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 Posted September 8, 2023


Jesus tells us unless we turn and become like children we will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven. But notice in what connection He says this. Jesus says this to the disciples and to us,

  Because we are forever worried about our own greatness,

  Because we compare ourselves with one another,

  Because our hearts become anxious over the fact that others aren’t showing us proper respect.

A little child doesn’t worry about its greatness, is not ashamed to be dependent on its parents, does not live behind a mask, is satisfied to be what it is.

A little child is open and teachable. In this sense, and only in this sense, we are to be children all our days. Children of the heavenly father…. open, teachable, dependent upon him.

But in every other respect  we are to grow up. We are to grow up into Christ, to be like Jesus.

 … Not Jesus in the manger.

But Jesus the man,

Jesus the Son who did the father’s will.

Jesus who accomplished the work he was sent here to do.

The tragedy is, that in areas that Jesus commands us to be children, we try to be men… Big shots, heavies. And in areas that Jesus calls us to function as mature men and women of God…. we insist on remaining babies.

-We want to be big shots when it comes to our relationship with God; and there we should be as children.

-We want to be big shots in the sight of other men; and there we should be as children.

But when it comes to the warfare we have been put out here to live through… we insist on remaining infantile.

We want to go through our whole lives…

     Excusing our…

Our willfulness,

Our stupidity,

Our pettiness,

Our unreliable ways….

By saying, “but Lord, you know me. I’ve never been able to grow up.”

But that’s exactly what we’re called to do…

 We are called to grow up! 

 Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.  (1 Corinthians 14:20)

Until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ. (Ephesians 4:13-15)

A Person Who is Grown Up in Christ is… 

  1. No Longer Gullible

A person who has grown up into Christ is no longer gullible, tossed to and fro and carried about by every wind of doctrine.

When a man is a spiritual baby it’s understandable if he is at times misled and talked into believing and doing ridiculous things. God’s angels have a way of watching over spiritual babes. And there will come a time when any man who has caused a spiritual babe to stumble will pay an awful price.

But I see people who’ve been following Jesus long enough to know better… Still letting themselves get sucked into every new gust of wind that comes along. Either they’re running around solving problems they have neither the power or the wisdom to cope with, or they’re forever delving into some new doctrine, or pursuing some new mystical experience, or finding some new “New Testament Church” that claims to be the only one.

What’s really happening is that they’re letting themselves get corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.

-They’re getting away from Jesus himself into experiences, doctrinal positions, exotic ministries.

 -They’re drifting farther and farther from the cross, and the blood, and the living word which Jesus still speaks to their hearts…. if they’d only listen.

The message of the Spirit to such people is,

“Make up your mind. Do you want to grow up into Christ and be a man or woman of God, or do you want to spend the rest of your life as a gullible babe tossed around by the winds of the hour?”

  1. No Longer Living in A Fantasy/Imaginary World

A person who has grown up into Christ has emerged from the world of fantasy into the real.

A child’s imaginary world is wonderful.

-It can picture beauty in the midst of squalor.

-It can see enemies lurking behind every tree.

-It can hear music that isn’t there.

 But when the child grows up and becomes a man,

-He no longer allows his imagination to turn his life into a dream or into a nightmare.

-He no longer retreats into the world of fantasy to escape his problems.

And as we passed from spiritual infancy into manhood and womanhood, the same thing must  happen.

Shortly after we were reborn, many of us entertained fantastic ideas about ourselves and what we could do. We thought of ourselves as budding healers, prophets, gifted problem solvers, heavy teachers, evangelists that were going to set the world on fire.

Our imagination was at work in us the way it’s at work and any child. Perhaps alone in our room, kneeling in prayer, we picture ourselves casting out demons all over the place, raising the dead by the dozen, and with the intuition of children, we managed to evade putting these fantastic ideas about ourselves to the test, kept the pretend game going and many of us are still at it. But the time comes when we have to drop the fantasy and face reality, and admit that we are living in a world where nothing is that simple.

 Nothing is simple but our relationship with Jesus Christ. And we have to accept the fact that God didn’t send us to go charging around doing dramatic things… at least not yet. God sent us to work in his vineyard in simple down to earth ways.

  1. No Longer Governed by Moods

A person who has grown up into Jesus Christ is no longer governed by moods. How pitiful to see believers who have been walking with Jesus for some time…

-Still indulging in tantrums, spending days on end in a pout, nursing grudges,

-Still jumping up and down in their favorite mud puddle of self pity,

-Still seeing how miserable they could make the people who have to live with them.

Babies waddling from one infantile mood to another, when we should have grown up long ago. People who have fantastic insight and marvelous gifts are destroying their own effectiveness by insisting on dragging their childhood emotional behavior right along with them. God puts up with it for a while. Then he says “either grow up into my son or baby yourself to hell.”

  1. No Longer Distracted from Keeping Commitments

A person who has grown up into Christ keeps commitments.

Whenever scripture talks about self-control, That’s what it means. Self-control is not merely restraining yourself from murder, rape, gluttony, and booze….

-It’s making yourself do what you’re committed to do.

-It’s controlling yourself right to where you’re supposed to be.

Self and flesh do not control you, rather you, in the power of the living Christ control self and make it obey.

Believers who are forever late, missing work because they have a headache, breaking appointments they make with others because something else came up…or because they don’t have peace about it, are still babies.

How could God possibly entrust them with responsibility?

Some of us seem to be baffled by the fact that we never last in any one place very long. We wonder why, within a couple of years, our effectiveness seems to be gone. Nobody takes what we say seriously anymore.

Ask yourself before the Lord,

-Are you keeping your commitments?

-Are you where you say you’re going to be when you say you’ll be there?

-Do you return what you borrow?

-When you do a job, is it done right, or does someone have to come behind you and straighten it out? Or, does it take you three days to do a day’s work because you’re forever getting sidetracked into “spiritual talk” or “spiritual meditation” when you should be working?

  1. No Longer Quitting when the Going Gets Hard

A person who has grown up into Christ no longer quits when the going gets hard. “Lord, I want to be baptized with the Holy Spirit and with fire?”

But as soon as the fires start coming, little trials, little hurts, little disappointments, minor danger… they’re gone!

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.

2 Peter 1:5-7

Nobody expects an infant to be steadfast. But without steadfastness no man is a man or woman is a woman. To be a man or woman of God you have to face the fact that things will get rough. Jesus never promised that they’d be smooth.

And don’t be looking around worrying about whether the Lord is going to lead your brother through a fire as hot as yours or wondering whether Peter, James and John didn’t have it easier back there in those technicolor Bible days.

Keep your eye on the road God gave you to walk and on the Savior who walks ahead of you, suffering flames a million times hotter than yours, and keep going.

 -In season and out of season.

-When people smile, and when they turn their backs.

-Even when they start throwing rocks and bottles.

-Even when brothers and sisters start dropping away…..

….keep going!

 Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age   (Matthew 28:20)

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.   (Joshua 1:9)

So that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.  Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ (Ephesians 4:14-15)

Many of us have been clinging to our spiritual infancy instead of the Cross of Jesus Christ. We’ve been trying to hang on to the security, and warmth, and leisure, and excuses that are permissible only to spiritual infants.

But my friends God will not allow our spiritual infancy to extend forever. The father is telling many of us that we now have to make up our minds. Either settle for a new babysitter… whose name is Satan….

….or grow up into Jesus Christ and go on with him where he leads….

…. Take your choice!

Prayer: Yes Lord, help us to grow up into you, to make the choice to stop being children. Forgive us for making excuses for our childish behavior. May we stop being gullible and being led by and obsessed by things that actually lead us away from you. May we give up our fantasies, our delusions of grandeur, and be willing to serve you in simple, humble ways. May we stop being ruled by our moods, carried away by anger, jealousy, fear, and self pity. May we handle our emotions with grace and maturity. May we keep our commitments, act responsibly, control ourselves in every way. May we not pout, not give up and quit when things don’t go our May we be steadfast and keep going…. knowing you are with us. Help us Lord, help us be the adults you call us to be, to accomplish all that you call us to, and to be grown up enough to follow where you lead. Amen.
Maranatha Mirror
Message: Richard E. Bieber Exact date unknown, but most likely 1972.  Sharable/Printable Copy
Featured Artist: Various artists via Pixabay  Website: Pixabay

 Posted August 11, 2023


Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

(Hebrews 11:1)

   Imagine what it would be like if our land was struck by a plague in which 80% of the population is infected with a disease unheard of before for which there is no vaccine or antibiotic. In this plague, the victim slowly changed from flesh and blood human beings into immaterial spirits. With each day that passes, the victim has less and less substance, becomes more and more like a shadow, eats less and less, is less and less visible or audible, has less and less contact with the world of matter, until finally there’s nothing left at all.

   How would you like to be married to a spirit? How would you like to cook dinner for a ghost that can’t even hold a fork? Absurd as this may sound, there is a disease very similar to this which, since apostolic days, has attacked the church of Jesus Christ at certain times. We’re witnessing such a plague even now. A plague in which followers of Jesus…. the more “faith” they seemed to have, the more “spiritual” they seem to become…lose their substance.

   They don’t become ghosts, they still have bodies. Yet there is something insubstantial about them. Something cloudy, nebulous. It’s as if they were only half there anymore. You wonder if they leave any footprints when they walk in the mud. It’s almost as if they’ve already left this world for the world of spirits, while their bodies and their faces and their voices keep going through the motions of living.

   These people are often sweet, tender, full of gentle praises to God. They like to gather together and hear good teaching…. 

…. But nothing ever comes of it in their concrete life. 

Their concrete life of flesh and blood is hardly distinguishable from the lives of people who never met Jesus…. Except perhaps, for a lack of zest. The blood of Jesus has no effect on their dinner table, their marriage bed, their jobs, their studies. These things go by remote control while their spirits take off into the world of mist, shadow, and vapor. 

This is not what it means to be born again of the spirit…. 

This is not what it means to become a spiritual man or woman…. 

This is not what it means to be a stranger and a pilgrim in this world…. 

  This is a disease!

When believers lose their substance, They’re not spiritual, they’re sick!

“And the Word was made flesh and lived among us.”

God the Son didn’t come here as a ghost…. He came here as a man. 

When he died on that cross, he bled real blood. And Jesus didn’t come here to change us into ghosts.

He healed sick bodies.

He opened blind eyes.

He fed the hungry.

The people who drew near to him and committed their lives to him in faith, far from melting away into the spirit world became…. 

more concrete, 

more solid, 

more real than ever before. 

Unstable Peter became exactly what Jesus made him…. A rock.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Modern translators have eliminated that word substance and put in assurance, confidence etc. No doubt they know what they’re doing when it comes to translating Greek into English. But there is a truth contained in the old King James rendering which is badly needed at this time. 

When a man believes the word which God speaks to him, he immediately has within him the substance of the thing God promised…. The things he’s looking forward to.

When he believes God’s promise to him, he is no longer wishing, he is no longer playing games with himself as he does when he buys a lottery ticket and dreams of what he’ll do with his winnings. 

He’s got something solid and real in him that makes him solid and real and holds him …. while the storms of change rage around him. For instance,

If Jesus says to us, “low I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” And we believe that, (the very believing which is itself a miracle of the Holy Spirit)  is somehow a substantial fulfillment of the promise. We don’t just have the “feeling” that he’s there, we have his actual presence. And as we continue to believe, Jesus manifests his presence right down in this world of flesh and blood.

 If Jesus tells us, “Wherever two or three of you are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of you”, and we believe that, and we are careful to gather in his name and no other, than the very confidence that Jesus is here becomes a window through which we see into that other dimension which penetrates this world, and here he is. And the evidence that Jesus is here crosses over from the world of spirit into the world of matter. 

His presence becomes substance indeed.

 If Jesus tells us, in the face of all the condemnation and hopelessness and discouragement we feel, that our sins are forgiven and we believe him, our very believing his word becomes a substance of the peace we were looking for. Now it’s not just for forgiveness out there talking to us, it’s forgiveness in here…. in our hearts. If the substance of the things hoped for isn’t there, inside your heart, then whatever you have is not really faith. It may be positive thinking, or wishful thinking, or self-hypnosis, or auto suggestion, but it’s not faith in the living God.

Faith is the substance of things hoped for…

Faith is that solid anchor which holds you even when the misgivings and doubts and temptations rage like a hurricane on the surface of your mind. 

All through scripture we see that substance is the one characteristic of the man or woman of faith.

Abraham had substance.

Moses had substance.

Esther had substance.

Jeremiah had substance.

They weren’t ghosts, they were real people who took God at his word until God’s word became substance in their very flesh. 

They didn’t escape this world for the world of the spirit…. 

They brought heaven down into the world of matter. 

Through their flesh and blood bodies, by faith, they ministered heaven to the people around them.

This climaxed with the son of God himself…. who walked this earth as a man, trusted his Father for every breath he drew, prayed as every other man has to pray. And he made things happen in the world of the flesh.

The thing about Jesus was that he had substance. 

The world could despise Jesus, it could reject him, it could belittle him, it could mock him. But it could not turn him away from doing the Father’s will. It could not frighten him or discourage him. There was, in this frail man, who got tired and thirsty and hungry like any other man, the substance of the Godhead.

And the word became flesh and dwelt among us full of grace and truth.

The eternal word by whom the world’s were made is embodied in this man.

In him dwelleth the boldness of the Godhead bodily.

He atoned for human sin in a body

He rose from the dead in a body….

He sits at the right hand of glory in a body.

When Jesus says to us, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me,” He is offering us now, in this life and in these bodies, the substance of the God our hearts have been thirsting for.

  1. I am the Way.The way to the Father is not a ghost or a docetic appearance but a man. In Jesus the material does not melt into spirit…. The spiritual comes down into ordinary matter and makes it a sacrament. God and man are sat down at table and commune over bread and wine. And if you follow Jesus as the Way, you do what he does. In his name you pour yourself out to others in ordinary material ways…. You share your bread with others and your table becomes like his table. You share your car, your house, your handshake, your small talk with somebody at work…. all become sacraments. The more you follow Jesus, the less spiritual you appear in this world. But God is in every ordinary thing you do.
  2. I am the Truth.” In Jesus, truth doesn’t evaporate into a philosophy. Truth descends from the highest heaven and embodies itself in a man who can be known and loved and who does things.  “What is truth?” says Pilate. He’s looking into the very eyes of truth made flesh and can’t recognize it because it has substance.

If you continue in my word, then you are my disciples indeed and you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free. 

….You’ll be free from your spiritual ego to do God’s will in ordinary flesh and blood life.

  1. I am the Life.” Life is not some mystery you unlock through monastic discipline on a far off mountain top…. life is not something you experience by degrading this material body through carousing and dissipation. Life is something you enter by knowing Jesus. And when you know Jesus, and keep knowing him, that life takes on substance in your flesh.

   “He that hath the Son hath life. He that hath not the Son hath not life.”

Our Lord invites us to his table not as ghosts…. not as half dead bodies whose spirits have gone off into the other worlds…. But as real people.

He died in a real body for our healing and now he gives us real bread to eat for our healing. 

He shed real blood for our forgiveness and now he gives us real wine to drink for our forgiveness. 

Then, Jesus Christ the son of God sends us out as real flesh and blood people to be sacraments to real people with real problems out there in the real world.

And when he says that he goes with us and dwells in us…. we can be sure that his presence in us is as real as the bread and wine in us.

Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

God grant that the truth of this may be confirmed to us. That the ordinary movements of our lives may feel the touch of the hand of Jesus as we serve him in these bodies of flesh and blood.

Prayer: Yes, Lord Jesus, give us substance. Dwell in us in such a way that our lives are more than fleeting shadows. Make our lives and our faith so solid, so concrete, so real, that we bring your healing, your real substance….your very real presence to those around us. Draw us so close to you that we are able to bring heaven now into this world of flesh and blood…sharing ourselves in very real, ordinary ways…wrapped up in your truth…filled with a sacramental life that nourishes this world with your real body and your real blood. Amen.
Maranatha Mirror
Message: Richard E. Bieber Unknown date … .but found in a recently discovered old booklet “Discipleship, A Positive View” in which some of the other sermons were from 1972 & 1973.   Sharable/Printable Copy
Featured Artist: Ineke Hopgood   Website:

 Posted July 29, 2023


“For God sent His Son into the world not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.”  (John 3:17)

There are two lying spirits that follow in the shadows behind every child of God who makes his way through this world. If we could see them, these spirits would appear as different from each other as day from night. But they have the same master and they work for the same goal.

Both of these lying spirits seek to rob God’s children of that daily constant experience of God’s love that they are meant to have. 

Without the consciousness that God’s love is right there and without the joy it brings….

– we have no strength,

– we can’t live the life,

– we stumble,

– we suffer defeat after defeat….

Or else we live up there on Cloud 9 completely out-of­-touch with reality – useless to God and man.

The name of the first of these lying spirits is Condemnation.

The name of the second is False Peace.

These two spirits work together as two hands on the same body. They watch the believer’s mind 24 hours a day. The minute the victim becomes slightly dejected, Condemnation winks at his partner and moves up beside the  dejected soul.

“How’s it going friend?”

“Bogue man, bogue! Don’t know why I can’t walk this road like other believers can.”

“Did it ever occur to you”, says Condemnation “that perhaps you’re just not the type to get into all this spiritual stuff? Some people, you know, just don’t have the temperament or the will power.”

“Man, you must be reading my mind! I was just wondering about that! Maybe I’ve been trying to live a life I could never live in a million years.”

“Maybe.” says Condemnation, “Tell me about your past.”

”You would bring that up! To tell you the truth, from the day I was born right down to this minute, it’s been nothing but failures and mistakes.

“Failures and mistakes, eh? Do you want to know why?”

“Why?”, says the victim.

Now Condemnation, takes off the kid gloves and moves in for the kill.

“Because you’re no good; you’ve never been any good; and you never will be. You’re a mess and you always will be!”

“You’re right, man, you’re right. Hit the nail on the head. Why should I deny it. I’m no good and I might as well give up.”

With this the condemned soul turns aside from the road of Faith and returns to his old bondage. 

But who con­demned him? 

He was condemned, not by the truth, not by the light of the living God, but by a lying spirit.

When you feel condemned you can be sure that this con­demnation is not coming from God. It is coming from a lying spirit. And if you will but call on the name of the Son of God and cover yourself with the blood, Condemnation will evaporate. He’ll run back into the shadows from whence he came.

“Woman, where are your accusers? Has no one condemned you?”

“No one, Lord.”

“Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.”

There is, therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

At other times as Condemnation and False Peace trail in the shadows behind the saints they see the mind of the believer starting to lift and float free from the ground of reality. The believer is elated. Things have been going rather well.

So False Peace gives his partner a punch on the arm and dances up alongside the elated saint.

“Well, I see you’ve learned the secret of Christian success.”

“Really?”, says the victim. “I didn’t know I was doing that well. But I must admit that things have been mellow.”

“And why shouldn’t they be?”, says False Peace. “Doesn’t St. John say he wants you to prosper and be in health? I’m glad you’re not like so many of those gloom and doom believers.”

“But I suppose”, answers the victim, “that one day there will be persecution too.”

“Careful, careful! You’ll ruin everything if you start thinking those negative thoughts. Think positive!”, says False Peace.

“Man, you’re a pleasant companion to have on this road. I feel so relaxed when you’re around. I used to be a bit uncom­fortable about my ease and success when I looked at those saints over there pouring their hearts out and spending themselves. You’ve been a real comfort. Will you stay with me?”

“Of course”, answers False Peace as he winks to his companion back in the shadows.

“For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing; not knowing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind and naked. Therefore I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, (by paying the price of obedience) that you may be rich. And white garments to clothe you and to keep the shame of your nakedness from being seen, and salve to anoint your eyes that you may see.”

When Jesus visited the people of Israel with the gospel of the kingdom almost every soul he met was either living in a state of condemnation or in a state of false peace.

Victims of Condemnation

Jesus was able to help those people who were suffering from condemnation.

He opened their blind eyes.

He healed their broken hearts.

He forgave their sin — took away their guilt.

  “The kingdom of God is here and it’s a banquet of love. Come, the Door is open.”

Everywhere Jesus went they brought the sick and laid them at His feet. People with tormented spirits pressed toward Him in the crowds, because they knew….

– This man would not condemn them.

– This man wasn’t going to push them aside.

– This man would give them life.

  “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.

  He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind. To set at liberty those who are oppressed.”

Everywhere Jesus went those condemned people came away singing and praising God. They never saw such wonderful things as Jesus was revealing to them.

Victims of False Peace

But with the victims of false peace, it was a different story. They were so sure they had the love of God, so certain that they were already in possession of all the blessings, that when Jesus came inviting them to draw near to Him and really taste God’s love they turned their backs.

The only helpful, loving thing Jesus could do for these victims of false peace was to bring them under conviction (not condemnation, conviction).

– To prick their conscience.

– To awaken their spirits to the true danger they were in,

One day Jesus was invited to dinner at the house of an influential Pharisee. This dinner at the Pharisee’s house was, according to Luke, Jesus’ last major effort toward the Pharisees. After this He turned to the streets and lanes of the city – to the poor and the maimed and the halt and the blind. Jesus ended his discourse in the Pharisee’s house with the parable about the man who gave a great banquet and the people who made excuses.

Jesus does not simply tell these Pharisees and lawyers “God loves you.” Jesus says to them rather;

 “God loves you so much that He has prepared a kingdom for you and invited you into it. But if you don’t answer His invi­tation – if you cling to your false peace – you’ll never taste of that Kingdom.”

Jesus wasn’t trying to shake them up just for the sake of shaking them up. Jesus was telling these smug, proper, letter-perfect, loveless men the awful danger of their situation.

“God is calling you now to come into His Kingdom. And you are so blinded by false peace that you go your own way as if it were nothing?

If’ you don’t turn around and answer the call that I’m giving you right now, you will never enter the Kingdom of God.”

Jesus was not condemning these men. Jesus was not say­ing to them, “You people are hopeless!”

He was saying,

“The day of your salvation is now. The time to do what you know God is calling you to do is now.”

If these men refuse to yield to this conviction that Jesus brings to bear upon them in his love, they condemn themselves.

Christendom Today

The Spirit of Jesus is now making what may well be His final pass through official Christendom, calling those people who long ago received their invitation to God’s banquet of love to “Come for all things are now ready.” Telling them that the time has now come for them to put every other attachment aside and come to the banquet.

After this final swing through Christendom we will see Jesus less and less in the official churches and more and more in the streets and lanes of the city among the poor and the maimed and the halt and the blind, the forgotten, the neglected, the despised ….people the churches haven’t been paying any attention to.

He’ll be out in the highways and hedges of the planet while Christendom with all its Christian trap­pings will be delivered over to the spirit of the Anti-Christ.

And the thing Jesus comes up against in these Christian people today is exactly what he came up against in the house of that Pharisee so long ago – False Peace.

“Who says we have to come to the Banquet right this minute?

Who says we have to give up our own very worthy activities and do things your way?

Look, man, I love God just as much as you do. Just because I’m busy at the moment with my field and my beautiful wife and my five yoke of oxen doesn’t mean I don’t love God!”

The message of the Spirit of Jesus to every one of us today whose mind is enveloped in false peace, or in whose soul are regions where the vapor of false peace still lingers… is a warning.

Behind the warning is unspeakable love;

– Love that drove Him to the Cross to lay down His life for us,

– Love that wants every one of us and every soul on earth to be a guest at that banquet.

The message is­;

“Come for all things are now ready.”

“The time for good intentions is past. Now it’s time for action, radical obedience, absolute surrender to Jesus.”

“Don’t get tangled up in the cares and riches and pleasures of this life. Come to something better. Don’t play spiritual games. Get on the road of discipleship, which is the only road which leads to the Banquet Hall.”

When the Pharisees sat there and looked at Jesus as if he were some kind of nut, Jesus – the Incarnate Son of God – left and went out and gathered the lost sheep of the House of Israel, and who knows how many lost Gentiles, into a kingdom those Pharisees will never see.

Now it’s our turn to answer His call … to break out of our False Peace and follow Jesus all the way – on His terms  – letting go of everything that tries to hold us back.

If you have already left all to follow Jesus, hearing this call will only strengthen you and encourage you to keep going, to tighten the loose cords and to straighten the things in your life that are crooked.

If you are not on that discipleship road – if you are still trying to serve both God and mammon – still doing your own thing even though it seems to be a very spiritual thing, you know exactly what Jesus is saying to you right now:

“Break loose from that other stuff and come with me.”

He says it to you in love. Because what Jesus has for you not only on the Last Day, but right now is so much better than the thing you’re into.

The feast begins immediately.

– As soon as you let go of everything else and take hold of him.

– As soon as you begin truly to follow Jesus.

The time to act is not tomorrow or next week when your headache is gone, but now.

Send that lying spirit of False Peace back to his buddy over there in the shadows and join yourself to Jesus as He leaves the dinner table of the Pharisees and goes out into the streets and the lanes of the city, on to the highways and hedges of the country. Follow Him to the Banquet hall of the living God.

Indeed, the Banquet begins as soon as you start to follow.

“Come, for all things are now ready”

Prayer: Lord. As you call us, may neither false peace nor condemnation make us turn our backs to you. When we feel condemned, may we hear your call of love and embrace the healing you offer us, may it release us from guilt. May instead we be so touched by your perfect mercy that our hearts are filled with song. And Lord, for those of us who are victims of the false peace that separates us from truly following you…please convict us of the danger we are in. Help us to lay aside everything that prevents us from entering your banquet of love, pull us out of the grip of the Spirit of the Antichrist. May we have the vision and the desire to follow you with all we have and enter your feast now. Amen.
Maranatha Mirror
Message: Richard E. Bieber 2015   Sharable/Printable Copy
Featured Artist: Andrey Mironov a 21st century Russian artist who graciously places his works in the public domain at

 Posted July 11, 2023


John’s vision

And I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals; and I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?”

Revelation 5:1-2

 The scroll reveals the closing chapter of life in this world as we know it.

A period of upheaval.

A time of judgment.

The hour when the powers of darkness fight their final battle.

When God’s World finally floods the universe and restores this earth to what it was meant to be.

The scroll is sealed

The events in the scroll will not unfold until the seals are broken.

And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it,  and I wept much that no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look in to it. Then one of the elders said to me, “Weep not; lo, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”

Revelation 5:3-5

The Lion of the tribe of Judah

  He is the Lion who rules.

  He is the Lamb who atones.

  He alone can break the seals and set events in motion.

And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders, I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth; And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne.

                                             Revelation 5:6-7

As the Lamb breaks the seals, and the angels blow their trumpets and empty their vials, we are made aware of four things:

— What is about to happen is determined by God.

— The kingdom of darkness has entered its final battle.

— All evil is exposed to the light of Eternity and judged.

—The City of God arrives as the New Creation. 

When will it happen?

 2,000 years and we’re still waiting.

 How much longer will we wait?

 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. 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.

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

When followers of Jesus are despised by all nations (including U.S.A.) we can expect the Lamb to start breaking those seals.

The signs we now see are telling us that that day is near! 

Prayer: Holy Lord, worthy Lamb of God we leave the unsealing of the scrolls in your worthy hands. Instead of fear may we look forward to the destruction of all evil and all suffering. We have no control of the events that are unfolding. But we do ask that you give us what we need to remain faithful, that we are not led astray, that we are not alarmed and afraid, and that we are able to keep our hearts set on you as the seals are broken. As we face hatred, may the presence of your holiness and goodness be so strong that we feel ourselves wrapped in your pure love and experience heaven in the midst of your judgment. Amen
Maranatha Mirror
Message: Richard E. Bieber May 2021   Sharable/Printable Copy
Featured Artists: Licensed for use by Pat Marvenko Smith © Pat Marvenko Smith -Revelation Productions at


 Posted June 16, 2023


 To everything is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven.

Ecclesiastes 3:1

Even though it looked like just another day to everyone else, Noah knew that the time had come for him to take his family into the ark. There came a time for the Israelites to go over and take the Promised Land. And because they failed to move when that time came, that generation died in the wilderness. The times and the seasons that lie ahead of us are not for us to know. But God expects his people to know the time in which they live.

When you see a cloud rising in the west you say at once, a shower is coming, and so it happens. And when you see the south wind blowing you say, there will be scorching heat, and it happens. You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?

Luke 12:54-57

There is no lack of people who dabble in Bible prophecy. They love to speculate about which politician is going to be the Antichrist, or how long it will be before the armies of Gog sweep down from the north against Israel. They sit in their armchairs and draw maps and diagrams of the end times and dream about being raptured.

When our Lord tells us to interpret the signs and know the meaning of the hour in which we live, it’s not so that we can play Bible games in our living rooms and send out warning videos on social media. He tells us so that we can fit into God’s program, so that we can do the things that need to be done. What’s the point of knowing it’s going to rain if you don’t get into the ark?

It’s all very well to know that we’re living in an hour of judgment… But if we aren’t ordering our lives as men and women who are living in an hour of judgment, then, when judgment really begins to fall, we are as vulnerable and useless as the people who never knew. 

And it’s all very well to know that we’re living in a time of harvest… But if we never take a step toward those harvest fields, what good is our knowledge or our warnings? They will rise up and condemn us.

The five foolish virgins in Matthew 25 knew that it was the time of the Bridegroom’s coming. They were absolutely right to go out to meet the bridegroom. But they never got around to translating their knowledge of the hour into real living, so they weren’t able to sustain that hope while the bridegroom delayed, and their lamps went out.

There are lots of people who, years ago, were singing “we’ll see the face of Jesus” with tears running down their cheeks. They had a clear sense of the time… They knew the hour was late… They knew the Messiah’s coming was near… And if he had come right away, they would have been all set. But they didn’t have any oil in their lamps. They couldn’t sustain that consciousness of the time they were living in. Now they’re running all over the place trying to find oil for their lamps.

The words that Jesus spoke to his disciples by that well in Samaria have a special application for the church on earth at this hour.

Jesus is saying to his disciples, “Don’t you understand what time it is? Can’t you read the obvious signs? You say there are yet four months then comes the harvest!… Open your eyes, harvest time is already here! 

Don’t look at the fields, look at the people!… Look at them… they’re ripe!… people just waiting to be reached for the Kingdom.”

“Why master, isn’t that interesting. It reminds me of a book I just read on missions… very stimulating. As a matter of fact, Lord, everything you said about the harvest ties in with what brother Barnabas was saying at Bible study last week. What a wonderful thing to be living at this crucial hour! I’m going to go straight home and write a song about it.”

Jesus had just harvested A Samaritan woman for the Kingdom of God. What a joy to see this woman’s heart melt and open and reach out for the things of God … One soul turning from darkness to light. And now here she comes with a crowd of people whose hearts want whatever it is that Jesus gave to her. 

They have to be harvested! 

Don’t talk about it…. don’t sing about it…. don’t read books about it… don’t bemoan social decay on social media…. don’t just endlessly pray about it…

… do it!

This is exactly the situation in which the church finds itself at this hour. The time in which we now live is harvest time. For all their confusion, their hostility, their cynicism about churchianity…

People are searching for the Christ their inmost hearts tell them must exist somewhere… 

People are waiting for the truth to come and speak to them. 

Don’t say “We still have four months”….lift up your eyes. Don’t say, “We need more time to prepare,”  ….We don’t have any more time to prepare… 

The harvest is already here.

To harvest these people, do exactly what Jesus did with that Samaritan woman.

  1. Jesus dealt with her personally.

 He didn’t say, “Madam, see if you can round up a church full of people for me to preach to. After all, I’m Jesus of Nazareth… I don’t have time to mess with ones and twos.” Jesus dealt with this woman as if she were the only living soul on earth. He wasn’t in a hurry… he wasn’t impatient… He didn’t try to cram it down her throat. He took her seriously!

And God isn’t keeping score of how many souls you are instrumental in saving. God is interested in whether you really care about that one person he sends across your path today.

  1. Jesus offered her life.

“Lady you’re a sinner and if you don’t change your ways you’re going to go to hell!”… none of that. She knew that already. Jesus said, “Ask me, and I’ll give you living water.”  That’s what we have for those fainting ones out there… living water to  satisfy forever the thirst of their inmost hearts.

“If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to,  you would ask me, and I would give you living water.”.

John 4:10

And people will come to that living water that flows from your heart and be brought to life. You’re not going to be standing there holding an empty bucket. You go out there offering living water and God will give that living water… God will make it flow. People will come to you and say, “Give me this water,” and God himself will answer their prayer by bringing them into living communion with Jesus himself.

  1. Jesus manifested God’s presence to this woman.

 When Jesus is through talking to this lady, she knows more clearly than she ever knew before that God really does know everything about her… it’s awesome! And she knows that God desires her worship. And that’s exactly what will happen to the people we minister to in the name of Christ… they will suddenly realize that God does know them, and that God does want their worship.

Once there was this little old man who kept walking by us down on Woodward Ave. Every time he swears and says “Don’t come around here with those fairy tales….there is no God!” But he keeps coming back. What that man’s heart is saying is, “Please tell me that God does know me… please tell me that God does want me… please keep telling me these things until I know them once more.”

  1. Jesus so blessed this woman that she had to share it with others

Come see a man who told me all I ever did! 

Is not this the Christ?

John 4:29

When Jesus sends us out to harvest, He equips us to touch their lives in such a way that they will be unashamed to admit they have been touched by the Christ. If my drinking problem has suddenly ended … if my depression has lifted… if that load of guilt has vanished from my mind… if that sickness has gone from my body… if that prison door in my circumstances has blown open, do you think I’m going to be ashamed to give Jesus the credit? 

People will start giving God glory as they experience his grace through your ministry.

One more thing to remember: when Jesus sent the disciples out he made clear to them that they hadn’t prepared those fields for harvesting. They hadn’t planted any seed… they hadn’t weeded and cultivated. This was all done by other people. The disciples were being sent to enter into the labors of others who had worked so hard, who had shed their blood to prepare that harvest.

I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor.

Others have labored and you have entered into their labor.

John 4:38

So it is with us. We aren’t starting some new thing. How ridiculous for believers who are seeing some results to think that they’ve started something new.

“Come and see what we’ve got going here… we know how to do it!”  What an insult to those whose labors prepared the soil long ago… what an affront to the Lord whose blood and Spirit alone make it possible. Others have labored and we have entered into their labors.

We have entered into the labor of our Lord himself who won the battle on the cross and is now sending us out with the news of his victory.

We have entered into the labors of countless brothers and sisters in Israel and in the church… little old ladies… eccentric men… solitary watchmen…forgotten servants of God who prayed and gave themselves to prepare the earth for this hour.

Yes, these sowers are with the Lord right now… they’ve been praying and waiting to see this day and they are rejoicing as we go out and minister to lives that they prepared long ago. 

Soon, sowers and reapers will be rejoicing together, face to face before the throne.

Meanwhile, the harvest is there… it’s ripe!… verily bending over in readiness.

God help us to interpret this hour.

God grant that it may be our meat and drink to do the will of Him who sent us and to accomplish His work.

God anoint us all with a double portion, yes, a measureless portion of His Spirit as we go out there and reap.

 He who reaps receives wages and gathers fruit for eternal life, so that the Sower and Reaper may rejoice together.

John 4:36

Prayer: Holy Lord, we see the times we are in. We see the chaos, the twisted morals, the anger, the division, the coldness, the hardness of heart; We see nature out of control, and we see anger directed at the church. Lord, bring us out of our despair and our complaining and instead give us eyes to also see the harvest you have prepared. Help us to look beyond these things and to see the people, to really look at them and see they are ripe, they are ready to be filled with the Living Water you have sent us to give them. And yes Lord anoint us with a double portion, a measureless portion of your Spirit for this task Give us the confidence and vision to know that you have tilled and sowed…prepared their hearts to be filled and to embrace hope and life instead of darkness. Help us to bring them the light and truth they so desperately need. Lead us to really care about them personally, to give them living water… true life, to bring them your very presence…your glory that frees them from bondage and makes their hearts sing with the joy of their release with their discovery of you the Living God. And yes, may we rejoice to be part of gathering this precious fruit…rejoice together with the Sowers and you the great Sower. Amen.
Maranatha Mirror
Message: with prayer Richard E. Bieber 1973…(edited by Richard Bieber and Maranatha Mirror)
Shareable/Printable Copy
Featured Artists: Pieces by Eugene Burnand (1850-1921) and by Carlo Maratta (1625-1713) Edited using the Fotor app.


 Posted June 9, 2023



The young woman stood high up on a mountain side and before her were spread the whole world, cities and towns and villages and rivers and oceans and forests. Seven distinct roads seem to lead from where she was standing on the mountain side, and her problem was to figure out which one to take.

She heard the sound of wind blowing behind her. She turned and there in the rock face of the mountain was a door and as she looked at the door, she could tell and she could hear that the wind was blowing on the other side of that door, and she was wondering whether this was some passageway leading to a subterranean river? What was this?

 She finally opened the door, and to her amazement that door led to a totally different world.  There was not darkness there, but light- blazing light!  A sky far bluer than the blue she’d ever seen in any sky. And, from beneath her feet led one row higher and higher until it reached a throne far above. And somehow she knew that if she took that one road she would find herself down in that real world that she always knew below the mountain in exactly the place where she was to be at any given moment.

I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet saying, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.”

Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.

When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.      

Revelation 1:9-18

John doesn’t tell us the circumstances that preceded the beholding of that vision. All he tells us is that he was exiled for the word of God. He was being persecuted and he was put on this island; and doubtless he was suffering. He’s in the spirit on the Lord Day and he hears behind him a voice. In other words, he’s looking in this direction, but the voice comes from that direction. He’s trying to figure out what to do about these problems, but the voice comes from the interior world of Spirit.  He turns and he sees his Lord, clothed in splendor.

Whatever problems were on John’s mind, whatever kind of guidance he was trying to get that day were forgotten, as he’s taken into a totally different kind of guidance than he ever imagined could be. 

He is drawn into the mystery of the glory of the Lamb. And in that mystery he is given a work to perform he never imagined would be his.

When we say we need guidance we usually think in terms of …

…should I move to another town?

…should I take another job?

…should I answer this call or that call?

…what shall I do about this problem?

But these questions are not nearly as pressing as we normally think. What’s really pressing is…

   … will we turn and answer the voice that comes from the interior world, the voice of Jesus?

For if I will turn and go through that door and follow my Lord on that one road that leads up to the throne, all the external problems that I might have will soon straighten themselves out. I will find that I will be in exactly that place in the world of flesh and blood (at any given moment), where I need to be. And, I will have everything from God that I need to have.

We know that our Lord’s ministry was about three and a half years long- very brief. That ministry was the external work of an internal, unseen hidden mystery. Glory calling!

Of the first thirty years we know almost nothing about our Lord’s life. We hear a little bit about his birth. And, one incident when he’s twelve years old, nothing else. That whole season of time, that thirty years is hidden under the hand of God.  Even during his three and a half year ministry of flesh and blood, we only get hints of what’s really going on underneath the surface. He spends the whole night in prayer before he chooses the disciples. After he feeds the 5000, he goes up in the mountain and spends hours and hours in prayer. Many times, there are references to the fact that early in the morning; he gets alone with his Father.

These are glimpses that would lead us to understand that our Lord traveled not only within the narrow confines of the nation of Israel, (which was very small), along those dusty roads.   But while he was doing this, he was also traveling the infinities of God’s Spirit. He was moving in the heart of his Father. And because of this, he was guided in the world of flesh and blood. He always ended up in exactly the place he needed to be at any given moment, and he had what was necessary at that moment because he was moving in God.

He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty…

…. We can be guided by God’s hand wherever we are.  And we will be given those necessary things.

That’s exactly how our Lord lived, and that’s how we are called to live. And if we look back through the Old Testament, we see exactly the same thing.

Moses was used by God to deliver the nation of Israel from Egyptian bondage. Not only was he prepared for this for forty years in the Midian wilderness- but he doesn’t even begin his life’s work until he’s eighty years old! And during the time he exercises this ministry that God has given him, we see glimpses again that he spends long seasons in prayer up there on Mount Sinai almost, you could say unconscious.  He’s conscious of God alone-that’s all.  And because his real relationship in awesome communion with Yahweh the Father, is going on inside he is able to do the mighty things that we see taking place outside.

Isaiah, who exercises the work of a prophet in Jerusalem, only begins to move with power after he has seen a vision of God high and lifted up.

Ezekiel ministers to the exiles in the City of Babylon. His ministry is fired by these strange journeys through glory, that he takes, and we get glimpses of as we read the Book of Ezekiel.

The Apostle Paul traveled all over the Roman world. But the travels of Paul by ship and by foot were nothing compared with the traveling going on by Paul in the heart of the Heavenly Father. Years after he begins his ministry, he’s still saying, “I have counted everything lost that I might win Christ and be found in him”. He’s seeking closer and closer communion with his Lord.

So we say we feel we need guidance. And many of us have said this recently with our lips or in our hearts. And there is no question that there is a road where we are to be walking.  Each one of us is given a special road to walk, given by God. There is a work that you’re going to perform; something that you’re going to bring to that road. There is ahead of each one of us, battles, victories, miracles-marvelous things, and a cross.

But the only way you’re going to find that road, is by following the example of our Lord.  You’re not going to find it by getting on your horse and riding forth to do this dramatic thing for the Lord. Rather, you will find the road in the world where God wants you to be, only by turning around and answering the call of Jesus, who speaks behind your back. And He says, “Come and let me lead you into the heart of God”.

Guidance is not so much…. should I do this or that?

Guidance is rather answering that call …

… “Come, let me take you”

If we will answer that call and turn around and follow him up that road toward the throne. Then, everything we need out there in the world of flesh and blood will come…. in its time. 

And we will know what to do and we will have what we need. 

Jesus stands in that doorway now, so to speak, calling us and making it possible for us to walk that road that leads to the Father by means of his blood. We couldn’t move, we couldn’t even put our feet on that road if he had not shed his blood and if he had not given us his Spirit. But now, he’s done both. Now, he begins to teach us to walk the road that leads to the Father’s throne.

He teaches us how, guides us along in ascending the road to the Father’s throne by four means.

By means of Prayer

The first thing he teaches us is that we move on that road that leads up to glory by means of prayer. Notice in the gospels how much he talks about prayer.

And he told them a parable, to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.    (Luke 18:1)

“Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.    (Matthew 7:7)

On this road we are only as serious about God as we are about prayer. The person who talks a lot about God, but prays very little, or when they pray has a mind that’s wandering all over the world- is not serious about God. We can talk about how we wish God would do this and God would do that. Yet we can’t understand why we’re not getting guidance. The question has to come. What are we really doing in our prayer life? Are we really praying? Are we truly lifting our hearts to him? Are we aggressively seeking the face of God or are we still fooling around?

 He will quicken our prayers constantly, if we put something into it. God will give us all the aid we need by means of the Holy Spirit. But we have to make time for it. If we don’t make time for it- it won’t happen! “I pray while I’m doing the dishes” That’s lovely…but that’s an insult to God if that’s the only kind of prayer you give. We have to give the time, and we also have to concentrate our mind. We  have to remember that prayer is not pursuing  just things from God, but prayer is…

Pursuing God himself.

 By means of Praise

Jesus teaches us also, (if we will only let Him teach us), that as we travel that road up toward the throne, it starts to get quite steep very soon and we need more help in going upwards. Another help in ascending that road is by means of praise. The place where Jesus teaches us how to praise God the Father is in the Book of Psalms. The Book of Psalms is inspired by the Spirit of the Christ. They are the prayer book, and the hymn book of the Church and of Israel. And when you really get into the book of Psalms, you discover that the further you go, the more it becomes praise. By the time you get to the end of the Book of Psalms it’s nothing, but sheer praise.

And the praise is not directed toward men or toward women, or toward angels, or toward the created world, but only toward God. Everything in the world exists only to praise the Father and for no other reason. Now that we’ve been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, we exist only to praise the Father. 

And speaking of praise…We praise God not in order to get power in praise.  That’s a ridiculous thing.  If I’m praising God in order to get something, then I’m not praising God, I’m working some kind of deal. “If I praise God, then things will work out”.  Nonsense! You praise God because God is worthy of praise and for no other reason. Anything less than that is not praise!

You wake up in the morning. Your heart begins to praise God, (if you’d only let it go up to Him).  All through the day, your heart will continue to praise God, (you keep it fixed on Him) and your lips will open and your mouth.

 O Lord, open thou my lips, and my mouth shall show forth thy praise.  

Psalm 51:15

And the most blessed time of the whole week ought not to be attending church out of duty, but to attend in order to praise God. When the saints gather to truly praise the Lord, there’s no other time in the week like it. No matter the type of service…. liturgy, no liturgy, contemporary, traditional…. if you come with a heart full of praise you could praise God standing on your head if you have to.

By means of Obedience…Go and Show Mercy

As we move up toward the throne. We begin to hear a sound coming from this blazing light that sits on the throne. You can’t even see who is on that throne; not with these eyes. Just light and sound that comes forth from the throne. You can’t tell if it’s a voice speaking, or if it’s thunder. You can’t distinguish. What’s this? Is it a language, or isn’t it? And the Lord then begins to teach us that we will begin to understand the voice that comes from that throne, by means of simple down to earth obedience

If you will obey what you know God has already told you, then your ears will open and it won’t sound like thunder. It will be a voice that’s speaking directly to you.

And what does the voice coming from the throne say? Basically, one thing. He says

 “Go, and show mercy”.      

Which of these three, do you think, proved neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 

He said, “The one who showed mercy on him.” And Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.” 

Luke 10:36, 37


Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ 

Matthew 9:13a

Everything God tells us to do in these bodies of flesh and blood can be summed up in just that.

..For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,  I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’  

Matthew 25:35, 36

And don’t look around and figure out how many other people have failed on that. Look at yourself, and leave it with God. Leave it with God, whether these other people failed. You might just be surprised, if you only knew.

Now, this is the way our Lord lived. Constant mercy; nothing but mercy all the time. He calls us to do the same. When he tells us to love our enemies, that’s what he’s telling us to do. He wants us simply to show to our enemies the same kind of mercy that the Father has shown to us. Sure, we’re to be wise as serpents, and innocent as doves.  We are not to cast our pearls before swine. But, we are not to hold grudges. When he says forgive seventy times seven, he is saying to take the mercies which God has shown you and turn around and show it to your neighbor.

Some of us are still sitting around waiting for that grandiose commission to go forward. We’re waiting for a dramatic, stupendous ministry.  We say to ourselves, “I haven’t heard it yet. The Lord hasn’t told me yet. I know he’s going to tell me to go on Channel 7”.

You’re never going to hear it. You’re going to sit there forever and you’ll never hear it, because God has already told you to go and show mercy right where you are.

By Means of Thanksgiving

Now you get up near the throne and the light gets so bright you can hardly stand it. Your eyes can’t stand it, nor can your skin.Now he begins to teach us that we can abide in that light before that throne by means of thanksgiving.

Look at Jesus.

At that time Jesus declared, “I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes.

Matthew 11:25

“Thank you Father for this bread, thank you Father for this wine”. The Son of God never ceases thanking his Father. How pleased he is when he sees thanksgiving, usually from the Samaritans, (the people outside the church).

Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan.

Luke 17:15, 16

It was those who gave thanks who entered into the Kingdom, and only those.

Jesus’ Ministry and ours behind it is the same. It was basically a ministry to the ungrateful. He didn’t care whether they said thanks or not, whether they joined his church, whether they repented, whether they did anything. He cared for their good. He cared; but he didn’t tie strings on the good things that he did for them.

But the only ones, who followed the signs of healing and blessing that came to them into the Kingdom of God, were those who were grateful. 

Many people reading this have been touched by God in wonderful ways. Doors have opened, things have changed, prayers have been answered, bodies and minds have been healed. Families have been healed. But those who show no gratitude for God- never change in their hearts. They go along for a while and then they’re right back where they were.

The only heart that changes…. is the heart that’s grateful to God.

I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet saying, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.”

Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.

When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.      

If you want him to guide you in this world….

…. let him first guide you every day and every hour into the heart of God.


We’re asking more that you show us exactly what this means in our own lives. Help us today Father, to know specifically what it is that will help us see what we need to see. And take those blinders off our eyes and those scales that we might once again, (or perhaps for the first time), see your mercy. Deliver us every one of us Lord God, from prayerlessness, from praiselessness, from disobedience and from thanklessness. That we may truly prove to be your sons and daughters, even in this world of flesh and blood. In the power of your Holy Spirit and in the Name of Jesus. Amen.

Prayer: Yes, Lord help us to seek guidance…such guidance that leads us to your very heart. Help us to hear your voice behind us calling us to follow you and help us to also answer your voice… “yes, yes…lead us to the heart of God”. Help us to seek you Lord, not for answered prayers…. but to pursue you for who you are. And guide us into the prayer, the praise, the obedience, the mercy, and the thankfulness that makes it possible for us to approach your very throne and dwell in the shadow of You, the Most High, the Most Magnificent One Amen.
Maranatha Mirror
Message: with prayer Richard E. Bieber 1976…Transcribed 2023  Shareable/Printable Copy
Featured Artists: Courtesy and kindness of Amy Rylander at

 Posted May 26, 2023


Jacob left Beersheba and went toward Haran. And he came to a certain place and stayed there that night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place to sleep. And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! And behold, the LORD stood above it and said, “I am the LORD, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring. Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”

Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.”  And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of Heaven.” So early in the morning Jacob took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it.  He called the name of that place Bethel…

Genesis 28:10-19a

 This was the turning point in Jacob’s life. This was his first encounter with God. And it was from this point on that Jacob began to change from Jacob the supplanter, the cheat ….. into Israel, the man who strives with God.  

Jacob called the name of the place Bethel. Beth Elohim – house of God. 

And it was here at Bethel, sleeping with this stone for his pillow that Jacob learned the three basic lessons of the Kingdom of God that absolutely must get through to our hearts if it’s going to make any sense to us at all, or ever be real in our lives. 

That he is living his life under a holy eye.

One, he is living his life under the holy eye of God. How awesome is this place? This is none other than the house of God. This is the gate of Heaven. It was like a window through which he now sees the holy. This is his first vision of the living God.

God is with him.

The second lesson Jacob learned that night was that God is with him. That he’s not alone. Now he’s on this journey because he’s scared to death, his brother Esau’s going to kill him. So now he has set out all by himself and he’s lonely and he’s frightened and he’s homesick. But now he sees that he’s not alone, that God is in fact, right there with him.

He has a purpose on this earth beyond himself.

The third lesson Jacob learns. Is that he has a purpose on this Earth beyond himself. That this land on which he’s been sleeping is to be given to him and to his children, and children’s children, his descendants. And that in a mysterious way, all the families of the earth are to be blessed through him and through them.

So early in the morning Jacob took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. 

He called the name of that place Bethel.

Bethel, Beth Elohim, house of God. 

Every man or woman or child, whoever comes into the Kingdom of God starts at Bethel, begins by learning these three lessons with Jacob.

  1. That you are living your life under the eye of a holy God.

He’s not just your buddy. He’s not out to get you and throw you into hell, but he watches, observes, remembers and to that eye, each of us has to answer.

  1. That God is with you.

This awesome and wonderful God is right here with you to help and to bless you.

  1. That you are on this earth for a purpose beyond satisfying your own needs.

You are on this earth to fulfill a purpose beyond yourself. Since the birth, life, death, resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, since he poured out his Spirit upon the assembled believers on the day of Pentecost…. Bethel, the house of God, the gate of Heaven on this earth, the place where people meet God, where they encounter the holy…. is where these followers of Jesus are functioning as his body.

Whenever and wherever believers are truly functioning as his body

…. is the House of God.

…. is the gate of Heaven.

Wherever this is the case on earth today, this miracle reoccurs. You could say that today, in a mystery, in ways beyond our comprehension…..a thousand Jacobs are stumbling into a thousand Bethels and meeting God.

But the thing we need to get clear…. very, very clear in our minds is that we have been ordained to be one of these Bethels. We gather together in our fellowships in exact spots on earth to be meeting places with God for the wandering Jacobs, the travelers who come our way. The only reason we’re on this earth and the only reason we’ve been gathered together into fellowships and we go forth from them, and gather again and go forth from them again is so that these Jacobs, male and female, who are wandering the earth and looking for something…. can stumble into their midst and learn these same three lessons; 

That they are living their life under a holy eye; 

That God is with them; 

It’s now time for them to give themselves to a purpose beyond themselves.

That’s why we’re here. 

We’re here to be a Bethel.

The model we have in the New Testament for this Bethel is not the temple. It begins not with the temple, not with the synagogue, but with a private home, an ordinary private home, where two sisters and a brother are living. 

And this home is a wonderful Bethel. 

We find that this home doesn’t have any spotlights on it, no heavenly music hovering above it. This is an ordinary private home with all the problems of any private home. But the thing that makes it a Bethel is that Jesus is totally welcomed into this home. And he’s received into this home as a friend. And he’s especially received into this home with high, high honor.

Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 

But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

Luke 10:38-42

Now both Martha and Mary want to make Jesus welcome. Martha does it by feeding him. That’s a wonderful thing, that’s a good thing she’s doing here. 

But Mary does it by sitting at his feet, drinking in every word, listening. and this is a better thing, better.

Bethel began for Jacob when Jacob listened carefully to every word God spoke to him that night. 

That’s what made it Bethel for him, he’s listening, carefully listening.

And Bethel began in this house…..when Mary sits at Jesus feet, listens, listens, drinks in every word, takes it in.  Again and again, the word of the Lord to his sheep… 

Be still and listen. 

Draw near and listen.

This means more than just going to church, listening to sermons and reading Christian literature.

It means listening for His voice….. as it’s coming forth…. from whatever the mouthpiece. 

“Listen as I speak in a thousand different ways to you”.  The word comes from many a mouth, and through many a life. And the Lord is saying to us, “Draw near and listen.”  

Don’t Lose what He’s trying to show you and tell you by bustling around in that kitchen, whatever your kitchen happens to be.

Don’t lose what He’s trying to get across to you by fussing over your personal ministry, whatever your personal ministry happens to be.

Don’t lose what He’s trying to say to you by chasing all over the place,  serving God on your terms.

Don’t lose what He’s trying to say to you…. by fuming over Mary who’s sitting at His feet, listening like she should be. 

Settle down, draw near, quiet down, simplify and listen. 

Even if it means dropping 90% of the things you think you have to do. Because nothing will happen, and nothing will work until you get the message that He’s giving you, the message He’s giving to all of us corporately and individually.  

A little farther on in the New Testament, we come across this Bethel again. Some time has elapsed. Jesus’ ministry of flesh and blood is nearing its close, but this Bethel is brighter than ever.

Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. 

The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

John 12:1-3

Now, this time, Lazarus, who has been raised from the dead by Jesus, is sitting at the table and he’s listening. Martha, bless her heart, goes right on serving. God bless her.

But Mary, this Mary who has been sitting at Jesus feet, drinking in, and drinking in, is now ready to pour out. And so she takes a pound of nard, pure nard…. a year’s wages ….and lavishes the whole thing on those feet of Jesus, where she’s been sitting and listening.

She’s doing the same thing that Jacob did. Jacob took the stone which had been his pillow, makes it a pillar and pours oil on top of it and anoints the stone.

 “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” So early in the morning Jacob took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it.  He called the name of that place Bethel…

Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear,  so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God,  and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God’s house. And of all that you give me I will give a full tenth to you.”

Genesis 28:17b-22

Jacob makes a commitment to God, placing the pillar as a sign that “Everything I have is yours. I’m giving my life. I’m committing it to you.” He’s pouring the oil on the stone as a sign of an offering of himself up to God.

Mary does the same thing. She takes this very, very expensive treasure that she has, she takes the whole thing, and she anoints his feet. And this is a sign in the same way, that she’s giving herself to Jesus, just turning herself over, abandoning herself to him.

And as she does this, the house is filled with the fragrance of the ointment. And the fragrance of the ointment is a symbol of the presence of God. Now it’s Bethel for sure!

And anybody who walks into that house, with any sense at all, any integrity at all…. can smell the presence of God.

Now for us wherever we gather should be Bethel;

….Should be the house of God; the gate of Heaven.

God brings us together from many places and backgrounds and makes us one in his son. He has broken down the wall of partition between us. And if we haven’t gone through the hole he made in that wall, it’s our fault, not his.

He made us one so that…. lonely, troubled, frightened… Jacobs, male and female, can come among us and find God.

He made us one so that…. fussing, fretting, fuming, anxious, worried Marthas, male and female, can find peace.

He made us one so that…. Lazarus’s can get up out of his tomb…. and live.

Our gatherings are the house of God, Bethel, the gate of Heaven.

 And for our gatherings to be such a thing, we need to do only two things on our part.

We drink in.

We pour out.

We drink in, we pour out.

That’s what Jacob did. He drank in, poured out. He drank in the words that the Lord gave him in his vision. Then immediately he begins to pour himself out, starting with the oil he pours on the rock.

That’s what Mary did. She drank in, poured out. She drinks in these words that Jesus speaks and she takes them as treasure. Other people are walking through the house and fussing and fuming, and they don’t even know they’re missing priceless treasure that could change their lives. But here’s this woman drinking it in. And then she pours out, keeps pouring it out. Pours out the ointment, the nard, anoints his feet, wipes them with her hair, fills the house with the fragrance.

And that’s all we have to do ….drink in and pour out.

First, we need to drink in. God help us to do what Jacob did, to do what Mary did. 

We need to drink in and to listen carefully. Listen.

Nothing, nothing is more important in any of our lives than to hear what the Lord is trying to tell us, than to receive the word the Lord is giving us.

We need to settle down, simplify, listen, concentrate. 

We need to ask ourselves, “Am I listening to what he is saying to me?  Or am I distracted?  Am I so distracted by my own anger, or my own vanity, or my own fears, or my own greed, or my own insistence that I’m right…. that I cannot hear what he’s trying to tell me?”

We need to listen to what he’s trying to tell us,

“Martha, Martha you’re anxious and troubled about many things”.

And here’s this woman trying to do her best in a way, but it wasn’t her best. She says it’s her best, but God says something else is her best. There she is running around the kitchen, anxious and troubled about many things. That’s what he’s saying to us, “One thing is needful, get the word I’m giving to you, drop everything, let them starve, give them peanut butter sandwiches. It doesn’t make any difference. Take in this word, listen; ‘One thing is needful. Mary has chosen the good part, which will not be taken away from her.’ And if you choose the word that I’m giving you, it won’t be taken from you either. It will never be stolen.” 

And secondly we need to pour out.

We need to pour out.

We need to take the oil like Jacob did, and pour it on the rock.

We need to take the best that we have, the pure nard that Mary has and put it on his feet.

We need to offer up our bodies as a living sacrifice.

We need to present to him the very best that we have.

We need to ask ourselves; “Am I giving him the best that I have?” Am I really?

“Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs”.

John 21:15

 And give it your best. 

A pure heart, a whole heart offered up to him.

When we take the pure nard, the treasure, the best that we have, and we break that open and we start anointing the feet of the Lord with that; Wherever we are is filled with the fragrance of the offering, the fragrance, which is the presence of God. The fragrance that draws the Jacobs from all over the place so that they can find God, brings the Marthas from all over the place so they can find peace, and the fragrance that raises Lazarus’s from the dead.

And wherever we are will be the house of God, the gate of Heaven….

.… if we will we sit at those feet and listen 

….and then anoint those feet with the best that we have.

Prayer: Lord, help us to see the gate of Heaven, the wonder of your very presence in our lives. May we know that we are living under your holy eye, that you are always with us, and that we have a purpose on this earth to be the Bethel which brings your very presence to others, where others encounter the holy. Lord, help us to quiet down, settle down, draw near, and listen so we can adoringly drink in your wonderful presence. And as we abandon ourselves to you, as we anoint your feet with our love and adoration, may such a fragrance rise up and fill the atmosphere that no matter where we are…our homes…our churches…our cars…our phones…standing in lines…that we are pouring out your heavenly love….that we are the Bethels that draw others to your presence…to the very gate of Heaven. Amen.
Maranatha Mirror
Message: 1986  Edited by Maranatha Mirror   Shareable/Printable Copy
Featured Artists: Courtesy and permission of  Thelma Mudugu at   and  Jacob worshipping God image via Good Salt license.

 Posted May 12, 2023


Let’s suppose you had an Uncle George who just died and a brother named Bill. Uncle George had an estate of $600,000.00. He willed it to you and your brother to be divided equally. But he made one mistake. He appointed Bill as executor of his will. So when Uncle George died, Bill got busy settling the estate. He settled it all right. Settled it all on himself. He hired a crafty lawyer who, for a fat fee, showed him how to funnel it all into his own pocket, except for the lawyer’s fee and a puny $500.00 for you.

 “Come on, Bill,” you say to your brother, “you know that half Uncle George’s estate belongs to me.” “That’s your opinion”, says Bill, “I know that George intended that I should have it all. He just didn’t get around to changing his will. So I worked things out. And I did it within the law. Even if you take me to court, you’ll never win. Be thankful for your $500.00.”

Now it just so happens that you and your brother belong to the same church. And you’re saying to yourself, “If Bill is the big Christian everybody thinks he is, how can he do this?” You go to the preacher and explain what’s going on. “How about meeting with the two of us and helping us to sort it out?” But your brother is a heavy giver and the preacher doesn’t want to offend any goose in his flock that lays golden eggs.

 You’re upset.Who wouldn’t be upset, to be cheated out of more than a quarter of a million? It’s not right and it’s not fair. The whole mess is keeping you awake at night. The preacher won’t do anything for you.

So you decide to take the whole thing straight to the Lord.

“Lord, you know that Uncle George meant for me to have half of that money. But my greedy brother wrangled it all for himself”. You pray, but you don’t seem to be getting any peace. “Lord, fair is fair. You know my brother is cheating me. I could use that money more than he could. He already has plenty.”

 Still no peace.

Not only that, your crafty brother has just made a big gift to the organ fund at the church and everybody’s talking about what a wonderful Christian he is. “Wonderful Christian my foot! He’s a hypocrite! Come on, Lord! Do something! This isn’t right! $300,000.00. What I couldn’t do with $300,000.00! And Bill sits up there in the front pew like a saint!”

 Still no peace….. No answer from the Lord.,

What’s going on?

So you decide to play a little Bible Roulette. You know. You shut your eyes, flip the Bible open, put your finger on a page – and hope for guidance. Now I’m not so sure God ever ordained Bible Roulette as a form of guidance and most people who try it cheat a little. They keep flipping and pointing until they come up with something good and then they call it divine guidance.

 But God does work in mysterious ways. And sometimes he corners us even when we try to manipulate him into the guidance we want. “So, here it goes.” Down comes your finger. You open your eyes, and wouldn’t you know? Your finger is glued to Luke 12:13

One of the multitude said to him, “Teacher, bid my brother divide the inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or divider over you?” And he said to them, “Take heed, and beware of all covetousness; for a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. (Luke 12:13-15)

“Who made me judge or divider over you?” Jesus refuses to let himself be used in this way. “Yes, your brother is a cheat. But something is happening to you in this business that is going to rob you of more than $300,000.00”

There are two ways to be rich.

 You can be rich toward man


you can be rich toward God.

 When you’re rich toward man, it means you have  a lot of stuff, a lot of money, a lot of power.

But if you’re only rich toward man, all that stuff that you have, and all that money, and all that power, still leaves you with an empty soul.

On the other hand, when you’re rich toward God,  it means that your soul is full, your spirit is alive, because your heart has found its focus.

Not in what you possess, but in who you know.

 Who you know not being celebrities, the wealthy, the accomplished, the respected….  

 …. but the God of the Universe.

 If you know God, you’re rich.

 If you don’t know God, you may own half of the world and still have an empty soul.

When you’re rich toward God, money and things can come or they can go. They are important, but they are not your life. Your life is God.

 When you’re rich toward God, and you have money; you know God put that money into your hands for reasons he will make clear.

 It came from him.

It belongs to him.

You answer to him.

 When you’re rich toward God, and you have no money; you still know that God will provide for you as you seek his kingdom first.

 When you’re rich toward God, and your brother cheats you out of half the estate, you’re still better off in your own shoes than in his.

 And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man brought forth plentifully; and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns, and build larger ones; and there I will store all my grain and my  goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; take your ease, eat, drink, and be merry.’ But God said to  him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you; and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ ”    (Luke 12:16-20)

So, how do you get to be rich toward God?

   By putting God first in your life.

    And getting rid of everything that gets in the way of putting God first.

If money is getting in the way, get rid of it,

If some habit is getting in the way, change it.

If some secret lust or some weird ambition is getting in the way, repent of it, die to it.

 “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give alms; provide yourselves with purses that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”       (Luke 12:32-34)

Does that mean I’m supposed to sell my house, get rid of my cars, and empty out my bank account? It means that God wants to make me a spiritual millionaire, not after I die, but now. Lavish upon me the riches of heaven now and anything in my life that stands in the way of my enjoying God’s gift is not worth having.

 Anything that lures my heart away from God’s riches, is a liability.

Get rid of it

“The treasure in the heavens that doesn’t fail” is not some gold waiting for me in heaven when I die.

 That treasure in the heavens is mine now.

No thief can take it.

No rust can destroy it.

No cunning brother can touch it.

It’s the power and the wisdom and the joy of God’s Spirit making me a million times richer than the wealthiest human, enabling me to give away far more than the most generous philanthropist ever dreamed of giving.

 All I have to do, All you have to do…Is open our hearts and receive this heavenly treasure into the earthen vessels of our bodies.

 Let God give us His Kingdom,  His Spirit afresh today.

 And then get rid of anything in our lives that competes with this treasure and we will be numbered among the richest people of this earth.

 “Fear not, little flock, for it is the Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”

 Your Father wants to make you really, really rich.

   Delights to give you ….

His power,              

His glory,               

His life,                  

His joy,

 Everything He has – “all that is mine is yours”.

Get rid of the clutter so you can have this.

Get rid of anything that steals your heart from God.

 “Sell your possessions and give alms; provide yourselves with purses that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”    (Luke 12:33-34)

We’re not talking about “pie in the sky by and by” when you die.

We’re talking about pie a la mode. Sitting in front of us right now.

Clear away the peanut shells so you can have the pie.

God will show us how this applies in each of our lives and He will help us make whatever changes we have to make so that our hearts are fixed on the true treasure instead of the peanut shells.

Prayer: Yes Lord, fix our hearts on the true treasure. Help us to know you, the God of the Universe…You who was, is, and will ever be…and who lovingly, mercifully cares for us and offers us such treasures. Help us to open our hearts to all you have for us. Help us to stop grasping for, and clinging to worldly riches and recognition. Help us not to be lured away from you by these things and yes, help us to get rid of them. Bring us to the point where we truly are rich, really rich with what you have for us now.…your presence, your power, your glory, your life and your joy. Amen.
Maranatha Mirror
Message: 2001  Edited by Maranatha Mirror   Shareable/Printable Copy
Featured Artists: Courtesy and permission of Jen Norton at… …Other pieces by Eugene Bernand and James Tissot are in the public domain

 Posted May 5, 2023

Volunteers or a Living Call?

Think about the meaning of the word “church”.

          Are you going to church today?”

“What time is church?”

         “What kind of church do you belong to?”

         “You mean you still go to church?

In our culture the word church means a volunteer organization of people who believe in Jesus Christ to a greater or lesser degree.

They have a preacher or a priest.

They sing.

They worship.

They get together and eat.

Maybe they reach out into the community with acts of mercy. 

But apart from the preacher who gets paid and perhaps a small staff, it’s all volunteer — meaning you’re free to come when you want to and go when you want to.

Nobody can make you go to church.

Nobody can make you tithe your income.

Nobody can make you serve.

And if the preacher gets too high-handed, and starts putting pressure on you to do this or that, all you have to do is quit and go somewhere else. It’s all volunteer.

It’s a concept that everyone seems to accept these days whether you’re inside the church or outside looking in.  But this vision of the church is totally foreign to what the word “church” means in the Bible.

  When Jesus says, “On this rock I will build my church”,

  Or when Paul says, “To the church of God in Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus”

They’re not talking about a bunch of people who volunteered.

In the real church — God’s church…. 

….there are no volunteers.

In Christ’s church you don’t volunteer to be a member and you don’t volunteer to serve.

You are a member and you serve, because you were called into this thing by God.

God put his hand on you and said,

 “You’re mine, and these people are your family for now. 

Get in there and serve with them.” 

Or as Jesus puts it:

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear much fruit and that your fruit should abide; so whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. This I command you, to love one another.”  (John 15:16-17) 

That’s the church.

Now, if you’ve been chosen and ordained by Christ himself, it’s not as easy to back out when things don’t suit or when your feelings get hurt. And if the King commands us to love one another, what choice do we have?

Andrew and Peter didn’t know it yet, but that day when Andrew brought Peter to meet Jesus they were walking right into a trap. “So you’re Simon, the son of John, I’m going to call you the Rock”, says Jesus. It was days, maybe weeks before they realized it, but Jesus put his call on those men that day. Their lives were not their own any more.

Paul didn’t believe in a volunteer church either. Listen again to how he starts out his letter to the Corinthians:

 “Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes, to the church of God which is at Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus,  called to be saints together with all those who in every  place who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,  both their Lord and ours…”    (1 Corinthians 1:1-2)

Paul didn’t volunteer to be a part of the Body of Christ. He was yanked into it. And those Corinthian believers, every one of them was called into it by the Spirit of God.

Here’s the point –

As long as any church thinks of itself and functions as a church of volunteers, it’s not going to go very far. Even if it grows in numbers, as long as we’re a bunch of volunteers, the Spirit of God has very little to work with. Before the Spirit of God can move with power, we have to see ourselves as a church on God’s terms. To be the kind of church Jesus means when he says,  “On this rock I will build my church”…A change has to take place both in our personal faith and in our life together as a body of believers. 

So that in our personal faith we are no longer volunteers for God but people who are living under a call from God. 

We didn’t choose Jesus to be Lord. He chose us to be his disciples.

 And in our life together we have to see that we have come into the flock…

Not because we chose to come together

But because God chose to put us together. 

We have to see this thing as a work of God that we’ve been called to fit into.

 Not only that.  Each one of us here has been called into a ministry.

You’re not a volunteer.

You’re a minister called by God.

You were brought here to be given strength for your ministry. 

And your ministry and my ministry takes place, not in church, but out there.

In church.…

We get renewed and empowered as we worship together, and pray together, and break bread together.

Out there….

We bring the power of Christ to bear on hurting lives.

We speak words of life from the mouth of God.

We bring back the lost.

We bind up the wounded ones.

We pray.

And we do these things not for pay or for ego satisfaction, But simply because this is our calling, our vocation. 

Sometimes when you’re at the supermarket you push the cart around and pick up what you need and you don’t see a soul you know. Fine, get your groceries and go home. But sometimes you see someone who wants to talk. Sometimes a perfect stranger asks you where the “Jell-o” is, you tell them aisle 6 and silently pray a blessing over them after they head for aisle 6.

 It’s a ministry that goes on all the time….

in the neighborhood,

at work.

in Tim Horton’s,

at your kitchen table.

You’re God’s servant.

You’re under a call.

The concept of “a call” has commonly been reserved for preachers and missionaries.

“Frank was called to the ministry.” 

“After seven years of fighting it, Michael gave in to the call. He’s entering the priesthood.”

Whereas the only significant call that Frank got or Michael got was the call to follow Jesus and fit into his body on earth. Without that, “the ministry” or “the priesthood” is just another man-made career.

Of course, most of us start out as volunteers. Whether we volunteered to go to church or go to seminary. But there comes a point where our volunteer days come to an end.

We discover we have nothing to volunteer.

We’ve been taken over by the call of God.

When Peter came with Andrew that day to meet Jesus he thought he was volunteering to go along, “Yeah, I’ll come and get to meet the guy.  I’ll look him over and decide whether I want to find out more.”

But from the moment he met Jesus, Peter was no longer a volunteer. It took him a while to figure it out — but he didn’t belong to himself anymore.

And most of us didn’t hear a voice in the middle of the night saying, “I’m Jesus, follow me.” We didn’t meet an angel downtown, “Go over there to Grace Church.”

We began as volunteers — we chose to come.

But then one day we woke up and realized that God had been at work in this process all along. This was his idea not ours.  It begins to dawn on us as it dawned on Peter that we walked into a trap. And Jesus says to us,

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear much fruit and that your fruit should abide; so whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. This I command you, to love one another.” 

The church is not Lutheran, or Baptist, or Catholic, or Pentecostal.

 And it’s not volunteer.

 It’s followers of Jesus who know they have been called. 

Their lives belong no longer to themselves, but to him.

They’re out there serving.

They’re out there praising God

They know that Jesus’ command to love one another is not an option but a command.

God help us to see the difference between a church of volunteers ….

 ….and a church of the called.

 God help us to be clear about who we are under his call and where we fit.

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear much fruit and that your fruit should abide; so whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. This I command you, to love one another.”  

Prayer: Yes Lord, help us to know with everything we have that you have called us. That we aren’t just volunteers, church goers, and do-gooders. Help us to hear your sacred call, to be your devoted servants, to rise up to the appointment you have given us to bring your redemption to the hurting lives around us, to bring them healing, to love them and to love one another. Oh may we wake each morning knowing we belong to you and are ready to heed your calling in whatever form it takes. Amen. Maranatha Mirror
Message: 2002 Originally “Who Says You’re A Volunteer”. Edited by Maranatha Mirror
Shareable/Printable Copy 
Featured Art: Ally Barret © Ally Barrett (www.reverendally. org) and used by permission. Most pieces are untitled.

 Posted April 28, 2023


A stranger comes to your fellowship trying to find out whether Jesus Christ actually exists.

”I’ve heard about Jesus Christ, and I’ve read about him, but I want to find out whether he is real. So I’ve come to you folks who claim to know him.”

He sits and listens to us sing our praises to Christ.

“That’s very nice,” he says to himself, “but how do these people know that they’re not imagining these things?”

He hears us pray in the name of Jesus. “What a wonderful thing!—if it’s true,” he sighs.

The teaching describes to him what Jesus Christ will do. And again he is moved. “But how can I be sure that all these things are really so?”

There is only one thing that will prove to this stranger or anybody that Jesus Christ really exists. 

It is not the way we pray — it is not the way we sing — it is not the way we preach.


Suppose somebody came up to you and said, “I’ve got a big brother who’s a giant twelve feet tall. My big brother can pull up trees by the roots. He can hold an automobile in one hand.” Would you believe this person if he himself were only four feet tall? But if this enthusiastic stranger were himself eight feet tall, then you’d say, “Show me your brother!”

The only way you can prove to anybody that you are the little brother, the follower, the disciple of Jesus, the Messiah…. 

…. is to carry his nature, to live the way he does.

The reason Christianity has so little authority in the world these days is because in too many places Christianity is nothing but talk.

– They talk brotherly love … but to taste some of their brotherly love, you’ve got to belong to the right social level, have the right income, and the right shade of skin.

– They talk faith…”Faith will do anything”…. but their lives are saturated with worry. They worry about losing their job, getting sick, about the impression they’re making in the eyes of other people.

– They talk forgiveness … but their churches are torn by strife, envy, jealousy, resentment.

People out in the world are sick and tired of religious talk. 

They want to see the real thing.

– They want to see evidence of the nature of Jesus Christ in you.

– They want to see brotherly love in your living.

– They want to see your faith in action.

– They want to see a forgiving heart.

I don’t care when you say you were saved.

I don’t care how many visions you’ve had or how many times God has spoken to you …

…. They won’t believe your testimony until you live like Jesus Christ.

Martin Luther says that when a man or woman becomes a follower of Jesus, that person is a ”little Christ” … a miniature of his Master. 

They may not be perfect as the Lord, but they bear a family likeness. There is something about them that tells you that they are really related to Jesus Christ.

Now the secret of becoming a “little Christ” is wrapped up in a single word:


“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”  (John 13:35)

“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.”    (1 John 3:16)

”Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”    (1 John 4:7-8)

“Isn’t it enough that I’m living a moral life?”

– The person who is looking for Jesus Christ doesn’t have to come among us to find people who live moral lives. There are thousands of people outside the Body who are living moral lives.

“Isn’t it enough that I give to charity and help in the community?”

– Fine! But this doesn’t prove to the stranger that Jesus Christ is alive. Thousands outside the Body give to charity and help in the community.

“How about the fact that I read my Bible and say my prayers?”

– Keep it up! But remember that there are thousands of people who read their Bible and say their prayers but fail to manifest the life of Jesus Christ.

Here’s the question, and we must be very honest:

Can someone who is looking for Jesus Christ find that love in our fellowships?

The love of Jesus Christ is different from natural human love in three ways:

  1. It is a love that goes out of its way and never looks for something in return.
  2. It is a love that is sensitive to the broken-hearted.
  3. It is a love that thrives on the impossible.


It is a love that goes out of its way and looks for nothing in return.

The Samaritan was on his way to Jericho. He was trying to get there early so he could sell his wares in the market. He had a family to support and obligations to meet. But when he sees this wounded Jew by the side of the road, he changes his plans completely. He forgets about all the things he had planned to do and devotes himself entirely to this half-dead soul. Not only does the Samaritan lose a night’s sleep and a day’s work, he reaches into his pocket and pays the bill for the afflicted man who belongs to a race that despises Samaritans.

Notice, too, that when the Samaritan goes on his way, he doesn’t leave a note saying, ”Here’s where I live. When you get well, if you want to reward me just send it here.” ….”Here’s my phone number. Some day you can do something for me.” When the wounded man woke up, he didn’t even know who saved his life. And it didn’t matter.

– That’s the kind of love that Jesus Christ has for us.

We’ll go out of our way too if it looks like there may be a reward, or if he may be in a position to pay me back some day, or at least if he’ll show some appreciation. Oh but how difficult to go out of your way to help a person who won’t even say, ”Thank you.” 

Yet this is the love that will convict hearts and reveal Jesus as Lord..

It is a love that is sensitive to the broken-hearted.

Every day of your life is like a trip on the freeway. There are hundreds of cars ahead of you and behind you moving along at maximum speed. Every so often you see a car by the side of the road, disabled, left behind. Who cares?

On the freeway it may not be legal to stop every time you see a stalled vehicle. But in life, this is exactly what we are commanded to do. We are to turn aside from our own way and minister to the broken-hearted consistently.

“I have come to heal the broken-hearted,” said our Lord at the outset of his ministry.

This is what he did. And if we are his disciples, we will do the same.

That lady down the street from where you live whom nobody likes. She walks to the grocery store with her nose in the air and people say she’s a snob. But if you have the love of Jesus Christ in you, you will immediately recognize that beneath her aloof exterior she is hiding a broken heart. 

– You will not despise her.

There’s a man where you work who’s forever bragging. Nobody likes him. If you have the love of Jesus in you, you will recognize that his bragging is simply a means of concealing a broken heart….

– And your attitude will be different.

There’s a kid at school who’s really weird. Everybody laughs. If you have the love of Christ in you, You will weep with him in your heart because you know the anguish that he experiences behind that expressionless face.

– You will not laugh. You will weep with him.

It is a love that thrives on the impossible.

Notice how often the word “compassion” in the Bible is connected with an impossible situation.

“I have compassion on the multitude because they have now been with me three days and have nothing to eat.”

What’s the sense of having compassion when the people are hungry? 

What can you do for them? 

.Then he takes five loaves and two fish.

A woman is bringing the corpse of her only son to burial and she is weeping. Jesus had compassion on her and went to her and said, “Weep not.” What good is compassion in a situation like this? Young man, I say to you, arise!

A leper cries to Jesus, “if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean.” And Jesus, moved with compassion, reaches out and touches him“I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” And the man is healed.

When we are faced with an impossible situation…..

…. We ”conserve” our love, we hold it back. 

  Why waste it? 

  That guy’s hopeless! 

  She’ll never change! 

  He’s too far gone!

The love of Jesus Christ is at its best when things look impossible. 

The more hopeless a person appears, the more you love him.

Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. …..

 Let your love be genuine…..

Let your love be like Christ’s.”

—Let it!

You don’t have to make it … just let your love be like your Lord’s.  Your love will be like his, if you want it to be, because Jesus Christ is alive and at work in you.

And he is in our midst, as we serve together in his name.

– To help us to think like he thinks. 

– To form us into his very likeness.

– To send us back into the world as “little Christs.”

Tell him in your heart right now that you want to be transformed into his likeness.

“Lord, I confess to you that I have been calculating and cold in my love. I’ve been selfish.  I’ve held my love back from others. I’ve given it only to certain select people. But I want to be like you. I want to be able to go out of my way and look for nothing in return, to be conscious of the brokenhearted people I brush by every day. And to be able to love those who seem so helpless to me.”

If you are willing to let his compassion rule your heart, the Spirit of the living Jesus, who loved you and gave himself for you, will transform you indeed into a “little Christ.” Your heart will burn with a love which does not come from you. 

And people simply by dealing with you in daily life, will know that Jesus Christ is real, and that he is alive in you.

Message: Richard Bieber 2015  Shareable/Printable Copy 
Featured Art: Courtesy and Kindness of Rex Deloney  at

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