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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Short Messages/Tracts

 

THE GREAT FALLING AWAY AND THE RISING REMNANT

Jesus made it clear:

   There will be a falling away.

   There will also be those who endure to the end.

Then they will deliver you up to tribulation, and put you to death;  and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away, and betray one another, and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because wickedness is multiplied, most men’s love will grow cold.

Early signs.

The privilege and protection enjoyed for centuries by Christians in much of the world is coming to an end.

Soon this protection will be gone.

In place of favored treatment, Christians will be increasingly despised as hypocrites, wimps and frauds.

The minority haters will put Christians at the top of their list.

  Many believers will be terrified and melt quietly into the pagan mass.

No longer will there be “a church on every corner.”

The word, “Christian”, will have a different ring.

The name “Jesus” will be jeered as it was on Good Friday.

The “Great Falling Away” will unfold before our eyes.

The remnant.

But while many Christians betray one another and hate one another a remnant will emerge, faithful to Jesus through it all.

 But he who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, as a testimony to all nations; and then the end will come.  (Matthew 24)

This remnant will suffer.

It will be despised.

But it will never lose its voice.

It will rise up and proclaim the gospel of the kingdom with such power that the nations will be shaken.

“For behold, the day comes, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble; the day that comes shall burn them up, says the LORD of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. But for you who fear my name the sun of righteousness shall rise,  with healing in its wings. You shall go forth leaping like calves from the stall.” (Malachi 4)

Jesus’ word to the remnant.

The remnant has been here since the day Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives preparing his disciples for the days ahead.

As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?” And Jesus answered them, “Take heed that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, `I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not alarmed; for this must take place, but the end is not yet.”

“Take heed that no one leads you astray.”

“See that you are not alarmed, for the end is not yet.

Don’t panic.

Don’t get carried away by what you see and hear.

Stay focused on the one thing needful: God’s kingdom.

For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places: all this is but the beginning of the birth-pangs.”

And now, for reasons known only to God, the remnant of deeply committed men and women will be the scapegoat, the target of hatred and blame.

“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation, and put you to death; and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake.” (Matthew 24)

The remnant has been living the kingdom life since the day Jesus gave them this counsel.

The remnant is being sustained by the Lord at this instant.

These women and men are focused.

They are walking in the light.

They are ready for whatever happens.

God grant that we may be among them.

Prayer: Yes Lord, may we be among those who endure to the end. Sustain us Lord, sustain us. Sustain us with your loving presence, your tender guidance. Help us not to be led astray… if we are…call us back. Help us not to grow cold as wickedness is multiplied around us. Keep our hearts warm to you…lit with a fire of passionate love for you, empowering us to live your Kingdom on this earth. And Lord take this remnant that seems so weak and voiceless in the midst of the darkness…and give us voices, give us lives that shake the nations of this broken and dark planet with such force, such power that many will fall before in awe and love. Amen.  Maranatha Mirror
Message: Richard E. Bieber  November 2021          Printable Copy    
Featured Art:  Wayne Forte- First piece a study from the “Modern Day Prophet” at wayneforte.com . Other pieces by Ramone Romero at weepingjeremiahsblogspot

 THE CALL OF TRUTH OR THE LURE OF THE LIE

There is one thing that distinguishes the voice of Jesus from all others.

He never lies.

   Jesus’ words are true.

His deeds are true.

His promises are true.

His warnings are true.

Once we receive his salvation, enter his kingdom, walk in his steps, he holds us to the truth with terrifying rigor.

When we deceive, his Spirit of truth convicts us.

 If we continue to deceive, we spin down into the yawning darkness of self-deception.

Jesus has strong words for religious people who play games with the truth.

 “Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him.  When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”   (John 8:43-44)

The father of lies rules the world through the power of the lie.

He sits in the halls of political power.

He controls the sports empires.

He drinks with the best of them in Hollywood.

He dominates Wall Street.

The father of lies always approaches Christians disguised as an angel of light.

He offers us shortcuts to power.

He promises victory in our fight for Christian values.

He does it all by the power of the lie.

He lures us into believing lies as if they were truth.

Soon we pick up our swords and go to battle over lies he has planted in our souls.

Why does God allow this to happen to Christians?

God allows it when we no longer submit to the Lord’s truth.

So we are vulnerable to lies.

We are looking at a foretaste of this to come.

The coming of the lawless one by the activity of Satan will be with all power and with pretended signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are to perish, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends upon them a strong delusion, to make them believe what is false, so that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (II Thessalonians 2:9-12)

The Lord Jesus will give us eyes to see and ears to hear, if we turn to him and open our hearts to his truth. He will make us to know the difference between the truth and every lie that seeks to counterfeit it.

 “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”    (John 8:31b-32)

In the kingdom of God truth is not an option.

It is essential.

God’s kingdom is the only place on earth where truth rules.

The God of the universe is the Lord of truth.

   Jesus is Incarnate Truth.

   The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth.

  Those who follow Jesus walk the Way of Truth.

  They speak truth.

  They live truth.

  They never compromise truth.

But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God chose you from the beginning to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.(II Thessalonians 2:13)

Prayer: Lord, protect us from the lure of lies. Convict us when we listen to, believe, or speak deceit. Help us to recognize lies, to recognize the lure of evil even if it appears as light. Help us to lay down our swords and any other weapon of darkness. Soften our hearts, in the midst of… conflicting voices, opinions, division, and hatred. Open our ears so we may continue to hear the call of the truth. Help us to embrace your truth, never compromising it, allowing it to ever rule us, always following Jesus so we may continue to speak and live your truth. Amen. 
Maranatha Mirror
Message: Richard E. Bieber  November 2021    Printable Version
Featured Art: Ramone Romero

LIVING WATER

“Every one who drinks of this (well) will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst; the water that I shall give him will never thirst; the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.”  

John 4

         And he did.

                     And she drank.

                                 She left that well, flooded with new life.

                                             Even her enemies could see it.

 Out of her heart flowed a river of life which spread through and blessed the entire village.

Jesus spoke — she listened.

He gave — she received.

Words which are Spirit and Life.

Words which heal the sick and raise the dead.       

When he speaks and you listen,

When he gives and you receive,

         You too are flooded with life from the world to come.

You drink his living water by listening—listening with your whole being.

By taking those words into your life by faith.

By doing what he speaks. 

         Soon those very words become a spring within you.

They keep you refreshed.

They impart strength.

“If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”

                                                         John 4:10

Prayer: Lord, yes, may we hear and listen to your voice with our whole being so that your words, your Living Water will spring up in us and flood us with life. Amen.  Maranatha Mirror
Message: Richard E. Bieber  June  2015      Printable Copy    
Featured Artist:  Courtesy of Melani Pyke  at melpyke.com 

LIVING WATER

Who knows how many years this woman had been coming to this well to get water. She came with an empty jar and took it away full. Soon it was empty again and she had to come back. If she hadn’t had a well like this to come to, she and her five husbands would long since have been dead. 

This water kept her alive.

But there was another kind of water that this woman, her five husbands and the other people of the village had never tasted. They didn’t even know how thirsty they were, until that day when the strange man, sitting by the village well said, “Give me a drink.”

 Living water? Who ever heard of it? What does it do for you?

She left her water jar where it was and ran into the village. Everybody knew what kind of woman she was. She wasn’t exactly respected. Yet today when she says, “Come, see a man who told me all I ever did!” the whole village obeys her as if she’s a queen giving a command. 

Her words have authority. She may not be aware of it, but the Living water has already begun to flow in her. Life began welling up in her the instant she did what Jesus told her to do.

Jacob’s well, where Jesus sat talking to the Samaritan woman, was the well of Natural Faith. This is the only well that most people know anything at all about. This well satisfies, but only temporarily.

You take your water jar and drop it down into the well and haul it up. You do this by saying a prayer or uttering a desire. State your need before God and the jar will come up with something in it. 

The trouble with this kind of water is that it is soon consumed and you are thirsty again.

Jesus watches you as you keep coming to the Well of Natural Faith filling your water jar. 

He has something so much better: LIVING WATER.

And He begins giving you this Living Water by asking you to do some simple thing:

“Give me a drink.”

“Lend me your boat, Peter.”

“Let me have those five loaves and two fish.”

“Come down out of that tree, I dine at your house today.”

If you respond, Jesus says, “Ask me, and I’ll give you Living Water. Not just a blessing, but the Spirit of the Living God.”

Prayer: Lord help us to go beyond drawing from the well just to have our natural needs met. Give us the desire to drink of your Living Water… to thirst for your Spirit more than our wants and needs. May we take your offer and truly understand this priceless gift. Amen.
Maranatha Mirror
Message: Richard E. Bieber  September 2021    Printable Version
Featured Art: Kindness of Wayne Pascall  at Waynepascall.com

FIGURE IT OUT

Don’t expect a text message from heaven to tell you whether he’s a false prophet.

You figure it out.

“You will know them by their fruits.”

Gullible Christians.

Teeth filled supernaturally with gold fillings.

Holy oil supernaturally appearing in the palms of their hands.

Christians on their hands and knees “inspired by the Spirit” to bark like dogs.

Forever swallowing conspiracy theories hatched in a Russian rumor factory.

Gullible Christians are an abomination in the sight of God.

Christians with lazy minds miss the boat every time.

Take heed that you are not led astray.”

How do we keep from being led astray?

By using the brains God gave us.

By trusting only Jesus—not some intermediary.

By being as scrupulous about truth as our Lord is.

“Whoever is of the truth hears my voice.”    

John 18      

Beware of the herd mentality.

The branch that abides in the Vine bears much fruit.
The branch that abides in the herd produces only trouble.

The wide gate is often adorned with Christian symbols,  and the wide road is often ringing with Christian music.

The cross alone is the narrow gate, and the narrow way is traveled only by those who are crucified with Christ.

Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy,  that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life,  and those who find it are few.   (Matthew 7)

Prayer: Lord help us figure it out, to not be gullible…to recognize when teachers, leaders, friends, and self proclaimed prophets are leading us away from the gospel of your kingdom, away from the cross, into darkness and away from truth. Protect us from herd mentality… Help us to hear your voice above the clamor and the ugliness and have the courage to choose the narrow gate that leads to life.  Maranatha Mirror
Message: Richard E. Bieber  June  2021          Printable Copy    
Featured Art:  Wayne Forte first two pieces at wayneforte.com …Why We Believe the End Times Are Near and America First (a close up). The second two pieces are by Ramone Romero at weepingjeremiahsblogspot…. Unfollow the Cross-Causing My Children to Sin 

THE MOUTH OF GOD

 Man shall not live by bread alone,  but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.   (Matthew 4:4)

The world is awash in religious talk.

   Words that seem to inspire, but leave us empty.

   Beautiful words, but without life.

Such words do not come from the mouth of God.

Words from the mouth of God

   ….Lift us out of our stupor and set us on our feet.

They give us hope.

They lead us to the truth.

They break our chains.

They cause us to tremble.

They fill us with joy.

  But where is God’s mouth?

   God spoke through prophets.

   God spoke through angels.

But God’s mouth came close to us only when the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God,  and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.

In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.    (John 1)

Jesus is the mouth of God.

He speaks to us through the four gospels.

His Spirit tells us to let go of that grudge.

His guidance rises within us as a little child in Wal-Mart cries, “Mommy Mommy!, Where is my Mommy?”

Sometimes he wakes us in the middle of the night to point us in the right direction.

When we hear his words…. we rise from the dead.

When we trust those words our fears evaporate.

When we obey them, doors open, mountains move.

When we share his words, rivers of living water flow into other lives. 

While religious talk babbles on.

May God give us ears to hear words from his mouth.

And grace to walk in their light.

Prayer: Holy Father, speak to us. Give us words that bring us to life, give us hope, lead us to truth, break our chains, fill us with joy, and yes cause us to tremble in awe. Give us the wisdom and discernment to distinguish your words from dead religious talk. And as we hear these wonderful living words of yours, may we also trust them, obey them, and share them until darkness is dispelled and living water flows from us. Amen.
Maranatha Mirror
Message: Richard E. Bieber  June 2021    Printable Version
Featured Art: Courtesy of Stephen Hanson at stephenhansonartist.com

MERCY AND JUDGMENT

Jesus said,

“I came to cast fire on the earth!”

The fire of unspeakable love.

The fire of terrifying judgment.

One fire, not two.

 Jesus always holds the two mysteries together.

He never separates judgment from mercy.

He never separates mercy from judgment.

If my face is toward God, I see blazing love.

If my face is turned away from God, I see a consuming fire.

Mercy

“The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a marriage feast for his son, and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the marriage feast; but they would not come.”

Mercy

“Again he sent other servants, saying, `Tell those who are invited, Behold, I have made ready my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves are killed, and everything is ready; come to the marriage feast.’ But they made light of it and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them.”

Judgment

“The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy’.”  

 Mercy

“’Go therefore to the thoroughfares, and invite to the marriage feast as many as you find.’ And those servants went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good; so the wedding hall was filled with guests.”

Judgment

“But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment; and he said to him, `Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless.

Then the king said to the attendants, `Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.’

 For many are called, but few are chosen.”

                                                       Matthew 22

Whenever we take these two mysteries and split them apart, we end up with empty vapor.

Without judgment, mercy becomes flabby and weak.

Without mercy, judgment becomes cruel and vindictive.

“And I, when I am lifted up from the earth (on the cross),

will draw all people to myself.” (John 12)

 

All people.

Everyone who has ever been born.

Sooner or later, somewhere somehow, Jesus promises that we are all drawn to the redeeming cross.

We are all invited to enter into God’s heart of mercy.

If we reject mercy,

If we refuse to live mercy,

                      We condemn ourselves.

At this moment Mercy holds the door wide open.

Come to me all you who labor and are heavy-laden,

and I will give you rest.

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,

for I am meek and lowly in heart,

and you will find rest for your souls.

 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

                                                       Matthew 11

Prayer: Lord, thank you for the inseparable fires of your holiness….mercy and judgment. Lord, may we ever be aware of the fire you have cast upon this earth. Draw us to the fire of your holy mercy and judgment. May we keep our faces turned towards your blazing mercy and love and never take your mercy lightly. May we truly enter into your heart of mercy…embracing it with all we have. May we honor your call, your invitation, to us strangers, by dressing ourselves in joy, thankfulness, and the same mercy you have extended to us. Amen  Maranatha Mirror
Message: Richard E. Bieber  June  2021          Printable Copy    
Featured Art:  Title piece by Elizabeth Wang at radiantlight, Closing piece by Chris Powers at Full of Eyes, Other art in public domain …all pieces edited with GoArt. 

SO, WHO IS HE?

Is he the greatest man who ever lived?

           Or is he Lord of heaven and earth?

Or both?

Anyone who reads the gospels with discernment will have to conclude that Jesus of Nazareth is indeed the greatest man who ever walked this earth.

No one in history, or even in fiction, can match this man.

His words burn with fire.

His signs of healing are performed without fanfare.

He listens to the cries of the humble, and gives them hope.

His prophecies are unfolding before our eyes.

But who is he?

Nicodemus, a teacher in Israel, could not figure him out.

Pilate, with all the power of the Roman Empire behind him, asked him in a trembling voice,

                        “Who are you?”

Who is he?

Jesus himself asserts that no one knows who he is.

                        No one but the Father.

All things have been delivered to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.  (Matthew 11)

If Jesus is more than the greatest man who ever lived, who is he?

Where does he come from?

Does he have a name hidden behind the name, “Jesus”?

At the Burning Bush Moses wanted to know God’s name.

When they ask, who sent me to deliver Israel, they will want a name.”

“Tell them I AM sent you.”

“I AM”

Jesus used that name again and again.

”I AM the Good Shepherd.”

“I AM the door.”

“I AM the way, the truth and the life.”

“I AM the living bread which came down from heaven.”

“I AM the resurrection and the life.”

“I AM with you always.”

Jesus may be the greatest man who ever walked this earth, but he is much more than that.

Who Jesus is can be known only by faith.

Who Jesus is can be known only by those who walk with him.

Who Jesus is can be known only by those who deny themselves, take up their cross and follow him.

Who Jesus is can be known only by those who think with his mind.

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.

And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2)

When we think with his mind, a mind that empties itself of its glory and simply serves, we will know who he is.

When we leave ourselves behind, pick up our cross and follow him, we will know who he is.

When we are crucified with Christ, when it is no longer we who live, but Christ who lives in us, we will know who he is.

We will know that Jesus is Lord of heaven and earth.

All authority in heaven and earth has been given to him.

Eternal life, the life of God, is given to those who follow him.

 “Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy. Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense, to repay every one for what he has done.

I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”

Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. (Revelation 22) 

Prayer: Lord help us to find out who you are. Help us to know you to the depth of our hearts. Help us to know you as the way, the truth, and the life, to know you as the door to the presence of the Holy One, to know you as the living bread from heaven, to know you as our good shepherd, and to know you as our resurrection and life and help us to embrace the gift that you are with us always. Give us the faith, the determined steps, the minds, and the willingness to take up our crosses. Help us to empty ourselves of any glory we cling to, help us to wash our robes… so we may know you…know you as the beginning and the end, as Lord of heaven and earth, as the I Am. Amen.
Maranatha Mirror
Message: Richard E. Bieber  November 2020    Printable Version
Featured Art: Courtesy of Melani Pyke at melpyke.com

SHALL WE CALL DOWN FIRE FROM HEAVEN?

 And he sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him; but the people would not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to bid fire come down from heaven and consume them?”

But he turned and rebuked them…     (Luke 9:51-55)

 And these guys are disciples??

They want to call down fire from heaven on Samaritans.

 Would they call down fire on fellow Jews?

   “Jews are human; Samaritans are scum!

   Who do these Samaritans think they are?

   This is our land, not theirs”!

These men still didn’t get it.

They felt they had every right to despise Samaritans.

“Samaritans don’t belong here.

They don’t know their place!

They’re dangerous!”

Even though…

Jesus gave living water to a Samaritan Woman.

He gave high praise to a Samaritan leper, who alone knew how to say “Thanks”.

He used a Samaritan to teach a Jewish legal expert what it means to be a neighbor.

Hopefully, James and John figured it out.

Hopefully their hard hearts toward Samaritans softened by the time Jesus arrived at the cross.

   Or was this a problem they had to deal with for the rest of their lives?

 One thing is for sure:

This is a problem we Christians still have difficulty with. Samaritans.

Not the Samaritans who live in Africa and Asia, but the Samaritans who live down the street and across town.

“Who do they think they are!

What are they moaning about now?

Time to put them in their place!”

“Lord, do you want us to bid fire come down from heaven and consume them?”

The Lord sighs and shakes his head.

“O faithless and perverse generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you?”

The refining fires of judgment are sweeping through the Body of Christ across the earth.

The flames are licking at our hard hearts.

Forcing us to see Samaritans the way God sees them.

Burning away the lie that we, not Samaritans, are specially favored by heaven.

Meanwhile Jesus is gathering Samaritans into his Body on earth.

He is anointing them with power and grace.

He is using them to teach us the meaning of mercy.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Prayer: Lord deal with our hearts when they cry out “shall we call fire down from heaven”. Soften them. Help us to see those who aren’t like us… the way you see them. And yes, burn away the lies we tell ourselves that we are especially favored by heaven over any other people or group. And thank you that you do hold and love the Samaritans, all the “others” that our hearts sneer at, and look down on. May you continue to anoint them with grace, mercy and kindness and use them to teach us the meaning of mercy. May you continue to gather them into your loving arms, into your Body and may we embrace them instead of sneering at and condemning them. Amen.  Maranatha Mirror
Message: Richard E. Bieber  October 2021       Printable Copy    
Featured Art: Video stills from the LUMO Project… The Gospel of Luke chapter 9 and 10
Prayer: Lord deal with our hearts when they cry out “shall we call fire down from heaven”. Soften them. Help us to see those who aren’t like us… the way you see them. And yes, burn away the lies we tell ourselves that we are especially favored by heaven over any other people or group. And thank you that you do hold and love the Samaritans, all the “others” that our hearts sneer at, and look down on. May you continue to anoint them with grace, mercy and kindness and use them to teach us the meaning of mercy. May you continue to gather them into your loving arms, into your Body and may we embrace them instead of sneering at and condemning them. Amen.  Maranatha Mirror
Message: Richard E. Bieber  October 2021       Printable Copy    
Featured Art: Video stills from the LUMO Project… The Gospel of Luke chapter 9 and 10

“MY PRIVATE LINE TO HEAVEN”

I see folks struggling with their prayers and shake my head.

   For me, it’s the easiest thing in the world to get through to God.

 It’s like I have a private line.

    Any time I want to, I just ring the bell and the line opens.

 If I’m downtown and need a parking spot, I just ring up the Father, and pretty soon, there it is! The boss gives me a hard time?  I ring up the Lord and ask him to soften the old codger’s heart. Bingo!  The boss begins to mellow.

Why these folks have such a hard time getting through to heaven is a mystery to me. 

    Prayer for me is easy as pie!

Is this the testimony of a seasoned saint, or the delusion of a modern Pharisee?

In the Kingdom of God easy-breezy prayers are unknown. 

And self-righteous “super-saints” sooner or later “pray” themselves into darkness. 

In God’s Kingdom prayer begins the way our Master teaches us:

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.

When we approach the Burning Bush without taking off our shoes, faith morphs into delusion. 

When we pray to the Father with casual glibness, our prayer evaporates into thin air.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

Matthew 5

The Pharisee who gives thanks to God that he is “not like other men”, prays with great ease. 

He thinks he has a private line to heaven.

    Actually he’s just talking to himself.

The Tax Collector who stands far off crying “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” goes home with his prayer answered.

No prayer offered with integrity is ever wasted.

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.

For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”          (Matthew 7)

But the minute we presume on God’s mercy and trivialize the gift of prayer, our “prayer” evaporates into thin air.

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.

Prayer: Holy Lord, when we approach you, the Living God, keep us from being glib or self righteous. May we approach you with awe and reverence and humility, always taking off our shoes not only because of your greatness but also awed by and humbled by your unfathomable, loving mercy to us… knowing our line to you is no more special than any other soul who cries out to you for help. And knowing our line to you is the most precious, holy thing in our lives and theirs.  Amen. Maranatha Mirror
Message: Richard E. Bieber   June 2020 Printable Version
Featured Artists:  Wayne Pascall and Chris Cook at chriscookart.net

RECONNECT

I wake up and realize that I’ve drifted far from the faith I once had.

       Something is pulling at my soul.

               A voice is calling to my heart….

                     …to reconnect with God.

To start breathing the air of heaven again.

But where to start?

 “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.”                

            Isaiah 45

Turn.

Turn the heart away from the darkness and open it to the light.

It’s not a matter of traveling land and sea to find God.

It’s a matter of turning the heart toward God, right where we are.

“Create in me a clean heart, O God,

And renew a right spirit within me.

Cast me not away from thy presence,

And take not thy Holy Spirit from me.

Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation,

And uphold me with thy free Spirit.”

 Psalm 51

Prayer: Holy Lord, oh how far we drift from you at times. How empty, sad, and lost we feel as we drift away. Lord call us back. Reconnect us with you. We do want to breathe the life of heaven again. We want to be rescued from darkness and despair. We turn to you now. We seek you. We set our minds on you. Cleanse our hearts. Renew a right spirit within us. Draw us into your presence. Fill us again with your light, with the joy of your presence so our hearts sing of you again. Amen.  Maranatha Mirror
Message: Richard E. Bieber  2015          Printable Copy    
Featured Art: Neil Breebaart at Facebook. com/BreebaartNeil

RECONNECTING

Faith in God can be pretty empty, when you feel disconnected.

     “Yes, I believe in God, but much of the time I wonder whether God believes in me.”

     “Does he see me?”

     “Does he know what I’m going through?”

“I feel disconnected from ‘the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.'”

If only those moments of clear vision would come more often!  Why do we have to spend our days in this twilight zone of uncertainty?

The men and women who walked this road before us learned how to reconnect with God day-by-day, hour-by-hour, and moment-by-moment.

         They did it by deliberately “setting their minds on things above.”

                     By setting their minds on the things of the Spirit.

                        By “abiding in the Vine” with an act of the will.

The faulty connection is not on God’s side, but on ours.

Repairing the faulty connection is not God’s job but ours.

“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 3:1-4

 
Message: Richard E. Bieber  2003 Printable Version
Featured Art: Neil Breebaart at Facebook. com/BreebaartNeil

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.

                       Ephesians 6

 
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.
Maranatha Mirror
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.”

                                 Matthew 27

  “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.”

                                                       John 8

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

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