.
There is a difference between exercising a “ministry” and hearing my voice.
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them and they follow me.
And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish.
And no one shall snatch them out of my hand.”
Message: Richard E. Bieber September 2021 Printable Copy
Featured Art: Courtesy of Signe Flink
Prayer: Lord, we desire more than anything else to be your sheep. We desire more than anything else to hear your voice. We desire more than anything else to follow you. Keep calling us until we respond. Keep showing us the way of your truth, your love, and your beautiful holiness. May we continue to hear your voice speaking to us through the Gospels, through your Spirit, and through the words of others. And Lord may we continue to know what to do when we hear your voice. Amen. Maranatha Mirror
YOU’RE THE ONE
You woke up one day and knew that you’re the one!
Perhaps, like Jonah, you said, “Thanks anyway.”
Perhaps you got on a ship to Tarshish.
Perhaps you are still on the run.
We didn’t choose to follow Jesus.
Jesus broke into our lives, whether we liked it or not.
It was like being hit by an earthquake.
“You did not choose me, but I chose you, and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should abide. So that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he will give it to you. This I command you: to love one another.” (John 15)
God has ways of reminding us.
Jonah reconsidered things in the belly of a fish.
And sooner or later we too have to face it.
God always makes sure we get the point.
Maybe nothing changes on the outside.
But a volcano erupts on the inside.
You’re the one, whether you like it or not.
So open your eyes.
“Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see how the fields are already white for harvest. He who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor; others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.” (John 4)
When the angel told Gideon he was to deliver Israel, he could not believe it.
He kept checking it out.
Looking for confirmation.
Until he was sure.
Once he was sure, Gideon did not waste a minute.
“Okay, Lord. Where do I start?”
“Start right where you are. Open your eyes and see what I see:
Pray for them.
Listen to them.
Give them a sustaining word.
Live the gospel right where you are.
No canned speeches.
No ‘7 steps to salvation’.
If I live in you, let me do the talking.”
You’re the one he put in that place.
You are crucified with Christ.
It is no longer you, but Christ who lives in you.
And the life you now live in the flesh you live by faith in the Son of God who loved you and gave himself for you.
Prayer: Thank you Lord for choosing us. Help us to wrap our minds around how beloved we are by you… and that we can do what you call us to… and do it well. Open our eyes to your precious call on our lives. Open our eyes to see the harvest you have prepared right before us. And yes, help us to start right where we are… with the people who need us…who need our prayers, our mercy, our compassion, our attentive ears and our loving concern. And may it be your Spirit, your life within us that does the talking, the loving, the praying in the places you put us. Amen.
Message: Richard E. Bieber July 2021 Printable Version
Featured Art: Ramone Romero at ramoneromero_blogspot
What to do with misgivings?
They make us uncomfortable.
So we bury them.
Misgivings keep crawling out of their graves.
We push them down.
They keep popping up.
Sooner or later we have to deal with our misgivings.
We have to hold them up to the light and examine them before God.
He is a great Christian leader. But I begin to wonder if he isn’t a little too slick.
She’s a smart lady with powerful connections. But is she serving God or her own agenda?
He has a strong message about personal freedom. But where is his compassion?
Misgivings hit at strange times.
“So if you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5)
Somebody’s angry with us.
We keep pushing it out of our minds.
But we have misgivings.
Make friends quickly with your accuser, while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison; truly, I say to you, you will never get out till you have paid the last penny. (Matthew 5)
When we bury our misgivings they keep haunting us.
Until we bring them to the Lord.
Lord, show me the truth, and give me the courage to follow it!
Featured Art: Courtesy of Berna Lopez
Prayer: Yes Lord, show us the truth and give us the courage to follow it, to do what is right. We bring our misgivings about our own behavior and attitudes before you. Help us not to hide our personal misgivings from you. And Lord alert us to when our misgivings about others are warnings from you, help us not to bury them, but to hold them up to your light, to lay them before you so we can seek your truth in the matter…and give us the courage to change direction even if it’s difficult, even if we have to go against the crowd. Amen.
ONE TEACHER, ONE MASTER
The Christian world has broken down into tribes.
Each tribe has a leader.
The leader calls the shots.
Each tribe claims to be following Jesus.
But the tribes cannot agree as to what “following Jesus” means.
So the tribes stumble on.
Did Jesus ordain those tribes?
Did Jesus appoint those leaders?
But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brethren. And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Neither be called masters, for you have one master, the Christ. (Matthew 23)
At this hour a miracle is taking place among those who are getting their teaching directly from the Master’s mouth.
Who are actually abiding in the Vine.
The Master’s prayer is being answered before our eyes.
“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me..” (John 17)
Out of the refining fire of judgment the Body of Christ is emerging as a single Flock behind a single Shepherd.
While the Christian tribes are busy pushing their agendas, the voice of the Master is gathering those who have ears to hear, to follow him alone.
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand.” (John 10)