• What the Church Doesn't Teach You

    A Father’s Love – How God Loves Us

    Share and Encourage Others

    By Madeline Kalu

    5 min read

    This week, my stepson F*  was visiting us in Germany from the UK. He is originally from Kyiv, Ukraine. By God’s grace, he and his mum were able to escape the Ukraine war when it broke out last year and find asylum in England. 

    Factors such as the war have kept my husband Solomon and F from spending quality time together over the last few years. In fact, the last time we saw F was when we went to visit him in Kyiv in 2016. A lot can change in 7 years, especially in a young man’s life. This week, Solomon was eager to spend time with the boy that he knew, and was looking forward to getting to know the man that F has become.

    However, despite the changes and upheaval that have occured in F’s life, it was immediately apparent during his visit that one thing has remained constant – the love that his dad has for him.

    I was blessed to witness a demonstration of this love when we went to church last Sunday. We attend a church that consists of a large contingent of Russian immigrants. For that reason, Russian translation through headphones is made available in the gallery section of the church. 

    When we went upstairs to procure some headphones for F, we discovered to our dismay that they had already been distributed. Solomon immediately started looking for someone from the church to help us attain a pair. When a lady in the service team kindly went in search of an extra set, l sat next to the exit in order to liaise with her and not disrupt the other congregants. 

    While l waited, l observed from my vantage point how Solomon put his arm on the back of F’s chair in a gesture of protection. My husband, who is generally very (very) chilled, was suddenly transformed into a concerned father whose sole priority was to ensure that his son received the same opportunity as everyone else in the room to hear and understand the Word.  In fact, the entire time we were waiting for news on the headphone situation, Solomon regularly turned around in his seat, which was in front of me, to ask for updates and an ETA on the headphones. He also asked his neighbors in Russian if they had some spare headphones lying around. Even the Russian translator was questioned mid-translation. No stone was left unturned in my husband’s quest.

    It was only when a pair of headphones had finally been found, and Solomon had tested them and handed them over to F, could he finally relax and fully focus his attention on the church service. 

    In the same way that a human father loves his child, so too, does God love and recognize us as His children when we accept His free gift of Salvation.

    “Yet to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”

    John 1:12-13

    This divine adoption is a covenant between God and us. It is a declaration that God will always love us, no matter how sordid our past was, how messed up our present situation is, or how many bad decisions we will make in future. It is a promise to protect us from outside dangers and even ourselves if need be, and that He will turn all that comes against us to our good, for His glory. It is an assurance of His justness and mercy towards us, especially when we don’t deserve it. It is an open invitation to seek Him when we need comfort and to rest in the secret place of His presence when the pressures of the world threaten to break us. And last but not least, it is a request to trust He is making a way for us, even when we don’t see it or believe it’s possible.

    The world falsely depicts God as wrathful, judgemental, and distant. However, those who have a relationship with Him know God for who He truly is – a Father.

    After a week of sightseeing, eating glorious food, copious amounts of laughter and many insightful conversations, F is now back in the UK. However, the fact that he has gone from being under our roof to living 1000’s of km away has changed neither the intensity nor the purpose of Solomon’s love for his son. A father’s love is not constricted by the accumulation of his children’s birthdays, the physical distance they create when they go out and discover the world, nor their transition from children into adults.

    A father’s love is forever. 

    Our Father’s love is forever.

    If you have never known your mortal father’s love,  be comforted that God is wanting to be your Father. He will adopt you and take you in as His own (Psalm 27:10). To  do so, all you have to do is enter into a relationship with Him by accepting His gift of Salvation. To do so, you can pray the following Salvation Prayer out loud over yourself.   

    If you know God, yet feel like He couldn’t love you in your current state, please know that there is nothing so bad, or no situation so dire that could stop God from loving you. He wants to meet you in the deepest depths of your darkest places and touch your heart with His comforting grace and love, if only you will let Him in (Psalm 40:1-3). If we wander from His love and protection, He sets out to win us back and return us to the fold (Luke 15:1-7). 

    Nothing can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:38-39).

    And l mean nothing.

    We need to talk more about God’s love for us as a Father, not only in church, but also in the world. If people were to know God for who He truly is, and not rashly assume Him to be some distant, judgemental, fictional character sitting on a throne in the heavenly clouds, how many minds will be blessed by the Truth, how many hearts will receive the fatherly comfort they need, and how many more souls will be set free from the damage that is caused by the constraints of human love?

    We would be raising up a body of believers who are confident in who they are and whose they are. Instead of parrying and dodging the blows that life throws at us with the mindset of a victim, we will instead walk confidently as victors, firm in the knowledge that we are loved by an almighty and merciful God. For when God is for us, who can be against us?

    It’s definitely something to think about.

    F* – Although my stepson is of legal age, l still wish to protect his privacy by not revealing his name.

    Would you like to know more about God’s fatherly love?

    Then read our book review “The Shack” by Wm. Paul Young, and afterwards, read the book. It poignantly depicts the fatherly love that God has for us. The author is also incredibly nice!

    Madeline Kalu is a Christian writer and the co-founder of Jacob’s Ladder Blog. She was born in England, was raised in Australia, and currently lives in Germany with her husband Solomon. Madeline is in recovery from burnout, chronic depression, and anxiety. She believes that God can take life’s adversities and work them out for His good; hence, she uses her writing voice to raise awareness of mental illness, as well as to spread the light of God’s love to those who are mentally trapped in the dark, and provide them with hope and encouragement.


    Share and Encourage Others
  • What the Church Doesn't Teach You

    What is Salvation and Do l Need it?

    Share and Encourage Others

    By Madeline Kalu

    15 min read

    Did you know that Christianity is the most widely practiced religion in the world? Across the globe, there are over 2 billion people who identify themselves as Christians.

    So, what is the definition of a Christian? 

    There are some who only go to Church at Easter and Christmas, and yet if you ask them, they claim to be Christians. Then there are those who do go to church religiously (pun intended) every Sunday. However, their concept of Christianity is based on performing weekly lip service and long-standing and dare l say, archaic rituals established by their particular ecclesiastical institution. Can these people be defined as Christians?

    And what about those, who, when filling out forms, tick the “Christian” box under the category “Religion”, because they think that maybe God exists and are therefore unwilling to tick the “Atheist” box? 

    Are these people and others making up the aforementioned 2 billion+ defenders of the Christian faith?

    Let me clear something up from the offset:

    A Christian is not religious. 

    What, you’re thinking? Of course, they’re religious! After all, Christianity is a religion, just like Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, and other religions! 

    And it is – from a worldly point of view. Christianity is categorized under “religion” because it shares a commonality with other world religions in that one or several divine deities are worshiped. 

    However, as Christians, we differ greatly from believers of other faiths. 

    How? 

    We have a Savior called Jesus Christ who took on human form and died on a Cross on a hill in Jerusalem called Calvary. He did this to save us from eternal death as a result of our sins. In acknowledgment of His sacrifice and the admittance that we cannot save ourselves from our own sinful nature, we accept Jesus’ gift of Salvation. Consequently, we are born again as new creations, freed from the bondage of sin to live in eternal righteousness with God, Jesus’ Father, who is our Lord of Lords, our King of Kings, and our Creator. 

    Therefore, to define what a Christian is – we have a relationship with Jesus Christ. 

    So, what is Salvation? Do l need to get saved? And if so, how do l go about it?

    Let’s delve deeper.

    The Definition of Salvation

    Many of us know that the word “salvation” means to be saved or “salvaged”. This implies that in order to be saved,  a danger must be evident from which we need to be rescued. Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines “salvation” as “preservation from destruction or failure, deliverance from danger or difficulty.” 

    In Christianity, this definition of salvation is solidified through the Hebrew word yasa, which means “to be liberated, saved, delivered, be victorious”. It entails both a physical and a spiritual deliverance.

    However, what are Christians being liberated from and how does it make us victorious? 

    Well, we’re being saved from ourselves. 

    You see, we as humans are sinful. We were born in sin and we continue to commit sinful acts throughout our whole lives. It all started in the Book of Genesis when Satan approached Eve in serpent form. He tricked Eve into taking the forbidden fruit from the Tree of Life, which she then gave to Adam to share. From that moment on, Adam and Eve had obtained knowledge they weren’t ready to receive and they had broken God’s one rule – to not touch the forbidden fruit. Thus, they had exposed themselves to God’s wrath.

    This Fall resulted in creating a cleft between God and humans, a spiritual divide if you will, for God cannot bear to be in the presence of sin. Consequently, we were destined to spend eternity in hell after death as a consequence of our sinful trespasses. 

    However, God loved us too much to let us fall prey to Satan and his schemes (John 3:16 NIV). He had made us in His image when He created the earth and wanted us to abide with and in Him.

    A blood sacrifice was the ransom price required to pay for our eternal freedom and to bring us back into a relationship with our Creator. Therefore God sent His son Jesus Christ as His sacrificial lamb to pay that price with His blood, which He shed on the Cross.

    “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’”

    John 1:29

    This doesn’t mean that we stop committing sins once we are saved. After all, we remain human after receiving Salvation, and we humans are prone to making mistakes again and again, right? The difference is that through Salvation, God forgives us for the sins that we committed in the past, that we commit today, and that we will unknowingly commit in the future. Our Salvation is always ongoing.  What an awesome God we have!

    What’s important to consider with Salvation is not only what we are being saved from, but also what we are being saved to. Let’s look into this.

    The Gifts of Salvation

    We are saved to many things when we give our lives to Christ.  I wish l could mention more in this article, but here are a few of them:

    1. We become new creations in Christ

    Accepting God’s gift of Salvation means we get a second start in life. We are forgiven and cleansed of our sins, which belong to the “old” us: In fact, God doesn’t remember them anymore.  We become a new creation spiritually, which also manifests itself physically. People will immediately notice the difference!

    “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”

    2 Corinthians 5:17

    Hello to the 2.0 version of you!

    2. We become God’s Children

    You may have heard Christians refer to the Lord as “Father God”. In fact, “Father” or abba in Hebrew is one of the many names that God is known by. 

    When you get saved, the Lord becomes your spiritual father (1 Corinthians 4:15). And just like a father cares for his child, God loves you unconditionally, provides for you, protects you, and fights for you.

    “‘Abba, Father,’ Jesus said, ‘everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.’”

    Mark 14:36

    And as a bonus, your fellow Christians become your spiritual brothers and sisters.

    Welcome to the family!

    3. We are transferred from the  realm of Darkness into the realm of God’s Light

    The realm of spiritual darkness is Satan’s domain, which is hell. Jesus came as the Light of the World to rescue us from eternal life in hell and bring us to His Father’s Kingdom of Light  (Colossians 1:13).

    John 8:12 confirms this:

     “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

    John 8:12

    4. We are declared as justified by God

    Through the transference from the kingdom of Darkness to God’s kingdom of Light, the stain of sin is removed from us and we are made righteous in the sight of God.

    God pronounces us as such, which is called “justification”. It is His declaration to all, including Satan, that we are redeemed, forgiven, and cleansed of our sins. We are no longer to be defined by what we did in the past, but we are to be recognized by our new selves.

    “Since we have now been justified by His blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through Him!”

    Romans 5:9

    5. We become co-heirs with Jesus Christ

    Just as a father passes on his legacy to his children, so too, do we inherit all that God owns – which is the universe and everything in it – with Jesus, who is our co-heir. In fact, God promises us that we will one day rule the earth alongside Jesus. 

    Did you know that the streets in Heaven are paved in gold (Revelation 21:21)? If the streets in the heavenly realm are that valuable, how much more impactful is your inheritance on earth?

    “Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory.”

    Romans 8:17

    6. The Holy Spirit comes to dwell inside us

    The moment we get saved, the Holy Spirit indwells us. He is our divine seal, which claims us as being God’s people (Ephesians 1:13-14).

    Our bodies become the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19-20); therefore, we need to look after our physical and mental well-being and not commit acts that will offend Him, for we have been bought with a price. These include not taking harmful substances (Ephesians 5:18), not committing acts of sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 6:18-20), and not using our words to deceive people or bring them down (Ephesians 4:29).

    Having the Holy Spirit dwell in us is a truly life-changing experience, for He takes on multiple roles to guide and strengthen us in our walk. His many names reflect these roles: Comforter (John 14:16 AMPC), Counsellor (Isaiah 11:2), Teacher (1 Corinthians 2:12-16), Empowerer (Acts 1:8), Convictor of Sin (John 16:8-9), Guider of Truth (John 16:13, Intercessor (Romans 8:26)), Author of Scripture (2 Peter 1:21), Spirit of Life (Romans 8:2), and more. Additionally, the Holy Spirit gives us the Fruits of the Spirit in seed form, which include love, peace, and self-control  (Galatians 5:22-23). 

    7. We become ambassadors of Christ in the world

    God loves to partner with us. The Bible is full of accounts of men and women, who represented God and shared the Good News of the Gospel with others. 

    “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us.”

    2 Corinthians 5:20

    8. Our Salvation is Permanent

    Once we are saved, we are saved for eternity. There is nothing so bad that we can do that can reverse it. 

    “That everyone who believes may have eternal life in Him.”

    John 3:15

    Now, this doesn’t mean that we can run around and cause havoc for laughs and giggles: Even believers in Christ have to face the consequences of their behavior if they act against the will of God. But it does mean that when we do muck up (which we inevitably do, remember we’re human), we can go to our Father and repent in the knowledge that He will always forgive us.

    I’m a Good Person, l Don’t Need Salvation

    Let me start by saying that l respectfully don’t know what standard you’re measuring your propensity for goodness by, but I’m happy for you! 

    The thing is,  even good people make mistakes and do the wrong things. 

    Salvation is not about whether you’re a good person or not. A convicted murderer doing life in prison is just in need of our Savior as a cloistered nun who has merely been going through the religious motions. 

    We all fail and fall short of the glory of God. We all need Salvation.

    And the good thing is, Salvation is available to each and every one of us.

    How Do l Receive Salvation?

    The most important thing to remember is that Salvation is a gift from God. It is given by His grace –  it cannot be earned. 

    The Bible states clearly how we are saved in Ephesians 2:8-9:

    “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”

    Ephesians 2:8-9

    Receiving Salvation is a simple process, but it requires changing the position of your heart. 

    What do l mean by that?

    • Firstly, you need to admit to yourself that you are a sinner and that you are incapable of saving yourself from your sinful existence: You need the love and forgiveness of Jesus, our Savior. This requires humility and taking a look at the man/woman in the mirror.

    “As it is written: ‘There is no one righteous, not even one.’”

    Romans 3:10

    • Believe that hell exists and that Satan is real and rules over it. Without God’s mercy and grace, you only have one life: And when that life is over, there is only one place for you,  and that is the eternal kingdom of Darkness (Sorry, to be direct, but it’s true.) (Luke 16:19-31). 
    • Acknowledge that Jesus is real, and believe by faith, that He died on the Cross of Calvary for your sins, that He rose on the third day, and that He is now seated at the right hand of God, a place of honor. 
    • Repent for your sins by opening your mouth and audibly confessing them. In other words, tell Jesus that you’re sorry for the mistakes and the bad decisions you have made.
    • Declare audibly that Jesus is your Lord and Savior. Ask him to be the Lord of your life and profess by faith that you are saved and that from now on, you will walk with Him and abide by His ways.

    “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.”

    Romans 10:9-10

    If you would like to gain detailed insight into God’s plan of Salvation for us, l suggest you read the Book of Romans, which is also called the “Romans Road to Salvation”.

    Where and When Can l Receive Salvation?

    A lot of people give their lives to Christ at church. Most churches have an altar call, where those who wish to be saved can come to the front. Alternatively, they can raise their hands and the congregation prays for them.

    You can also receive salvation with the help of a born-again Christian leading you in prayer. That’s how l was saved. I even know others, who were alone in their room, when they gave their lives to Christ. 

    As to when you can receive Salvation, well it can happen at any time!

    Storytime: Years ago, a young lady attended a coffee morning that was held at my Christian mentor’s house. She had been invited by a member of the group.

    To say that this lady was skeptical was an understatement. Actually, she laughed outright at me at one point, because l had given a testimony about something miraculous that God had done in my life that week. She whispered to her friend, “That woman is crazy!” She thought that l had not heard her – but l have ears like a lynx, and l heard every word. But l wasn’t offended, just surprised. (I mean, I’ve been called worse.)

    Well, by the time this young lady left, she was crying with joy and dancing out the door, because someone in the group had brought up the discussion topic of Salvation, and the young lady gave her life then and there. I laughed and danced with her, it was such a happy occasion!

    It doesn’t matter where you are, when it is, or who you are with when you receive Salvation. God knows where to find you and He can take you out of the spiritual darkness and into His divine light from one second to the next!

    Do You Wish to Receive God’s Gift of Salvation, today?

    If you want to give your life to Jesus today, that is wonderful news! 

    It’s easier to cover the points l made in the section above by speaking a Salvation Prayer aloud. 

    Here on our blog, we have a Salvation prayer that you can use:

    Lord,

    I recognize that l am a sinner. I have broken Your laws and through my thoughts and actions have separated myself from You. For this l am truly sorry and l humbly ask You for Your forgiveness.

    I believe and confess that Your son, Jesus Christ, died on the cross to pay for my sins and rose from the dead after the third day. I believe that because of His sacrifice, Jesus has cleansed me of my sins and l can be born again, as a brand new creation.

    Lord, I want to turn away from my sinful life. I am unable to help myself – l need You. By Your grace, I wish to live a new life full of Your unfailing love and great compassion. By faith, l gratefully receive Your offer of Salvation. I ask You to enter my heart and be my Lord and Saviour.

    My life is Yours to do as You will. I will trust You and follow You in all Your ways from now on and into eternity.

    Thank you, Lord.
    In Jesus’ name,

    Amen.

    Congratulations! You have given your life to God and are now born again! I embrace you, my new brothers and sisters! A god-filled, rich, and abundant life awaits you!

    What Happens Next?

    In my experience, many churches focus on bringing people to Christ, but only a few consider the after-care that New Believers require. Most times, you get given a Bible and a congratulatory pat on the back, and then you’re sent back out into the big bad world that instigated you to sin and seek God in the first place.

    This just never made sense to me.

    Therefore, it was on my heart to add this section to help New Christians navigate their next steps after receiving Salvation.

    Getting saved is the beginning of a lifelong walk with the Lord, where He will teach you and shape you into the person He purposed you to be before you were even in your mother’s womb (Jeremiah 1:5). 

    Many Christians don’t understand that the process of Salvation is not a one-time “stick-a-fork-in-me-l’m-done” kind of thing. It’s a continual, life process (1 Corinthians 1:18, Philippians 1:6).

    Consider the analogy depicted in Isaiah 64:8: Think of yourself as a lump of clay and God is the Divine Potter, the Master Creator. He places you on His potter’s wheel, and molds and shapes you into a wondrous piece of art, in Christ’s image. Sometimes, He’ll take out bits of clay, other times He will add bits. Sometimes, He will start again and re-mold you according to the different seasons of your life.

    “Yet you, Lord, are our Father.

    We are the clay, you are the potter;

    we are all the work of your hand.”

     Isaiah 64:8

    That’s beautiful imagery, isn’t it? 

    Let’s look at what you need to do after receiving Salvation.

    1. Tell Someone You’ve Been Saved

    Accepting God as your Lord and Savior will be single-handedly the greatest decision you will ever make in your life. All other life paths stem from the choice that you made to be in a relationship with God. This needs to be celebrated with those you know!

    When l got saved, my colleague Alison, who led me in the Salvation prayer said two things to me,

    “Madeline, you’re going to have to start going to church, and you’re going to have to tell someone today, that you have accepted Jesus Christ.”

    I did both and the person l shared the news about my Salvation became my first Christian friend, who helped and guided me in my first steps as a New Christian. Thank you, Heather. Additionally, Alison and her friend Lee became my mentors. I wouldn’t be the Christian l am today without these three ladies.

    So, now that you have been saved, go and tell someone! It can be your mum, your bestie, or even a colleague. Heck, buy a bunch of flowers and go and knock on the door of the nosy neighbor down the road who’s been telling all and sundry for years that nothing will amount to you, and let her know! 

    2. Find a Church

    If you don’t already visit a church, now is the time to start going! Receiving teachings on the Word of God is essential for your Christian walk. 

    There’s no set rule for what constitutes a “good” church. No church is perfect, because the people who attend aren’t perfect either. And that’s ok. We all need the love of our Savior, and we all need guidance and encouragement in this broken world. 

    I suggest you find a church nearby, as not only will it make it easier for you to attend services and events, but you can get to know people who live in your area, whom you can eventually make friends with and meet up with outside of the church. God wants us to be in fellowship with Him and other believers. Together, we can encourage one another, pray, and support each other. The devil wants to isolate us and pick us off – much like a predatory animal targets the weak and slow animals who can’t keep up with the herd. However, together, as one Body of Christ, we are strong in the Lord!

    Not all churches are the same: That being said, pray and ask God for discernment to lead you to a church. The Bible warns us in Matthew 7:15 to be aware of false prophets and those who are sheep in wolve’s clothing. Unfortunately, not every church is dedicated to following the teachings of the Bible, nor are its pastors saved or have vocational callings to lead God’s people. Therefore, do your research – look up the church in question online, and if you see any headlines that involve the church in scandals, show signs of being a cult, or members have made public allegations of inappropriate and even dangerous behavior, then l suggest you keep looking further.

    Of course, we are in no position to judge individuals when they make mistakes, for we make them too. But we do have the right to find a church where we feel comfortable and safe, and can be assured that we will receive instruction and guidance in the Word without a hidden agenda.

    Join a small group: As an extension of church fellowship, join a small group, either in-person or online, which is a Bible study group that many churches offer.

    Try and attend your small group diligently, for regular attendance will increase your faith, fortify your growth, and give you a sense of family. Also ghosting in and out is not only unproductive, it’s disrespectful to those who take the time to organize and lead, as well as the other members of the group who make the effort to commit. If you can’t attend regularly or are having difficulties, let the leaders know and they’ll help you. Fellowship is about communication, so try and stay in contact.

    3. Read the Bible

    This goes without saying: As Christians, we need to read the Bible, which is the divine Word of God. 

    The Bible is like a believer’s handbook: It is a God-breathed instrumental tool, a book of hope and encouragement, and it is a love letter to us from our Creator. It is infallible, meaning it is without error,  and is just as relevant today for believers as it was almost 3500 years ago

    “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.”

    2 Timothy 3:16

    The mistake that many Christians make – both mature and those who are new in the Lord – is that they don’t read their Bible regularly. Some don’t read their Bible at all. They will read Christian articles, look at Christian movies, and marathon-watch sermons on YouTube – and that’s all great, the Word is preached through these mediums. I do this too.

    But nothing – and l mean nothing – can replace the private time that you spend with God by opening His Book and listening for His voice as He guides you through the pages of His Word.

    I’ll say it like it is – if you don’t learn the lessons that the Bible teaches you, if you don’t fortify yourself with the encouragement that God gives you in His Word, if you are unaware of the promises that He has made you which can be found within the pages of His Holy Book, then you will struggle to live in a world, which worships itself, applauds self-entitlement, and perverts the name of the Lord. 

    When troubles hit you, and they inevitably will, you need a firm foundation, a rock on which you can stand, so that you won’t be rattled and tempted to go back to performing the sins you used to make before you knew the Lord. 

    Finally, knowledge of the Word of God will preserve you and give you peace when the world will try and rob you of it.

    Hosea 4:6 says the following: “My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.”

    Bible recommendations: Admittedly, the Bible is not an easy read. But it is an exciting and eye-opening one! Traditionally, people get given or are recommended to read a biblical translation called the King James Version. It’s a great version, but it is full of “thous” and “thees”, as it was written in 1611 when such speech forms were the norm, therefore making it a challenging read. Besides, there’s a whole controversial history behind the translation of that Bible, which involved the murder of its translator William Tyndale, who just wanted to make the Bible accessible to the masses –#sosososcandalous.

    I personally find that the New International Version or NIV contains simple yet insightful texts, which are great for those just learning to read the Bible.

    A lot of people don’t know where to start with reading, that’s why following a Bible plan is a great and organized way to navigate your Bible reading. 

    There are many Bible plans online that you follow. Here are a few l recommend:

    l also suggest that you get the YouVersion Bible App on your mobile device. It is a free app from Life Church, which offers the Bible in many translations and different languages. It also has reading plans, devotionals, videos, a kid’s section, as well as the opportunity to connect with other believers through its online community.

    Last but not least,  the YouVersion Bible App (not sponsored, but, hey Life Church, give me a call) has an audible function, so you can even have the Bible read out loud to you. This way, you can play the app in your car and turn your trip into a mobile teaching space. Or, you can pop on some earbuds and listen to the Word when you go for a run. The possibilities of hearing the Word any place, any time, are made endless with just one click.

    4. Spend time daily with God

    Christians do what they call “quiet time”. This means they dedicate time in their day to find a quiet spot to sit, play worship songs, journal, read their Bible and pray.

    How long you spend in your quiet time with the Lord is up to you, but do l recommend that you make it a daily practice. Especially in these early days as a New Believer, it is important to lean on God, learn His ways, and gain encouragement in your new life as a Christian.

    5. Find a Mentor

    To help guide you in your first steps as a New Christian, it’s beneficial to have someone who has been walking longer with the Lord to show you the ropes, encourage you, teach you, and pray with and for you. 

    The fruit of a Christian who has not had mentorship is glaringly evident: It shows in their lack of spiritual knowledge, their lifestyle, lack of discipline, and their irresponsibility towards other Christians. Don’t waste your Salvation by becoming like them: Learn from mature Christians and experience the full power, mercy, and wonderful plans that the Lord has in store for your life.

    In order to find a mentor, you need to spend time in fellowship with other Christians so that you can get to know each other. Going to church and joining a small group as l mentioned earlier, is the best way to become better acquainted with your future mentor. Alternatively, if a family member, a friend, or a colleague is a born-again Christian, you can ask them to mentor you. 

    Ask the Lord in prayer to direct you to a mentor. Approach them and ask them to prayerfully consider mentoring you.

    6. Get Baptized

    As an outward declaration of your new-found faith, it is always recommended that you get baptized by water. It is a symbolic demonstration of your transition from your old self, which was dead, to your new being in Christ, who has been washed clean of their sins and is born again.

    Most churches have a baptism schedule on their church calendar. They also offer additional classes to prepare you for baptism, which includes helping you choose a Bible verse that resonates with you and which you can refer to and gain encouragement throughout your Christian walk..

    7. Abide in God

    Now that the Holy Spirit lives in you, you are not the same person you used to be. You are a New Creation, and you have 24/7 access to a God who is reshaping you to be more like Christ. 

    The longer you walk with God, the more you will find yourself seeing the world around you as He does. Things that society gives value to, such as trends, goals, and expectations that formerly held your interest won’t be important to you anymore. Instead, experiencing the mysteries that God will reveal to you will be your source of revelation and fulfillment. 

    That doesn’t mean that the world will try and lure you into worshiping it instead of God. Therefore, it is important to abide in Him, which means to listen to Him, spend time daily with Him in prayer and in your Bible, listen to worship music, and ask Him for direction in order to keep your spiritual eyes on Him and not on the distractions of the world.

    Lukewarm Christians: The Bible warns us about being  “lukewarm” Christians in Revelation 3:15-16. This means we love the things of the world and at the same time claim to love Jesus. However, the two are mutually exclusive, they can’t co-exist. 

    1 John 2:15-16 confirms this: 

    “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them.  For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.”

    1 John 2:15-16

    Social media plays a major role in trying to convince us that we can walk with God and at the same time satisfy our fleshly desires.

    The sad thing is that even those on social media who claim to be Christians are advertising the priorities of the world over the priorities of God. These “influencers” (I mean, the name says it all, hasn’t anyone clocked onto that yet?) are verbatim influencing others that procuring material possessions, having sex before marriage,  spending ostentatiously, and running around half-naked (my eyes!) in the name of fashion is glorifying God. It isn’t. It’s actually offensive to God.

    God has a good plan for your life – far better than what the world offers. In order to clearly hear and see the purpose He has for you, you need to abide in Him, lean on and trust in Him at all times.

    8. Do Good Works

    A natural consequence of abiding in God is walking in obedience according to His will. It means submitting to His ways and behaving and doing acts that seldom have anything to do with us, but everything to do with helping others, just like Jesus did during His ministry on earth.

    It is an outward declaration of our love for God and our gratitude for Him saving us. It means loving others like God loves us.

    “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

    John 13:35

    Doing good works comes in many forms: Helping the elderly, giving generously with our finances, being friendly to those who don’t like us, using our talents to help others, just to name a few.

    We can also do good things on a daily basis to reflect God’s love towards others e.g giving someone a compliment, letting someone go before us in a queue, paying it forward, raking our neighbor’s leaves, offering to babysit a friend’s kids, the list goes on.

    Tom Krause once said the following:

    “You should never have to tell someone you are a Christian. They should know by the way you treat them.”

    9. Be aware that you have an enemy

    Remember that bloke called Satan who rules the Kingdom of Darkness? Well, he hates God and anything that God loves. And as we are God’s dearly beloved, Satan hates us in particular. 

    Satan declares war on all of those who are in a relationship with Christ.

    Why?

    Because now we have knowledge of God, we have His spirit indwelling us and our spiritual eyes are opened to the endless possibilities that God offers us to live a victorious life. Satan relied on our ignorance in order to torture us and keep us imprisoned in spiritual strongholds without our knowledge or permission. Our Salvation breaks us free of Satan’s hold over us, and it does not bode well with him.

    Additionally, the enemy knows that God will use us as a vessel to bring others into a relationship with Him, and he doesn’t want people to turn away from him and instead, turn to God.

    Do you want to know an impactful truth? 

    Satan is afraid of you.

    Yes, you!

    Spiritual warfare: Because Satan is in fear of us, He wages war on all believers. The battlefield takes place in our minds and comes in the form of depression, fear, anxiety, a poverty mindset, and more. He places curses on our family lines in the form of addiction, unemployment, and health problems, just to name a few.

    Have you noticed re-occurring issues in your family such as diabetes, alcohol abuse, or incarceration? Have all the males in your family died around a certain age? These examples and more are not just coincidental, nor are they the consequences of bad luck – Satan is your enemy and is waging warfare against you.

    2 Corinthians 10:4-5 explains spiritual warfare: 

    “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

    2 Corinthians 10:4-5

    Some Christians are afraid of the devil and get all-a-jittery if they hear his name mentioned in their presence. However,  there is no reason to fear, for God is our Overcomer. The Book of Revelations prophesizes the defeat of Satan. He only has a limited reign of terror and he knows it!

     “And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”

    Revelation 20:10

    In the meantime, Jesus is our advocator, who teaches us how to protect and arm ourselves against the plots and ploys of our enemy. One weapon you are already aware of – the Bible. Therefore, having a strong knowledge of the Bible is imperative so that you are not a defenseless pawn in the devil’s schemes.

    Additionally, Ephesians 6:13-17 tells us to put on the Armour of God. So, just as you get dressed every morning, speak this Scripture over yourself and put on God’s armor, which consists of:

    • the helmet of Salvation
    • the sword, which is the Word of God in your right hand
    • the shield of saving faith in your left hand
    • the breastplate of righteousness
    • the belt of Truth
    • the Gospel of peace on your feet.

    To quote a song title from the band Status Quo, “You’re in the army now”. You are a soldier of Christ and a darn good one at that – you just don’t know it yet.

    So, don’t focus too much on Satan – he likes the attention. Instead, focus on God and enjoy your new relationship with him – God has the enemy covered!

    Jacob's Ladder Blog official logo

    We hope that you found this article on Salvation useful. Whether you are curious about God and want to know more about Him, you’re a New Believer, or you’re a mature Christian, we believe that there is something that we can all take away from this article to ruminate on, use in our own lives, and share with others.

    Next month, we will be continuing this series “What the Church Doesn’t Teach You”, with the topic “A Father’s Love”.  We hope you’ll stop by and read it and are blessed by it.

    In Christ,

    Madeline Kalu

    If you would like access to more teachings like this, as well as receive free printable resources and giveaways to encourage you in your Christian walk, subscribe to our free newsletter in the column to your right.

    Christians aren't religious - we have a relationship with Jesus Christ through His gift of Salvation. And the best news is - Salvation is available to you, today!

    Madeline Kalu is a Christian writer and the co-founder of Jacob’s Ladder Blog. She was born in England, was raised in Australia, and currently lives in Germany with her husband, Solomon. Madeline is in recovery from burnout, chronic depression, and anxiety.

    She believes that God can take life’s adversities and work them out for His good; hence, she uses her writing voice to raise awareness of mental illness, as well as to spread the light of God’s love to those who are mentally trapped in the dark, and provide them with hope and encouragement.

    Sources:

    crosswalk.com, “What Is Salvation? (Also: Why It’s Needed and How to Get It)”, Mike Leake.

    crosswalk.com, “What Is Redemption? The Important Meaning for Christians from the Bible”, Dr. Anthony Chute.

    biblestudytools.com, “Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology – Salvation”, Bible Study Tools.

    faithward.org, “What is Salvation?”

    lifehopeandtruth.com, “What Is Salvation?”, Florante Siopan and John Foster.

    christianity.org.uk, “What is Salvation?”

    christianity.org.uk, “How do you Become a Christian?”

    christianity.org.uk, “I’ve Become a Christian – What now?”

    gotquestions.org, “What is the Christian Doctrine of Salvation?”

    wwmf.org, ”The Wonderful Benefits of the Gift of Salvation”, Pastor Dennis Greenidge.

    graceevfreechurchva.org, “Ten Benefits of Salvation”, Pastor Raker.

    worldwidembc.org, “How to Receive Salvation”, Worldwide Missionary Baptist Church.

    gotquestions.org, “What are the names and titles of the Holy Spirit?”

    gotquestions.org, ”What is justification?”

    christianity.com,”What Does James 2:26 Mean by ‘Faith without Works Is Dead’?”, Joel Ryan.


    Share and Encourage Others
  • 2023 Break Free and Be Blessed

    Turn Dreams into Goals

    Share and Encourage Others

    A collaboration with Cally Logan at callylogan.com

    By Madeline Kalu

    3 min read

    Dreams. 

    We all have them. 

    We all dream them. 

    Some of us dream of finding the right spouse, or having a baby. Others dream of starting a new business, being healed from an illness or addiction, or going on missions to share the Gospel. And some of us dream of living a normal life, protected from unjust persecution and liberated from the horrors of a senseless war.

    Our dreams come to us as wispy fragments of longing – gentle murmurings in the darkest hours of the night that rouse our minds and quicken our hearts with expectation, whilst our bodies ignorantly slumber. Or they come to us unexpectedly as a brief mental snapshot of an alternative future that evokes an unfamiliar flicker of hope in us.

    And yet, too many people tuck their dreams in the mental drawer of their brain that’s labeled “Impossible” “Maybe in the Future”, or “Save for When Times are Better”. Or worst of all, they condemn their dreams into the deepest corner of their hearts and bolt them up tight with a padlock that’s inscribed with “This Could Never Happen to Me”.

    But what if we could live the kind of life we’ve always dreamed of? 

    What if l told you that God wants us to live out our dreams as a fulfillment of His good plans for us?

    So, how do we make our dreams a reality?

    The Bible encourages us to turn our dreams into goals that we purposely pursue to achieve. Proverbs 21:5 declares, The plans of the diligent lead to profit.” 

    However, in order to turn a dream that is in our hearts into a goal that we can evaluate and work towards, we need to first and foremost seek God’s presence to determine whether the pursuit of that particular dream is in accordance with His will. 

    Commit to the Lord whatever you do,

        and He will establish your plans.”

    Proverbs 16:3

    Once we have prayerfully considered God’s purpose for us, we need to write our goals down.

    “Write down the revelation

     and make it plain on tablets.”

    Habakuk 2:2

    You can write down your goals in a journal, make a goal map, or set up a vision board. Additionally, calculate the costs and benefits of reaching your goals, as Jesus explains in Luke 14:28:

    “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?”

    Setting goals is not unspiritual. In fact, it goes against God’s desire when we live a life without motivation or purpose, as He illustrates in Proverbs 6:6-9:

    “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!

    It has no commander, no overseer or ruler,

    yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.

    How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep?”

    Therefore friends, dare to believe that 2023 will be the year that you see your dreams become a reality! Make goals in the assurance that God is with you and guiding you, and that the plans He puts in your heart are to prosper you and to give you hope and a future.

    Photo: B. Tran

    Madeline Kalu is a Christian writer and the co-founder of Jacob’s Ladder Blog. She was born in England, was raised in Australia, and currently lives in Germany with her husband, Solomon. Madeline is in recovery from burnout, chronic depression, and anxiety.

    She believes that God can take life’s adversities and work them out for His good; hence, she uses her writing voice to raise awareness of mental illness, as well as to spread the light of God’s love to those who are mentally trapped in the dark, and provide them with hope and encouragement.


    Share and Encourage Others
  • 2023 Break Free and Be Blessed

    Vision

    Share and Encourage Others

    A collaboration with Cally Logan at callylogan.com

    By Cally Logan

    5 min read

    “Then the Lord replied:

    “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets

    so that a herald may run with it.

    For the revelation awaits an appointed time.

    it speaks of the end and will not prove false.

    Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.”

    Habakkuk 2:2-3 (NIV)

    What is your vision? 

    Is it crafted and forged by your own hands, or has it been written upon your heart by the Creator of the Cosmos? 

    We have become so accustomed to abiding by the world’s command of “making things happen” in our own strength,  that often times we neglect to even ask God what His vision for our lives really is. 

    The Bible gives numerous testimonies of visions that God has given His people. These prognoses often revealed the following:

    • What was to come
    • The heart-attitude of obedience that God’s people were required to fulfill
    • The God-directed paths they were instructed to walk in

    Habakkuk 2:2-3 informs us that when God gives a vision, it is usually one that contradicts and even challenges our accustomed way of thinking. Additionally, the fulfillment of that vision is rarely a quick process.

    God is not asking you to make things happen in your own strength; rather, He is asking you to trust and obey Him.

    So how do we do that and not lose encouragement in the waiting?

    As you enter this new year of 2023, invite the Lord into the vulnerable and sensitive spots of your life. Ask Him to shape and give you a word, picture, or glimpse of what He desires for your life. Even if it seems impossible or you are unsure as to how it could possibly unfold, trust Him. Remember that He is the God of the “how” and your only requirements are to trust and to walk in obedience.

    Additionally, connect that which you receive in your quiet time with confirming Scriptures. Recall the words of 1 John 4:1-3 of testing the spirits in order to ensure that you are in alignment with His Holy Spirit. Pray out Jeremiah 33:3 in the areas of your life where you are unsure or have confusion, and trust that He will provide you with all that you need in the meantime.

    As a further encouragement, do not lose hope as the fulfillment of the vision lingers. One of the greatest plots of the Enemy is to discourage us that we have somehow missed the mark, we are too late, or that God can no longer act in our situation due to bad timing. However, if God holds all of time, space, and reality under His control (Philippians 3:21), then why should we doubt that He can bring about what He promised – and with His perfect timing?

    We love and serve the same God Who raised Lazarus from the dead four days after he was placed in a tomb and who opened the wombs of the elderly Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist, and Sarah the wife of Abraham. Time is in His hands, so though it may linger, wait. It will not prove false.

    Isaiah 55:11 reminds us of the following:

    “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;

    It shall not return to Me void,

    But it shall accomplish what I please,

    And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”

    As the Creator of the universe, when God speaks, action must take place. Even if we do not perceive it, things are moving around us and being ordered into place. Though it tarries, action is happening behind the scenes.

    Therefore, choose to believe and await God’s purposes to unveil the visions He has for your life.

    Foto von Greg Rakozy auf Unsplash

    Cally Logan is a US History teacher and Senior Writer for Crosswalk.com. She is a small group leader for high school girls, and enjoys challenging her students to develop deeper relationships with God and to live fearlessly. She received her B.A. Degree from Regent University. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time in nature, gardening, and woodworking.

    “In life, be a snowflake—leave a mark, but no stain.”

    TikTok: Cally_Logan

    Instagram: CallyLogan

    Twitter: CallyLogan


    Share and Encourage Others
  • 2023 Break Free and Be Blessed

    The Power of a Name Change

    Share and Encourage Others

    A collaboration with Cally Logan at callylogan.com

    By Madeline Kalu

    3 min read

    Have you ever considered that you are known by many names? Firstly, there are the names you are given at birth. Then there are the names that you are defined by at home, such as “wife”, “husband”, “mother”, “father” etc. At your workplace, your name is attached to your job description, and in your social circle, your name is synonymous with your role as  “friend”. 

    And what about the plethora of names that society labels us with? These are antipathetic designations that evoke gaslighting, body shaming, racial profiling, and more – pick your poison, for each and every one of us has been the victim of some form of societal name-calling. Unlike the children’s rhyme, they do hurt like sticks and stones, which is their intention, only the scars are psychological, not physical. 

    What can we surmise from all of the above? Names have power. Names can lift us up, encourage us, and give us confidence, or they can pull us down into a spiral of confusion, mental anguish, and self-loathing.

    If we can agree on this, then we need to consider that maybe the most grievous form of name abuse we experience actually derives from ourselves. Think about the names you call yourself on a daily basis – for example, “fat”, “ugly”, “depressed”, or “loser”. If hearing such names from others is hurtful, how much more damaging is it for us to hear ourselves speak such names over our own person?

    Proverbs 18:21 states that the “tongue has the power over life and death.” That means that you can speak life, confidence, and success over yourself, or you can talk yourself down into a pit of negativity and hopelessness. If you don’t like the names you are giving yourself, then you need to start addressing yourself by new names.

    The Bible shows significant examples of the power of a name change. In Genesis 32:28, God changed Jacob’s name, which means “supplanter” “or “deceiver” to Israel, which means “one who has struggled with God and has overcome”.  In Acts 9:1-19, Saul, the persecutor of Jews, had a divine encounter with God on the road to Damascus, who changed his name to Paul. Simon, who denied Jesus three times upon His arrest, was given the new name of Peter.

    What effect did such name changes have on these men of God? Israel became the founding patriarch of the 12 Tribes of Israel. Paul was the first missionary to proclaim the Gospel to the Gentiles and wrote 13 of the 27 books of the New Testament. Peter, who in Greek means Petros (Πέτρος) or “the rock”, became a significant leader in the Early Church and preached a key sermon at Pentecost, where 3000 people came to a knowledge of Christ. 

    Friends, there is power in a name change.  If we want to live the life we envision in 2023, we need to change the names we give ourselves. 

    Don’t know where to start? 

    How about we begin by calling ourselves the names that God has given us:

    – Child of God (Galatians 4:6-7)

    – Fearfully and Wonderfully Made (Psalm 139:14

    – Saved and Sanctified (Ephesians 2:8)

    – Overcomer (1 John 5:4)

    – Holy and Beloved (Colossians 3:12)

    and there are many more such names for us to be found in the Bible. 

    Start changing how you name yourself, and watch how the power that God unleashes into your life will manifest your words into the breakthrough you have been waiting for.  

    Foto von CHUTTERSNAP auf Unsplash

    Madeline Kalu is a Christian writer and the co-founder of Jacob’s Ladder Blog. She was born in England, was raised in Australia, and currently lives in Germany with her husband, Solomon. Madeline is in recovery from burnout, chronic depression, and anxiety.

    She believes that God can take life’s adversities and work them out for His good; hence, she uses her writing voice to raise awareness of mental illness, as well as to spread the light of God’s love to those who are mentally trapped in the dark, and provide them with hope and encouragement.


    Share and Encourage Others
  • 2023 Break Free and Be Blessed

    Restoration

    Share and Encourage Others

    A collaboration with Cally Logan at callylogan.com

    By Cally Logan

    2 min read

    “Be glad, people of Zion,
        rejoice in the Lord your God,
    for He has given you the autumn rains
        because He is faithful.
    He sends you abundant showers,
        both autumn and spring rains, as before.
    The threshing floors will be filled with grain;
        the vats will overflow with new wine and oil.

    “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten—
        the great locust and the young locust,
        the other locusts and the locust swarm—
    my great army that I sent among you.”

    Joel 2:23-25

    Bit by bit, piece by piece, the tender leaves are eaten away. The tender hopes, dreams, and parts of our lives that undergo targeted and forceful attacks by the Enemy. Doubts, fears, and intrusive thoughts – piece by piece, bite by bite, they seek to strip us of joy, fulfillment, and splendor in life.

    But, God.

    Joel 2:23-25 is a promise to us of the hope that is introduced when God comes on the scene.

    Whatever you have faced or are facing, stand firm that even the fiercest of invasive storms do not last forever and that there is always room for intervention by God. Just as the cold and barren branches look so lifeless and without any inkling that life could ever exist again in Winter, we do not doubt that within a span of weeks, new hope will again emerge in the growth of a budding leaf of Spring. In the same way, we can hold firm that Spring will come again: A new Spring and with it, buds of promise to restore that which has been lost, stripped, and destroyed.

    Perhaps you have found yourself in a place in your life where you feel eaten away by locusts, or bare and frigidly lacking any suggestion of change for the better. Don’t discount what God is doing in the waiting, and do not limit God to predictability. We serve a God who is Creator: Just as He made you, He can restore you as well.

    When God restores something, He brings it back in a way that not only feels new, but is actually better than when the locusts first scorned it.

    Ask the Lord where He wants to pour out His Spirit of healing and restoration upon the areas of your life that have faced the invasion of locusts. Remember that His breath gives life to dirt and hangs stars in the sky.

    Allow His breath to restore your life.

    Blog photo: Foto von Ante Gudelj auf Unsplash

    Cally Logan is a US History teacher and Senior Writer for Crosswalk.com. She is a small group leader for high school girls, and enjoys challenging her students to develop deeper relationships with God and to live fearlessly. She received her B.A. Degree from Regent University. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time in nature, gardening, and woodworking.

    “In life, be a snowflake—leave a mark, but no stain.”

    TikTok: Cally_Logan

    Instagram: CallyLogan

    Twitter: CallyLogan


    Share and Encourage Others
  • 2023 Break Free and Be Blessed

    Reteaching Ourselves to Believe in Signs, Visions, and Wonders

    Share and Encourage Others

    A collaboration with Cally Logan at callylogan.com

    By Madeline Kalu

    2 min read

    A few years ago, when l was working as a primary school teacher in Germany, a colleague and l had planned an open-air gathering on a clear and chilly November afternoon to commemorate a beloved children’s holiday. 

    Though the school l taught at was non-denominational, l always prayed over my school children and this day was no exception. In particular, l prayed for safe travels for parents and children on the icy roads and that the event would glorify the Lord.

    The highlight of the afternoon’s festivities was a performance of traditional songs by some of the students. As they played, my gaze was drawn upward to two military aircraft flying past. As they crossed paths directly above us, each jet released a stream of aerobatic smoke oil that formed an enormous white cross in the bright blue sky. 

    The crowd oohed and ahhed at the sensational display, however, l marveled at what was for me, a sign that God had heard my prayers and was with us. And yet, when l later relayed this revelation to a friend, he shrugged his shoulders and said, “The planes just happened to fly past when the children were playing – the cross was pure coincidence.”

    Was it though? 

    The Bible contains numerous accounts of men and women of faith who walked daily in the expectation of experiencing God’s signs, wonders, and miracles. When David faced Goliath in 1 Samuel 17:42-51, he wasn’t intending to die that day – he was believing in God to intervene divinely. And the result? God blessed David with a shepherd’s weapon of a slingshot and a stone combined with a deadshot aim to bring down a giant. 

    Trapped between Pharaoh’s forces and the Red Sea in Exodus 14:21-31, Moses raised his staff and trusted God to do the impossible and save the Israelites. God responded by parting the waters for them to cross safely, while the same miracle drowned the Egyptians. And what about Esther, who, in her eponymous book, relied on God to supernaturally revoke a national law that would result in racial genocide for her and her people? 

    Friends, over time, we have forgotten the ways of our biblical forefathers and stopped believing that God performs signs, wonders, and miracles in our lives. Instead, we have come to believe in ourselves and our own capabilities. And yet, despite our most valiant efforts, what we can self-sufficiently achieve is reliant on our demarcated humanity. However, God in His infinite power and might can do exceedingly and abundantly more than we can think, ask, or imagine. Nevertheless, we need to do our part and start believing again that He can and will turn up divinely in all that we do.

    Our God is still the God of miracles. Therefore, let us make 2023 our year for breakthroughs by reteaching ourselves to believe in signs, visions, and wonders. Let us become so accustomed to seeing God move in seemingly impossible ways and thereby enable others to see His glory through our blessings. 

    Blog image: Ricardo Esquivel

    Madeline Kalu is a Christian writer and the co-founder of Jacob’s Ladder Blog. She was born in England, was raised in Australia, and currently lives in Germany with her husband, Solomon. Madeline is in recovery from burnout, chronic depression, and anxiety.

    She believes that God can take life’s adversities and work them out for His good; hence, she uses her writing voice to raise awareness of mental illness, as well as to spread the light of God’s love to those who are mentally trapped in the dark, and provide them with hope and encouragement.


    Share and Encourage Others
  • 2023 Break Free and Be Blessed

    Dreams

    Share and Encourage Others

    A collaboration with Cally Logan at callylogan.com

    2 min read

    “I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
    Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
        your young men will see visions,
        your old men will dream dreams.”

    Acts 2:17 (NIV)

    The Creator of the Cosmos speaks today, and He speaks in profound ways.

    It is shown time and time again through the Word – from Joseph, to Jacob with the coat of many colors, to Solomon, to Joseph the husband of Mary – God comes piercing through our nightly slumber to deliver unto us messages of hope, of future, of warning, or of command. 

    Acts 2:17 ignites the promise God made first in Joel 2:28 that in these days where we await the return of the King, we should expect an outpouring of dreams and visions through His Holy Spirit. These unique dreams are not that of the catacombs of our brains or even the most creative contributions of our imaginations; rather, they are laced with peace and a beckoning to know more. More of the metaphorical significance of our dreams, or a prophetic glimpsing of what is to come, more of what is beyond us, and more of His Spirit. 

    We underestimate and limit God by coming into the belief that He does not use unique ways with which to communicate with us. When we ask God to reveal more of His heart for us, for the world, and for the specific role we each play in the Kingdom, there is a good chance He could use dreams.

    If indeed God does offer to you a dream, act accordingly by His will. Firstly, by coming before Him in prayer for discernment, prayer for revelation, prayer of testing the spirits (1 John 4:1-6), and prayer for next steps. You may have an action to take or something to prepare for that will not only impact your life, but the lives of those around you, as well as the lives of yours to come. Remember that God wastes nothing, so if He is inviting you into something through a dream, stand firm that it holds great purpose ahead. 

    God does not only use dreams to communicate with us, but it is a great gift of the Spirit when He chooses to do so. Let us pray and invite the Holy Spirit to use us as vessels and ambassadors of the Kingdom by whatever means He sees fit to communicate with us through. 

    Blog photo:  Johannes Plenio on Unsplash

    Cally Logan is a US History teacher and Senior Writer for Crosswalk.com. She is a small group leader for high school girls, and enjoys challenging her students to develop deeper relationships with God and to live fearlessly. She received her B.A. Degree from Regent University. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time in nature, gardening, and woodworking.

    “In life, be a snowflake—leave a mark, but no stain.”

    TikTok: Cally_Logan

    Instagram: CallyLogan

    Twitter: CallyLogan


    Share and Encourage Others
  • Personal testimonies

    Maddy’s Monthly Musings – October 2022

    Share and Encourage Others

    Written by Madeline Kalu

    Reading Time: 3 Minutes

    Don’t you just love Fall? The changing of the leaves to hues of russet, gold, and dark red, the first chill in the air, and the emergence of pumpkins everywhere – in home decor and heartwarming autumnal fare (l love me some pumpkin cupcakes!). And who can let Fall pass by without enjoying a pumpkin-spiced latte?

    For those of you who may not know, my husband and l have recently moved interstate to the south of Germany. It has been a real answer to prayer – more so, as we have been blessed to witness the first signs of Fall in this new and unexplored part of the country.

    I’ve always been a person who walks the road with the intent of reaching one goal after another. It is difficult for me to enjoy the journey, let alone just stand still and enjoy the current moment. 

    After finally achieving the goal of moving, the next tasks of settling in and making a home have been on my mind. However, instead of putting on my blinkers with the intention of ticking off my to-do lists, God has been drawing me out into the beautiful autumnal landscape of the village we are now blessed to call home.

    He takes me on walks in the countryside, where l marvel at seas of ripe yellow cornfields swaying and bending in the breeze.  Surrounding mountains stand to attention with castle ruins sitting on their hilltops like medieval-themed cake toppers. I watch horses frolicking and kicking their heels, hear chickens in people’s yards clucking and scratching, and l pet the village cats who approach me happy and content after a successful mice hunt in the nearby paddocks. I walk under avenues of trees and look up to see their golden foliage* playing peek-a-boo with dazzling rays of sunlight that pleasantly kiss my face with warmth and the manifestation of the Creator’s love.

    And in this gentle, loving way, God is teaching me to stand still and take in the moment. Take in the moment that my husband and l are finally in the place we have been praying to be in. Take in the moment that it is now time to beat the sword that we have been wielding into a plowshare (Isaiah 2:4). Take in the moment and realize that God is in everything around us, from the smallest of the wild daisies that l picked yesterday, to the largest mountain overlooking our village. 

    Take in the moment to be still and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10).

    If you tend to be like me and are fixed on getting to your destination instead of enjoying the journey, try parking for a short while on the side of your metaphorical road. Get out, stretch your legs and then take in the moment. For God has promised us that He has come so that we may enjoy life in abundance until it overflows (John 10:10). However, we can only do that if we stop constantly striving, and instead, start to enjoy the season we are currently in, including the friends, family, and loved ones we have around us.

    And who knows, maybe we might even make ourselves available to receive a deeper revelation of God that will equip us for the continuation of our journey.

    Until next month, stay blessed!

    Madeline

    *I took this photo last week on one of my walks.

    Madeline Kalu is a Christian writer and the co-founder of Jacob’s Ladder Blog. She was born in England, was raised in Australia, and currently lives in Germany with her husband, Solomon. Madeline is in recovery from burnout, chronic depression, and anxiety.

    She believes that God can take life’s adversities and work them out for His good; hence, she uses her writing voice to raise awareness of mental illness, as well as to spread the light of God’s love to those who are mentally trapped in the dark, and provide them with hope and encouragement.


    Share and Encourage Others
  • Racial Justice Awareness

    Refugee Roulette – How Ethnicity Influences Your Survival Chances in the Ukraine War

    Share and Encourage Others

    By Madeline Kalu

    The Lord commands us to stand up for injustice in Isaiah 1:17:

    “Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed.
    Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.”

    We hope that the following words will encourage you to seek justice and defend the oppressed in your corner of the world. One person can make a difference.

    I want to thank my husband Solomon for his invaluable advice and encouragement in writing this article and for always supporting me in my pursuit to promote racial justice and equality.

    The world doesn’t mean well to ethnic minorities. Growing up in Australia as a child of Sri Lankan parents, l can personally vouch for that. My father used to spend hours lecturing me on how l would be treated differently in life on account of my skin color. His favorite example of this was the theoretical job application: If l was going for an interview for a job, and a Caucasian was applying for the same position, odds were that the Caucasian would be chosen over me. If l wanted that position, he advised me, then l had to make sure that l was the most qualified person sitting in that waiting room. Just imagine hearing that on repeat for 18 years.

    Admittedly, my father did overplay the racist card on occasion. Having said that, when l left Australia and moved to Germany over 20 years ago, l quickly realized that what he taught me about racial injustice wasn’t as overblown as l had always thought it was when l was a kid.

    Take, for example, the war that broke out in Ukraine this February. Public opinion, support, and solidarity towards the plight of Ukrainians have indeed been astounding, especially from Europe. It’s the way we should react when confronted with a humanitarian crisis, right?

    Now, just to clarify: By “our fellow man”, l mean our fellow “white” man. For the measures being taken to help the people of Ukraine in their hour of need are intended to help the country’s native citizens. Not the Africans, Asians, Arabs, who are also living in Ukraine, or even refugees from Syria and Yemen, who are desperately trying to evacuate what is for them a second war zone – but white refugees. Ukrainians, to be precise.

    As if their situation isn’t already precarious enough, ethnic minorities have to contend with deliberate acts of racism by police, border officials, and civilians – both in Ukraine and neighboring countries – in their attempts to find safety and political immunity.

    Racism is a serious issue in Europe. Foreigners like myself are racially profiled and discriminated against frequently on both institutional and personal levels: Heck, it happened to me just today in a supermarket queue. The plus side is that at least in Germany you can live a relatively peaceful life as an immigrant. However, in a country that is being subjected to war such as Ukraine – how criminal is it then to persecute the persecuted based on the color of their skin?

    Contrary to your initial impression of me (and the opinion you’ll form after reading this article), l have no ill feelings towards Ukraine. What is happening there is wrong, and the Ukrainian people do not deserve to suffer as they do. However, racism is also wrong, as is the double standard of treatment that people of color in Ukraine are being subjected to. In this situation, “Ukraine” and “racism” are not mutually exclusive terms.

    Also, for me to be anti-Ukraine would be counterintuitive, for my stepson is Ukrainian. He was born and raised in Kyiv, the country’s capital; however, since the Russians invaded the city four months ago, he and his mother are trying to seek asylum in England. What’s more, he is of mixed race: His father, who is my husband, is Nigerian. Considering the current acts of racial prejudice being directed at non-Caucasian refugees in and around the borders of Ukraine, you can imagine how his dad and l are concerned for his welfare.

    Therefore, regardless of whether you have a personal stake in this war such as myself, or you are objectively watching the events unfold from the comfort of your living room on the other side of the world; the truth is, in the midst of the current humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, people are finding justification in dehumanizing others, and this is an issue which (should) affect(s) us all.

    When Flight Turns into a Lethal Game of Chance

    The 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol define a refugee as “a person who is outside his or her country of nationality or habitual residence; has a well-founded fear of being persecuted because of his or her race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion; and is unable or unwilling to avail him – or herself of the protection of that country, or to return there, for fear of persecution.”

    Under these global instruments, all refugees are assured protection, a recognition of their status as persecuted individuals, and fair and equal treatment. However, refugees of color are not experiencing these rights currently in Ukraine and its surrounding areas.

    Flight opportunities out of Ukraine have turned into a competitive field of survival, where favor and help are only guaranteed to native Ukrainians. Contrarily, Third Country Nationals are being blocked in their attempts to leave the country. Videos filmed on phones and posted on Facebook reveal footage of black individuals being physically forced off city trains and buses by Ukrainian police to make room for Ukrainian citizens, being held at gunpoint by the army, or being attacked with pepper spray. I’m not just talking about men, but also women and children, who are being manhandled and pushed around like rag dolls by gun-toting officials, whose job is essentially to ensure order and safety for all refugees, not prioritize evacuation for Ukrainian nationals. As access to public transport is being denied to non-white refugees, they are forced to go on foot to reach the Ukrainian border, which can take days.

    Acts of discrimination continue at the border outposts, where many foreign nationals are denied access into neighboring countries without explanation. However, the most alarming reports of racial prejudice are coming from the Ukraine/Polish border controls. Ukrainian nationals are freely being offered exit stamps and are passing into Poland in droves: As one foreign student observed, “It’s Ukrainians first, Indians second, and Africans last”.

    In comparison, ethnic minority refugees are either turned away at border controls or are segregated into foreigner-only queues, where they are made to wait for days for their exit documentation without food, shelter, or access to hygiene facilities. Those requiring medical assistance must endure until the paramedics have first attended to the Ukrainians. Additionally, they are kicked and beaten by officials.

    And yet, the dehumanizing treatment of foreign refugees doesn’t end once they have crossed over into Poland, Hungary, and Romania. Border towns refuse to provide them with water, food, and blankets, and shops are only willing to sell supplies to Ukrainian nationals. In Romania, Africans have given accounts of being held up at gunpoint by armed civilians and told to leave. In Poland, Africans and Indians are being attacked by right-wing groups, or they’re being rounded up by police and sent to detention centers in Estonia, Austria, and Poland.

    Am l the only one who is dumbfounded at the kind of world we live in, where it’s apparently ok to hunt down people as if they’re the tributes of Panem – all for being darker-skinned?

    Recent Racial Discrimination in Ukraine Has Systemic Roots

    What people may not know is that even prior to the war, Ukraine has had a long history of institutionalized racism toward non-white foreigners.

    My husband Solomon was subjected to multiple acts of racial injustice during his sojourn in Kyiv from 2002 to 2004. He and other black people were frequently arrested by police for no reason and placed in holding cells for hours at a time. Solomon once said that he never knew if a short walk to the supermarket would end up with him getting a free ride in the back of a divvy van. Similarly, the police would patrol the markets, where Solomon owned two shops, and intimidate him and other black sellers with a regular and thorough inspection of their papers. On one occasion, Solomon narrowly avoided being sent to prison by a policeman, who tried to claim that his passport was fake. One such kinsmen was not so fortunate and Solomon later found out that the young man had died whilst incarcerated. A particularly painful memory for Solomon was finding out that one of his closest African friends had been stabbed to death by right-wing extremists at a bus stop.

    I too, bore witness to racist acts when l visited Kyiv with my husband in 2017. We were detained at Boryspil airport by the Ukrainian military, who aggressively refused Solomon entry into Kyiv because he had a Nigerian passport. They then confiscated said passport and disappeared into a back room with it. Although l too, am black, my British passport was grudgingly accepted after much deliberation and a lightning round of brusque questioning. However, l was gruffly commanded to pass through into the next control area without my husband, which was illustrated by a soldier pointing an AK-47 rifle in the direction l was to go. Since that was a bad idea in my opinion, l stood my ground and argued back – guns and threats be da**ed – until the soldiers handed Solomon back his passport and let us pass through.

    We had the pleasure of repeating the same procedure on our departure out of Ukraine, only this time we had to endure a tirade of passengers throwing insults at us in Ukrainian and Russian for holding them up.

    The fact that the Russian invasion doesn’t cancel racist culture comes as no surprise to my husband, nor the many Africans, Asians, and Arabs who still live in Ukraine. However, it is saddening, as a person from Congo admitted in an interview.

    “Good” vs “Bad” Refugees

    During the European Migrant Crisis of 2015, my husband and I visited a church in Cologne, Germany. It was around this time that former German Chancellor Angela Merkel had declared an open-door policy for Syrian, Iraqi, and Afghan refugees. Public opinion was skeptical about receiving and integrating them, which was reflected in the church service on this particular Sunday morning.

    Instead of the expected ecclesiastical program of worship, prayer, and teaching, the floor was opened up to the congregants to give them the opportunity to voice their concerns about the impending influx of asylum seekers – and these concerns were many. It made me uncomfortable to hear church-going folks gripe about people who had experienced the horrors of war being labeled as “different”, “poor”, and “uneducated”.

    Well, who said they were?

    Fast forward to 2022, and this time around, not only Germany, but many countries in Europe, and even Canada and the U.S are going out of their way to enable Ukrainian refugees asylum. In fact, the European Commission has activated the 2001 Temporary Protection Directive, which offers Ukrainian nationals immediate and temporary protection within the European Union for up to three years without applying for formal asylum. Additionally, Ukrainians will be able to work, receive education, and be eligible for healthcare during this period.

    However, this directive does not apply to Third Country nationals. Instead, they are given a 15-day visa, before being pressured to return to their own countries. This is a direct violation of the principle of “non-refoulement” in Article 33 of the 1951 Convention, where a return to the refugee’s home country poses a serious threat to his or her life or freedom. Khaled Beydoun, a law professor, author, and leading scholar in Islamophobia observed, “Let’s not lose sight of how religion, race, and namely, whiteness, figures heavily into refugee settlement.”

    So, why are Ukrainian nationals being welcomed with open arms around the world, and non-Ukrainians aren’t? What qualifies Ukrainians as “good” refugees, and Africans, Arabs, Asians, and other ethnic minorities as “bad”?

    When most people hear the word “refugee”, they conjure up an image of brown-skinned men, women, and children dressed in dirty kaftans trekking across war-torn arid wastelands or living in squalor in makeshift refugee camps. This profile is often associated with Syrian, Afghan, and Yemeni refugees and has been extended over time to include Africans and Asians. Add a foreign culture, a non-Christian religion, and a non-English language to the mix and the definition of a “bad” refugee is complete. In fact, since the outbreak of the war, foreign refugees have also been referred to as “aliens” – a further proof of their apparent subhuman status.

    What’s ironic is that there were 80 000 international students living in Ukraine at the time of the outbreak of the Ukraine war. 4 355 of these students were enrolled at Kharkiv National Medical University alone. What’s more, these 80 000 students were each paying about 8000 USD yearly for their tuition – not a bad financial injection into Ukraine’s economy.

    So, what was that again about people of African, Asian, and Arab descent being poor, uneducated, and “bad”?

    Despite these undeniable facts, a new kind of “good” refugee has emerged out of the current crisis. These refugees are “European”, “educated,” and “middle-class”. Most importantly, they’re “white” and “civilized”.

    They’re Ukrainians.

    How Western Media Influences Public Opinion On Refugees

    It’s no secret that media influence is a real thing. Where the reporting of information should be done in a way that evokes awareness of the truth, informs, and educates, it is instead being used as a modification tool to influence our thoughts, sway our opinions, and ultimately, control our behavior.

    That may sound a bit extreme, l don’t disagree. However, consider your reaction to the following comments from Western journalists: NBC correspondent Kelly Cobiella explaining how Ukrainians are not “refugees from Syria”, rather they are “Christian” and “white”, or Daniel Hannan from the Daily Telegraph stating that “this time, war is wrong because the people look like us and have Instagram and Netflix accounts.”

    It gets worse. The following is the comparison that anchor man Peter Dobbie from Al Jazeera English makes between Ukrainians and foreign refugees; “What’s compelling is, just looking at them, the way they are dressed, these are prosperous… I’m loath to use the expression… middle-class people. These are not obviously refugees looking to get away from areas in the Middle East that are still in a big state of war. These are not people trying to get away from areas in North Africa. They look like any European family that you would live next door to.” I guess Peter has failed to notice that his payslips are signed by the Qatar government.

    However, the most appalling example of racist journalism is from the BBC, which allowed the following comment from David Sakvarelidze, a Ukrainian politician, to be broadcast, “It is very emotional for me because I see European people with blue eyes and blond hair being killed by Putin’s missiles and rockets. It’s really emotional for me because I see European people with blue eyes and blonde hair being killed.”

    What are Western media trying to achieve with such blatant, biased reporting? Well, they’re definitely trying to win sympathy from their First World audiences by drawing similarities between themselves and Ukrainian refugees. Increased interest in their news ensures loyal audiences, which results in more coins making their way into the media big wig’s coffers. All it takes is for consumers to be told, “Ukrainians are white, like you. They’re European, i.e they’re Christian and not pesky troublemakers like those Muslims from the Middle East. They’re well-dressed and have Netflix accounts – hey, you do too! Continue buying our papers and tuning into our news and radio channels to see how our Ukrainian cousins-in-arms overcome!”

    On the flip side, negative journalism that constantly refers to people of African, Asian, and Arab descent as being “Third World”, “non-European”, and “not like us”, only pushes their audiences into believing such rubbish.

    What’s particularly infuriating is that these bad reports simply aren’t true. The Middle East is not the only area in the world to experience war and chaos: First World countries have been home to some of the worst humanitarian tragedies in world history. Remember genocide under Hitler’s regime, fascism under Mussolini, or the more current murders of Rodney King, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and other victims of police brutality in the United States, just to name a few?

    Also, If you have ever been to Ukraine like l have, you will know that it is a poor country. In fact, Ukraine is the poorest country in Europe by nominal GDP per capita. When l was in Kyiv, I was shocked at the level of general poverty. Where we stayed didn’t have hot water and our Ukrainian acquaintances were more concerned about living in buildings that wouldn’t pass health and safety standards than having a Netflix account. In fact, the only Ukrainians we met who were “middle class” were the African pastors of the church we visited, who lived in a fenced and guarded compound (rather unconventional for clergymen, but hey, what do l know).

    Speak Up Against Racism

    If you’re like me and racial injustice is a topic that moves you, l thank you for caring.

    That being said, our sympathy and even empathy for the marginalized is not enough. We need to go that extra mile and speak up against racism.

    Is anyone talking about the Syrian and Egyptian refugees who were beaten and whipped by police at the border to Romania and Serbia in 2020, or the border wall that Poland is currently building on its frontier to Belarus to keep Syrian, Iraqi, and Afghan refugees out? No, the world is only reporting on Romania’s and especially Poland’s charitable reception of Ukrainian refugees. However, by applauding these countries for their pick-and-choose benevolence, we allow the unspoken dehumanizing acts they carry out to become commonplace and worst of all, accepted. (Also, if the border wall didn’t work for Trump in Mexico, what genius thought it would be a hit in Poland?)

    History has shown us what happens when we don’t speak up against racism. A prime example is the Holocaust in Germany, where from 1933-1945 approximately 6 million Jews and 5 million Romany, physical and mentally disabled people, homosexuals, and other victims were persecuted and murdered in an act of ethnic cleansing. And yet throughout this entire period, the Germans claimed ignorance of what was occurring right under their noses.

    l get it: We have many reasons for not speaking up against acts of racism, or any type of conflict for that matter. We’re uncomfortable and embarrassed, and we don’t think that our intervention can make a difference. Or are we just telling ourselves these things as an excuse to walk away and continue on with our privileged lives?

    All it takes is one voice to start a wave of awareness. Look at Dr. Martin Luther King Jnr, whose peaceful approach to advocating civil rights helped Black Americans rally together and end entrenched segregation. Or Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first democratically elected president, who used non-violent methods to protest institutionalized racism, which brought about an end to apartheid and earned him a Nobel Prize. Then there’s Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi, who inadvertently created the Black Lives Matter movement through a hashtag on a Facebook post, which went viral.

    Therefore, let us use our voices to promote racial justice in our little corners of the world. We don’t have to have a huge social media following to make a difference or be a person of public interest. Rosa Parks was an African American seamstress, who in 1955, refused to give up her bus seat to a white man. This action instigated the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott with the result that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that bus segregation was unconstitutional.

    If Rosa Parks could make such a forceful impact by staying seated, what can supporting human rights look to you? It could mean encouraging objectivity and diversity at your workplace or university, seeking friendships with people from cultures and backgrounds that are different from yours, or even talking to your children about kindness and equality.

    As for me? Well, l write. I write to support people like myself who know what it’s like to be judged and trodden on because we have a different skin color, or we don’t have the “right” passport. I write because what l witness being done to people of color over the world can just as easily be inflicted on myself and my loved ones, given the uncertain state of this world.

    Finally, it’s my wish that my 18 year-old-stepson will have the chance of experiencing a future where his skin pigment will not be matched up to a color scale to determine his relevance as a human being.

    I don’t think that’s an unreasonable wish, do you?

    Let’s Start A Conversation…

    In order to raise awareness of social injustice, and to make a change, we need to talk about it.

    Do you have a story to tell about a personal experience that you have had with systemic racial prejudice? How do you feel about the maltreatment of non-Caucasian refugees in Ukraine and other parts of the world? Add your voice to ours and write down your thoughts and comments below. Let us start a conversation on this important issue together.

    Madeline Kalu is a Christian writer and the co-founder of Jacob’s Ladder Blog. She was born in England, was raised in Australia, and currently lives in Germany with her husband Solomon. Madeline is in recovery from burnout, chronic depression, and anxiety. She believes that God can take life’s adversities and work them out for His good; hence, she uses her writing voice to raise awareness of mental illness, as well as to spread the light of God’s love to those who are mentally trapped in the dark, and provide them with hope and encouragement.

    Sources:

    theconversation.com, “Ukraine Refugee Crisis Exposes Racism and Contradictions in the Definition of Human”.

    theconversation.com, “Ukraine: The Good, Bad and Ideal Refugees” 

    unhcr.org, “The 1951 Refugee Convention and 1967 Protocol”, The UN Refugee Agency. 

    theconversation.com, “Is the welcome to Ukrainian refugees unusually generous — or overtly racist?” 

    nationalgeographic.co.uk, “Fleeing War, Facing Racism: Refugees from Ukraine Meet Challenges at Europe’s Borders”, Margot Hinry.   

    theguardian.com, “People of Color Fleeing Ukraine Attacked by Polish Nationalists” 

    wilsoncenter.org,” Life as a Black Ukrainian: How Some Natives Are Treated Like Foreigners”, Amy Shannon Liedy. 

    cfr.org/refugee-crisis, “No Refuge: Why Refugees Have Shrinking Options“ 

    cbsnews.com, “Black Ukraine Refugees Allege Discrimination While Trying to Escape Russian Invasion” 

    humanrightspulse.com, “First Ukrainian, Second Indians, And Last Africans: There Is War, But There Is Racism Too”, Gursimran Kaur Bakshi. 

    bmj.com, “The Ukrainian Refugee Crisis and the Pathology of Racism”, Simar S. Bajaj and Fatima Cody Stanford. 

    euractiv.com, “EU Countries Set to Drop Barriers for Ukraine Refugees”, Julia Dahm and Oliver Noyan.


    Share and Encourage Others
  • Articles

    6 Reasons Why You Can Come to God as You Are

    Share and Encourage Others

    By Madeline Kalu

    15 Minute Read

    We live in a broken world which judges success based on appearance, relationship status, financial worth, and consumer wealth. In order to fit in, we strive to always show the best version of ourselves: We put filters on our social media photos, we run ourselves down to the brink of burnout in order to keep up with the demands of a job we don’t even like, and we answer “How are you?” inquiries with “I’m good”, because who wants to know how we’re really feeling?

    And for what?

    To look like we have it together for people who don’t even truly care about us and to hide our failures, our pain, and our regrets from society.

    Consequently, this mindset of presenting our best self poses a threat to our faith life. We want to have an intimate relationship with God, however, we don’t want Him to see our messy, imperfect selves. We’re haunted by the ghosts of mistakes past and we’re ashamed of the daily temptations and behavioral patterns that currently hold us captive. The thought of disappointing God with our flawed characters and fallen lifestyle fills us with dread: In fact, we convince ourselves that God might even stop loving us if He knew our true identity – the one that we painstackingly try to hide from the rest of the world.

    Therefore, we console ourselves with the assurance that after we have cleaned up a bit and swept our guilt under the carpet, hidden our addictions in the cupboard, and run the hoover around to suck up any lingering mistakes, that we can then invite God into our lives. We convince ourselves that God will only want to be in our presence once we present our best and shiniest self to Him.

    However, nothing can be more further than the truth.

    God knows you.

    He sees your mess.

    And He still loves you – unconditionally.

    God knows everything about you: your strengths and weaknesses, your good qualities and bad – after all, He made you.

    Addtionally, He knew the slips and blunders you were going to make before you even made them, and He still chooses to love you and fill your life with purpose and blessings.

    “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
    and before you were born I consecrated you;
    I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

    Jeremiah 1:5

    Therefore you don’t need to change or try and be a better version of yourself before you can enter into a relationship with God.  

    God wants to be with you in your mess. He doesn’t care if you haven’t tidied up in donkey’s years or if there is a thick film of dust on your shelves: He just wants you to let Him in. The bad decisions you made in the past, the sickness, the failed marriage, the addiction – God will take care of all of that with His perfect timing. However, for now, He just wants you to know that you are loved, you are precious to Him, and you are fearfully and wonderfully made.

    You, my friend, are God’s child and He delights in you (Psalm 149:4).

    And if that doesn’t still convince you that you don’t have to keep God at arm’s length, the following are

    6 reasons why you can come to God exactly as you are. 

    1. You Are Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

    When God sees you, He sees His child, whom He delights in.

    We’ve already discussed that God loves you unconditionally: No matter what you say or do, it could never be so bad that God would stop loving you.

    Additionally, did you know that when God looks at you, He doesn’t see you the way you see yourself? Whereas you may judge yourself by all of the times you have failed in life, In God’s eyes, you are unique and precious. You are fearfully and wonderfully made! 

    “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

    Wonderful are your works; that I know very well.”

    Psalm 139:14

    Photo by Daniela Izotenko on Unsplash

    2. Jesus Chooses the Unqualifed

    God qualifies what the world deems as “unqualified”.

    When Jesus selected His disciples, He chose 12 ordinary men and made them extraordinary.  

    “Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness.” 

    Matthew 10:1

    Four of the disciples were fishermen: Simon (called Peter); Andrew his brother; James the Elder and his brother John. Matthew was a tax collector and Simon was a political zealot. Judas was Jesus’ traitor.

    These men made mistakes during their discipleship with Jesus. They failed at certain challenges He set for them and they doubted themselves.  

    And yet Jesus, knowing their weaknesses and lack of qualifications, trained them and sent them out into the world after His resurrection and Ascension as His Apostles, to spread the good Word. 

    In the eyes of the world, these men would not have qualified to be the chosen scholars of the Savior; however, that didn’t matter, for Jesus qualified them.

    In the same way, the world may sees us as unqualified because we don’t meet society’s expectations. But God qualifies us. In fact, He purposely chooses those that the world reject in order to do His greatest works through them.

     “But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong.”

    1 Corinthians 1:27

    Photo by Matheus Ferrero on Unsplash

    3. Jesus Died on the Cross For Us 

    Jesus died on the Cross for us, so that we may have an eternal relationship with God.

    Jesus willingly died on the Cross of Calvary to pay penance for our sins. He bore the false accusations presented against Him, the violence and humiliation subjected upon His person, and the entire weight of our trespasses – past, present, and future – in order that we may be saved from eternal damnation. He bought us back from Satan with the shedding of His precious blood. 

    This Jesus did, because God loves us so much, that He gave up His own Son, disowned Him and left Him alone on that Cross to die, so that we may never be separated from Him again.  

     “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” 

    John 3:16 

    If God sacrificed His precious Son in order that we may have eternal life with Him, how happy it must make Him when we seek Him and desire Him to be an integral part of our lives.

    Photo by Yannick Pulver on Unsplash

    4. Jesus Came to Heal Us

    Jesus came to heal the sick and the broken-hearted – people like you and me.

     “When Jesus heard this, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.”

    Mark 2:17

    The parable of the doctor healing the sick refers to Jesus being the Healer of our spirit. Jesus is referred to as the Great Physician, because He came to heal imperfect people such as you and l and offer us freedom from our burdens through His gift of Salvation.

    Jesus was dining at the house of Levi the tax collector when He spoke Mark 2:17. The Pharisees in attendance, who knew the Scriptures and upheld the Jewish covenant law, despised and shunned Levi and his guests, who consisted of other tax collectors, Jesus’ disciples, and those who didn’t follow their lifestyle and beliefs, who they called Gentiles.

    And yet, Jesus preferred the company of the so-called Undesirables over the Pharisees, because He loved them. Jesus knew that the lost and broken were the ones who need to hear God’s Word the most: They needed to experience the freedom of salvation, which only He could give. 

    Therfore, don’t think that your history or past misdemeanors determine who you are. You have the right to sit with Jesus at His table and dine with Him!  

    Photo by Ante Gudelj on Unsplash

    5. God Always Defends us  

    When people seek to condemn you, God will always protect and defend you.

    We’ve all experienced it: judgement, criticism and condemnation. However, where people may be quick to find fault with you, God will always be on your side. 

    Consider the biblical account of the adulterous woman, who the Pharisees brought to Jesus in John 8:1-11.

    According to Mosaic law, it was commanded that this woman be stoned to death; nevertheless, the Pharisees brought her case to Jesus’ attention, in order to trap Him. In making a controversy out of whatever Jesus said, they hoped to collect sound evidence in their favour, in order to accuse and descredit Him. 

    However, Jesus saw through their scheming by stating:

    “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”  

    John 8:7

    Well, what could the Pharisees say to that? Nothing. So they all went, and left the woman alone. Jesus spared her life and forgave her of her sins. 

    As you can see, Jesus will gladly take one on the chin for you. Therefore, don’t you want a friend like Him constantly in your corner?

    Photo by Gary Bendig on Unsplash

    6. You Already Have the Gift of God’s Grace 

    We are blessed with God’s grace, which is His unmerited favour.

    The principal of grace is fundamental in understanding God. It is His favour given to us, when we haven’t deserved it or earned it.  

    Ask someone you know who is a Christian, and they will all have an experience to share with you of a time when God showed them mercy in a situation, where they had not deserved it. 

    Why does God give us His unmerited grace? It is simply a part of who He is. His character is such, and it has not changed, nor will it ever change. 

    The epitome of God’s grace is shown through the redemption we receive through Jesus: His coming to earth, living as man did, and then dying on the cross for our sins. 

     “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace that he lavished on us.” 

    Ephesians 1:7-8

    You already have the gift of God’s grace – all you need to do is accept it!

    Photo by Olivia Snow on Unsplash

    We may see what is wrong with us, but God sees what is right. Therefore, stop running away from your Heavenly Father, stand still, and invite Him into your mess. Because that’s the only place He wants to be.

    Madeline Kalu is a Christian writer and the co-founder of Jacob’s Ladder Blog. She was born in England, was raised in Australia, and currently lives in Germany with her husband Solomon. Madeline is in recovery from burnout, chronic depression, and anxiety. She believes that God can take life’s adversities and work them out for His good; hence, she uses her writing voice to raise awareness of mental illness, as well as to spread the light of God’s love to those who are mentally trapped in the dark, and provide them with hope and encouragement.

    Do you have questions or doubts regarding your faith walk, or you need someone to talk to? Write us an email with the Heading “Faith” or leave a comment below. Your fellow readers and the team at Jacob’s Ladder will be happy to encourage and support you!  

    Want to Know More About This Topic? Here Are Some Resources That May Help You

    The following resources provide great insight for deeping your understanding of how you can come to God as you are.

    Online Sermon:

    “God Won’t Leave You in Your Mess | TBN”, Max Lucado.

    Books:

    “God is in the Hard Stuff”, Bruce Bickel & Stan Jantz.

    “What If It’s Wonderful?: Release Your Fears, Choose Joy, and Find the Courage to Celebrate”, Nicole Zasowski.

    Songs:

    “Run To The Father (Official Lyric Video)”, Cody Carnes.

    “God’s Not Done With You (Official Music Video)”, Tauren Wells.


    Share and Encourage Others
  • Articles

    The Love Language of God – 7 ways that He shows His love for you

    Share and Encourage Others

    By Madeline Kalu

    15 Minute Read

    In today’s world that is punctuated with natural disasters, military and political turmoil, as well as the current COVID pandemic, it can become an easy choice to blame God for the broken state of this planet.

    Dealing with additional personal struggles and adversities can lead one to wonder if God loves mankind at all, or if He even exists.

    However, God is very real, and His love is tangible for anyone, who chooses to receive it.

    As humans, we each have our own love language with which we express endearment and affection. Our ability to express love is derived from our Creator, who made us in His likeness.

    Which makes God the original love language expert.

    In 1 John 3:18, John confirms the importance of expressing love through actions and not just words:

    “Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.”

    Therefore, the following are 7 ways in which God uses His love language to express how much you mean to Him.

    A Definition of God’s Love

    Agape” is an ancient Greek word used in the Bible to describe the love that God shows us.

    Before we can look at the ways in which God shows us love, we need to be able to define what His love is.

    In ancient Greek, there are various words to define love. The word agape refers to a love that is derived from genuine empathy and affection, and which is demonstrated through intentional acts of commitment and sacrifice, which demand nothing in return. Agape describes not only an emotional expression of attachment, it expounds a deliberate choice to love someone and evoke the best in that person, whilst at the same time, putting one’s own needs aside.

    Agape poignantly describes God’s love for us. According to 1 John 4:8, God is love: He is agapos. God’s love is not derived entirely from emotions, it is a part of who He is.

    “The Lord is gracious and merciful,
        slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
    The Lord is good to all,
        and his compassion is over all that he has made.”

    Psalm 145:8-9

    Photo by Rachel Strong on Unsplash 

    1. God Made Plans For You Before You Were Born

    God had designed a unique life for you before your birth.

    Did you know that God loved you before you were even a twinkle in your parent’s eyes?

    Jeremiah 1:5 states that God loved us before we were in our mother’s womb.

    How can God express His love for us before we even existed?

    Let us look at the entirety of Jeremiah 1:5 to find our answer:

    “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
    and before you were born I consecrated you;
    I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

    Jeremiah 1:5

    God’s love language for us starts with the wonderful plan He makes for our lives. This plan has been designed before our conception and includes not only our physical makeup and our mental constitution, but also includes the gifts and vocations He has given us that will serve others and bring Him glory and honor. The life God chooses for us is to be a unique one that will reflect the love of Jesus Christ and bring people into a relationship with Him.

    Photo by Liane Metzler on Unsplash

    2. God Calls You His Child

    When you accept Jesus Christ into your heart, God adopts you into His family and calls you His child.

    You may be familiar with the term “Child of God”.

    “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.”

    1 John 3:1

    When you accept Jesus into your heart, God adopts you into His family (2 Corinthians 6:18) and calls you His child.

    Just as adopting a child is an intentional, considered action, so too, is God’s adoption of us. He chooses to adopt us because He loves us. He understands the care, nurturing, and even disciplining we are going to require in order to grow in intimacy with Him and fulfill His plans for our lives; and yet, He willingly takes on the responsibility for our physical, mental, and spiritual well-being.

    Consequently, by embracing us as His children, God is showing us that He wants to be in a relationship with us for all of eternity.

    Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash 

    3. God Invests in Your Life

    God invests in your life with no expectation of a return on His investment.

    As your Creator, God knows what you need. For that reason, He provides for you, instills unique characteristics and personality traits in you, and equips you with gifts and talents specific to your life purpose.

    However, God does not set you up with what you need for life and then sends you out into the world with a pat on the back and a friendly wave goodbye. Instead, God invests in your life by accompanying you throughout your life journey and provides you with a constant flow of comfort, teaching, encouragement, and hope.

    However, unlike entering a financial or personal venture, God does not expect a return on His investment from you. His involvement in your life is one of His love languages.

    4. God Makes Promises That He Always Keeps

    By keeping His promises to us, God shows us how much He loves us.

    Ever since God made His first covenant with mankind and symbolized it with a rainbow (Genesis 9:13-16), God’s promises to us have always proven to be true.

    Here are a few examples of the promises that God makes us:

    • He will never let us down

    “I will never leave you or forsake you.”

    Hebrews 13:5

    • He will answer our prayers:

    “And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have obtained the requests made of him.”

    1 John 5:15

    • He will provide for us:

    “And my God will fully satisfy every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

    Philippians 4:19

    • He will fight our cause:

    “The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to keep still.”

    Exodus 14:14

    • Nothing will ever separate us from Him:

    “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

    Romans 8:38-39

    • All things will work out for good:

    “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.”

    Romans 8:28

    • He promises us eternal life:

    “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”

    John 3:16

    God makes promises that we can trust because that is part of His character. He cannot lie, for that goes against His nature.

    “God is not a human being, that he should lie,
        or a mortal, that he should change his mind.
    Has he promised, and will he not do it?
        Has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?”

    Numbers 23:19

    Therefore you can trust that God’s promises are a part of His love language to you.

    Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

    5. God Encourages Your Personal and Spiritual Growth

    God encourages you to reach your full potential in all aspects of life.

    God loves you as you are. His acceptance of you is unconditional.

    However, just as a father encourages his child when he learns to crawl, then walk, and then finally starts to run, God also facilitates the development of our personal attributes and spiritual maturity. He delights in you reaching your full potential.

    At times, this encouragement may mean setting limits on us; other times, God will hold us upright through a season of difficulty. Though His methods may differ, God’s love for us and His desire to see us live a victorious, God-purposed life for ourselves and our progeny remains unchanged.

    What is particulary wonderful about God is that during our process of growth, He provides us with a safe space to make mistakes, reflect, and make progress, by His grace.

    And when we do act out like the children that we are, God always forgives us and shows us mercy.

    That is a true expression of His love for us!

    6. God Sent His only Son to the Cross to Save You

    God’s greatest declaration of love to us is the gift of Salvation through His Son Jesus Christ.

    When we consider that Jesus Christ became a living sacrifice in order to pay the bond price for the sins of mankind, we can easily forget that our own sins were nailed onto that cross as well.

    In order words, Jesus died not only for others, but for you as well.

    Why did He do this?

    God could not bear the thought of living apart from you for all of eternity. His heart bled at the mere mention of you suffering eternal damnation. Therefore, God willingly sent Jesus – His only Son – to be the sacrifical lamb whose blood would save you and set you free.

    Let’s look at John 3.16 again:

    “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”

    If you have had any doubt until now whether God loves you, surely this is one declaration of God’s love that you cannot deny?

    Photo by Yannick Pulver on Unsplash

    7. God Shows us How to Love Others

    God’s perfect love is an inspiration for us to love others in the same way.

    God’s love for you is perfect. It is a love that is selfless, which nurtures, and empowers.

    1 Corinthians 13:4-8 describes this kind of love so elequently:

    “Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”

    God demonstrates how we can love others by loving us first with His perfect love.

    “We love because he first loved us.”

    1 John 4:19

    Many people are hurting from the effects of a broken world and are in dire need to feel the love of God. You can be a source of light to someone by showing God’s love and help bring them out of the darkness of futility and despair.

    God’s love languages are edifying, uplifting, and offer us revelation of who He is. If more people were to recognize God and allow Him into their lives, His love could change hearts, renew minds, and bring the Kingdom of Heaven down onto Earth.

    Madeline Kalu is a Christian writer and the co-founder of Jacob’s Ladder Blog. She was born in England, was raised in Australia, and currently lives in Germany with her husband Solomon. Madeline is in recovery from burnout, chronic depression, and anxiety. She believes that God can take life’s adversities and work them out for His good; hence, she uses her writing voice to raise awareness of mental illness, as well as to spread the light of God’s love to those who are mentally trapped in the dark, and provide them with hope and encouragement.

    Sources:

    citychurchbloomington.org, “What is God’s Love Language?”, City Church for all Nations. 

    christianity.com, “What Does Agape Love Really Mean in the Bible?”, Agape Roat. 

    austingentry.com, “5 Love Languages of God = Jesus”, Austin Gentry. 

    compellingtruth.org, “How does God demonstrate His love for us? Why does God love us?”, Compelling Truth. 

    debrapedrow.com, “10 Ways God Shows His Love For You!”, Debra Pedrow. 

    graceapostolicchurch.wordpress.com, “10 Ways God Shows His Love For Us”, Grace Apostolic Church. 

    cru.org, “20 Inspiring Bible Verses About God’s Amazing Love for You”, Faith Eng. 

    jamesriver.church, “Are God’s Promises for me?”, Savvanah Lindell. 


    Share and Encourage Others
  • Articles

    How a Vision Board Can Help You Reach Your Goals for 2022

    Share and Encourage Others

    Written by Madeline Kalu

    I first discovered vision boards in 2018 through a series of YouTube videos from Terri Savelle Foy on the subject. For those of you who may not know her, Terri Savelle Foy is a Christian motivational speaker and life coach.

    Listening to Terri’s testimonies on how she used vision boards to realize her goals, motivated me to find out how vision boards could help me achieve mine.

    Therefore, l went up to my attic and found an old corkboard that was standing forgotten in the corner. I cut out the letters “Vision” and pasted photos of the dreams and goals l wanted to achieve for that year. Underneath each photo l wrote a declaration of achievement such as “I will have an article published by Crosswalk.com this year”.

    Did it work?

    It certainly did.

    Not only did Crosswalk.com publish an article l wrote a few months later, but l was also approached by Christianity.com to write an article for them. Since then, I have been writing for both online magazines.

    Additionally, l have had devotionals published in both digital and printed format at The Upper Room and l am a part of the writing team for YMI Magazine.

    Vision boards work, and l am not the only one who thinks so: Christian Celebrities such as  Steve Harvey claim that using vision boards helped them achieve their dreams and goals.

    What is a Vision Board?

    So, what is a vision board?

    A vision board, otherwise known as a dream board, is a visualization tool that uses selected collages and verbal incentives on a board that act to clarify your dreams and goals, as well as keep you motivated and focused to achieve them.  

    Photo credit:  Emily Morter on Unsplash

    Why do Vision Boards Work?

    Vision boards work as they:

    • help you identify and specify the dreams and goals you want to achieve
    • keep you motivated to make these dreams and goals a reality
    • are a constant visual reminder of your intentions to improve your life

    Photo credit:  S O C I A L . C U T on Unsplash

    Do l Need to Use a Board to Visualize my Dreams and Goals?

    Having a vision board hung in a prominent position in your home or your office is an effective way to self-motivate and keep your attention on your intentions.

    However, a vision board doesn’t have to be made out of corkboard for it to be effective.

    You can also create your own unique digital vision boards. Online tools such as PicMonkey and Canva enable you to create beautiful vision boards that you can store on your desktop or device, or download onto your phone.

    You can also use Pinterest to create a board and “pin” photos, images, scriptures, and inspirational quotes on it.

    The advantage of a digital vision board is that you can motivate yourself whenever and wherever you want to: at work, at the gym, or in the doctor’s waiting room. You can even re-focus your life goals by referring to your vision board while you wait in the supermarket queue!

    Whatever way you choose to design your board, the main thing to consider is that it should be kept in a place where you have constant visual access to it.

    Photo credit: Laurenz Kleinheider on Unsplash

    Are Vision Boards Biblical?

    It is a common assumption that vision boards work on the principle of the law of attraction, that is, that your mind works like a magnet to attract positive or negative things into your life, according to your mindset.

    However, the Bible states that we attract what we think:

    “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.”

    Proverbs 23:7 (AMP)

    God advocates the necessity of having a vision – a revelation over our lives. Look at Proverbs 29:18:

    “Where there is no vision [no revelation of God and His word], the people are unrestrained.”

    Proverbs 29:18

    The key point to note here is that vision and revelation should come from God and His Word.

    Furthermore, in Habakkuk 2:2, it states that we should write down our visions and revelations:

    ‘“Then the LORD answered me and said, “Write the vision and engrave it plainly on (clay) tablets so that the ones who reads it will run.”’

    Habakkuk 2:2

    Though some argue that vision boards center around the self through the pursuit of one’s own interests, a vision board can actually be an effective tool to visualize the dreams and goals that God has put in your heart, if the fulfilment of His will is our incentive, rather than pursuing our self-interest.

    In order to achieve this, we need to seek God’s presence through supplication and prayer and keep Him as our first priority.

    Photo credit:  Rod Long on Unsplash

    Am l Materialistic, if l Want to Improve the Quality of my Life?

    A desire to increase one’s personal wealth and acquire material possessions is a common association that is made when we approach the topic of making goals and achieving our dreams. And that is understandable, as we live in a broken world, whose value system is based on self-interest, materialism, and superficiality.

    God is not at the center of such pursuits.

    However, what if you had an ardent wish to be healed of a terminal illness? Or to heal a deep rift in your family? What if your biggest dream was to have a baby?

    You may also be very unhappy with your current job situation, or you would love to start your own Christian ministry.

    Would you seek God in prayer and ask Him to help make such matters of the heart a reality?

    Yes, you would.

    Dreams and goals do not have to be necessarily financially or materialistically orientated.

    That being said, that doesn’t mean that we can’t ask God to help make our financial wishes a reality.

    Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross of Calvary was not only to pay the bond price for our sins: He also came that we may have a fruitful life during our time on earth:

    “The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows].”

    John 10:10

    What remains important is that our dreams and goals are in keeping with God’s will for our lives. Therefore, staying in constant communication with God through seeking His presence in prayer and in our quiet time with Him should be our first priority, not only as goal makers, but as Christians too.

    Photo credit:  Arnel Hasanovic on Unsplash

    What is the Difference Between a Dream and a Goal?

    Good question!

    A dream is an aspiration that has set itself in your heart. It is a vision you have of your future self – a healthier, happier, fulfilled self. You yearn for it and think about it on a regular basis; you hope and even believe it will happen, but you’re not sure when.

    And that’s good, because we can turn our dreams into goals.

    How?

    By attaching a deadline to them.

    A goal is a dream with a projected timeline. Goals are something you act upon. It requires a plan to make them a reality.

    Photo by Peter Fogden on Unsplash

    What Are the Most Common Vision Board Goals That People Aspire to?

    Do any of the following vision board goals apply to you?

    I thought they did! :-0

    What You Will Need to Create Your Own Vision Board for 2022

    Now that you know what a vision board is and how it can help you manifest your dreams and goals, you’ve decided that you would like to take the plunge and create your own vision board.

    First of all, spend some time in prayer and ask God for revelation of the dreams and goals He has put in your heart. Have a notebook with you in order that you can write down your thoughts and dreams as God reveals them to you.

    After you have determined your dreams and goals, it’s time to put them onto your board!

    Here’s What You Need to Get Started:

    A board: A corkboard is ideal to use as a vision board, because you can pin your dreams and goals on them and then take them off easily and replace them with new ones. However, you can also use a whiteboard, a poster board, or a flip chart if you prefer.

    Pictures: Use pictures that graphically describe the dream or goal you want to achieve. Pin or glue your pictures next to the dreams and goals you write on your board. For example, if you are believing God for a baby, find pictures of baby clothing, a nursery, and a crib and paste it next to your goal.

    You can find pictures online, in magazines, or in brochures. You can even use postcards and pamphlets. Alternatively, you can create your own pictures digitally or draw them freehand.

    Adhesive: Use map pins, drawing pins, sellotape, double-sided tape, or glue to adhere everything onto your vision board.

    Writing implements: Write your goals on your board with permanent markers, whiteboard pens, or other pens of your choice. You can even cut out letters from magazines or use letter stencils.

    What Else You Will Need:

    • scissors
    • paper or card to write your goals on

    If you would like a step-by-step tutorial on how to create your own vision board, click here to watch Terri Savelle Foy’s YouTube video on how she sets up her own vision board.

    Customize Your Vision Board:

    The beauty of a vision board is that you can customize it to suit your tastes and preferences.

    The following are some ideas on how you can customize your vision board:

    • Bible verses
    • Inspirational quotes
    • Momentos
    • Postcards
    • Positive Christian affirmations
    • Prayers

    Additionally, you can decorate your vision board according to your tastes with the following:

    • Washi tape
    • Glitter
    • Stickers
    • Ribbons and colorful bands

    I know that this feels like a kickback to your childhood, when you made your own poster presentations, but you’ll be amazed at how your visionary mindset is ignited once you get your creative juices flowing.

    You can also purchase vision board kits that provide you with printables such as scriptures, quotations, and affirmations with which you can customize your vision board.

    However you decide to design your board is up to you. Don’t worry if it doesn’t look perfect; you’re creating a visualization tool, you’re not trying to be the next Picasso. Just have fun being creative!

    Photo by Carissa Weiser on Unsplash

    Make the Most Out of Your 2022 Vision Board

    The following are some tips to help you make the most of your 2020 vision board:

    Make Specific Goals

    If you make unspecific goals, you are going to achieve unspecific results. Therefore, instead of writing on your vision board “I want to lose weight this year”, write down, “I will lose 10 pounds by July 1st”. Instead of writing, “I want to spend more time with God”, you can write, “I will get up 20 minutes earlier every morning and pray and have fellowship with God”.

    Additionally, another way you can set specific goals is to do some research and find out exactly what you need to do to achieve your goals.

    For example, if your goal is to come of out debt in 2022, ring your bank and find out how much you actually owe. Then write that number on your vision board. If your dream is to save up for a holiday, research how much the plane fares, hire car etc. are going to cost you so that you can have that number in front of you every time you look at your vision board.

    Don’t Set More Than 10 Goals

    Setting too many goals can cause us to lose focus and it can also overwhelm us. Therefore, choose 10 goals to place on your vision board and concentrate on achieving them. Every time you reach one of those ten goals, you can always replace it with a new one.

    Set Deadlines

    As we established earlier, the difference between a dream and turning it into a goal that you intend to achieve, is by setting a deadline.

    A good tip is not to set all your deadlines for December 31st, as the time span between now and then is so long, that you won’t be motivated to start achieving your goals until the end of this year, thereby putting yourself under unnecessary pressure as the end of year approaches. Making different deadlines will help you manage your goal setting and give you a sense of accomplishment as you tick each goal off as you progress through the year.

    If you don’t achieve your goal by the set deadline, don’t worry – just make a new deadline and keep striving towards making your goals a reality. The main thing is to complete the race and claim the prize; it doesn’t matter how long it takes to cross over the finish line.

    Make Your Deadlines Realistic

    Three years ago, an acquaintance of mine had a goal to read 52 motivational books by the end of the year. That equaled reading one book a week. I won’t tell you whether he reached that goal or not, but l will tell you that l found his intention to read all of those books admirable.

    However, what if my acquaintance now decides to make a goal for 2022 of reading 12 books a year? It’s a lot less than 52, but it means that he can read one book a month. And to have read 12 books in one year is still an achievement, isn’t it?

    Additionally, break down your goals into smaller, doable increments. Having a goal to read 12 books in one year still sounds like a lot of discipline is required. However, when you see that it means that you only need to read one book a month, and then break that goal down to about 50 pages a week, then reaching that reading goal of 12 books by the end of the year suddenly seems more feasible to achieve, right?

    Another good tip, if you are making a vision board for the first time, is to make goals that you can see yourself achieving within 12-18 months; that way you can achieve a sense of accomplishment within a shorter period of time that will motivate you to pin further dreams and goals onto your vision board.

    Keep Your Vision Board Visible

    Now that you have made your vision board, you want to keep the goals and dreams that you intend to achieve at the forefront of your mind. Looking at your vision board daily will constantly remind you of how you want to change your life for the better; if your vision board is out of your direct sight, the desire for change will lose importance for you.

    Hence, hang your board in a place that you have daily access to, such as your kitchen, or next to your bathroom sink.

    If you have a digital vision board, save it onto your computer desktop or use it as your phone’s screensaver.

    Pray Over Your Vision Board

    On a daily basis, stand in front of your board and pray for God’s will, favor, and guidance for each of your dreams and goals.

    We may have great plans for our life, but God always knows what is best for us; therefore, we should lean on Him and trust Him to guide our steps for the outcomes He believes will best serve us.

    “A man’s mind plans his way [as he journeys through life],
    But the Lord directs his steps and establishes them.”

    Proverbs 16:9

    Speak Positive Declarations Over Your Dreams and Visions

    In Joshua 6:20, the Israelites shouted in victory before they saw the walls of the city of Jericho fall down. In Acts 16:22-26,  Paul and Silas praised God whilst fettered in prison chains before He freed them. In 2 Chronicles 20:20-24, King Jehoshaphat and the Israelites danced and praised the Lord in victory, as they saw a triune of enemy forces approach them.

    There is tremendous spiritual power that is released when you declare your dreams and goals to be achieved before you have even seen them manifest. You are also showing God that you trust Him to fulfil the plans and promises He has spoken over you.

     ‘ Say to them, “As I live,” says the Lord, “just what you have spoken in My hearing I will most certainly do to you.”

    Numbers 14:28

    Therefore, declare your dreams and visions aloud in the present tense e.g. “My dream start-up is up and running”, “I am a mother”, “I am healed of anxiety and depression”, “My ministry reaches millions and gives them hope in Christ”. By speaking in the present tense, you are declaring that you see your intentions becoming a reality now, and not sometime in the vague distance future.

    To assist you in speaking positive declarations over your God-inspired dreams and goals, you can pin positive Christian affirmations on your vision board and read them aloud.

    Update Your Vision Board Yearly

    Even if you have not reached your goals by the year’s end, make a new vision board at the start of every year.

    You can always carry over your unfinished goals onto your new board; however, add some fresh dreams and goals as well, in order to motivate and encourage you to live the best life that God wants you to live.

    Photo credit:  Bonnie Kittle on Unsplash

    Encourage Others to use Vision Boards

    Encourage your family and loved ones to make their own vision boards and thereby bring the dreams and goals that God has put on their hearts to fulfilment.

    You can also sit down with a friend and a cup of coffee and make an afternoon of it creating your own vision boards.

    Better still, invite your family, neighbors, and even your colleagues over for a vision board party! If you would like ideas on how to host your own vision board party, click here.

    Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

    Teach Your Children How to Set Their Own Goals Through Vision Boards

    A vision board is also a great tool to teach kids and adolescents goal setting; additionally, reaching their goals will give kids such a sense of accomplishment and improve their self-confidence.

    If you would like to learn more about how you can teach your children about vision boards this article from Kiddie Matters provides great tips, worksheets, and templates you can download.

    There are also great vision board kits for children that provide colorful and fun materials that will engage your child and motivate them to create their own vision board.

    We hope you enjoy creating your own vision board with the information you learned from this article. Feel free to share your designs and achievements with us in the comment section below!

    Keep the vision alive, my friends! 🙂

    Madeline Kalu is a Christian writer and the co-founder of Jacob’s Ladder Blog. She was born in England, was raised in Australia, and currently lives in Germany with her husband Solomon. Madeline is in recovery from burnout, chronic depression, and anxiety. She believes that God can take life’s adversities and work them out for His good; hence, she uses her writing voice to raise awareness of mental illness, as well as to spread the light of God’s love to those who are mentally trapped in the dark, and provide them with hope and encouragement.


    Share and Encourage Others
  • Articles

    6 Simple Commitments to Make in 2022

    Share and Encourage Others

    Written by Madeline Kalu

    New Year’s resolutions. 

    Some people make them, some people don’t. A few of us keep them, many of us break them by the end of the first week of January. Ah, such is life. 

    Or is it?

    Instead of living with the gut-dropping pressure of realizing a hard list of New Year’s resolutions, how about we choose a softer, more achievable approach to making a positive change in our lives?

    In that spirit, the following are 6 simple commitments you can make to help you improve yourself and your life in 2022.

    The keyword being simple. For in this day and age, why make life more difficult than it has to be?

    1. Try Something New (and fun!) Every Week

    “And have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator.”

    Colossians 3:10

    The New Year is a great time to try out new things, such as discovering a new coffee spot, trying out a recipe you’ve had your eye on, or visiting a place in your hometown you’ve never been to before. Besides, you never know what opportunities you’re creating for God to work for you and through you by getting out of your comfort zone.

    To make it more interesting, you can allocate one day in the week as your day to try something new! The key thing is, choose an activity that is easy for you to start and where you’re not put under obligation to commit, such as the case with a gym membership (How many people sign up for the gym and then never go?).

    What’s most important – choose something that will be fun for you to do!  Remember, we want to keep things simple!

    Photo by Eye for Ebony on Unsplash

    2. Start a Dream that God has Put in Your Heart

    “Though your beginning was small,
        your latter days will be very great.”

    Job 8:7

    Now l know l said that we want to keep things simple – and we do! However, that doesn’t mean we can’t be productive for the Kingdom of God. 

    God has called you to do great things on earth in His name. Therefore, step out in faith and make a start – no matter how small – in manifesting the dream that God has put in your heart.

    For example, that might mean approaching your pastor to set up a street ministry, volunteering at a local non-profit organization, or applying for a job in which God wants to glorify Himself through you. 

    Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash

    3. Encourage Someone Daily

    “Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing..”

    1 Thessalonians 5:11

    Now, this is a nice, fun one! 

    You all know how it feels when someone pays you a random compliment, a stranger smiles at you in passing, or a friend writes you a text and you know they’re thinking of you? Well, why not make it a daily prerogative to encourage one person every day in a similar way? 

    A lot of people are hurting in this broken world, and your one act of encouragement could improve their day and even motivate them to change their lives for the better.  

    It needn’t be a grand gesture that you necessarily make. Even the smallest of actions can cause a butterfly effect that blesses many.

    Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

    4. Meditate on a Weekly Bible Verse

    “I will meditate on your precepts,
        and fix my eyes on your ways.”

    Psalm 119:15

    God encourages us to read the Bible in order to grow in intimacy with Him, teach us His ways, boost our faith, and give us revelation of Himself.

    However, how often do we take the time to quietly meditate on His Word?

    In the New Year, start a habit of reflecting on one Bible verse a week.

    The following are some tips to help you meditate on the Word of God:

    1. Read the Scripture intentionally: Read through the Scripture of your choice slowly and carefully. If you’re unsure of it’s meaning, there are online explanations of the Bible available: Just type in your Bible verse in your seach engine and add the term “analysis” or “summary”. You can also use a Bible dictionary.
    1.  Write out the Scripture and break it down: l find it helps to write out the Bible verse and circle the verbs, as those activation words provide us with direct life applications. 
    1. Check nouns for their historical and metaphorical meaning: After l have studied the verbs in my Scripture, l concentrate on the nouns being used and what their historical and metaphorical meanings are. 

    For example, the word “bulwark” is used in numerous Scriptures and translations, such as Deuteronomy 20:20, 2 Chronicles 26:15, and more. However, what does it mean and how do l apply that word to my own life? 

    You can look up such unfamiliar terms in the dictionary, or more specifically, a Bible dictionary, which will help you see a parallel between the biblical use of the word and how it translates into your life. 

    1. Appreciate the language of the Bible:The Bible is in my humble opinion, one of the most poignant and lyrical written works that has ever been created. Reading the psalms alone can convince any critic! What contributes to the beautiful wordsmithing of the Scriptures are the choice and appropriate selection of adjectives used. God speaks to us through His Word; thereby, pay attention to the deliberate application of descriptive words that can only evoke emotion in you and fill your heart with faith.

    5. Write down the life applications of the Scripture: After understanding your chosen Bible verse, write down briefly how you can apply its message in your life – starting from today. It doesn’t have to be an overt change that you make, rather, it is a change of your heart attitude, which will over time be noticeable to you and others. And that is called “spiritual growth” my friends! 

    Once you’ve established this routine, you can increase the number of verses you meditate on.

    If you’re unsure about which Bible verses you should meditate on, ask God to guide you to Scriptures based on the life themes that are currently valid to you, such as health, children, trusting in difficult times, etc. 

    Additionally, the YouVersion Bible App is a free downloadable Bible app that offers you daily Scriptures as well as reading plans and an online community to help you grow in the Lord.

    However, to start you off, the following are wonderful New Year’s Scriptures to ruminate on:

    “I am about to do a new thing;
        now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
    I will make a way in the wilderness
        and rivers in the desert.”

     Isaiah 43:19 

    “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!”

    2 Corinthians 5:17 

    “For I am about to create new heavens
        and a new earth;
    the former things shall not be remembered
        or come to mind.”

    Isaiah 65:17 

    ‘For surely I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.‘”

    Jeremiah 29:11 

    Photo by Andrik Langfield on Unsplash

    5. Pray for Others

    “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone.

    1 Timothy 2:1

    If you’re like me, you have a list of people you wish to pray for, but you somehow never find the time to sit down and present your supplications to God on their behalf.

    In 2022, why not start allocating a set time for praying for others? It might mean that you have to get up 15 minutes earlier or pray after the rest of your household has gone to bed. You can even set an alarm clock on your phone or block out that time on your calendar to hold yourself accountable.

    Photo by Rosie Sun on Unsplash

    6. Surrender to God

    “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.”

    James 4:10

    Surrendering our lives to God doesn’t end at the time of our Salvation; it is a daily process that we need to exercise in order to rid ourselves of pride, demonstrate our trust in Him, and pursue His will for our lives.

    Additionally, holding onto emotions and negative thoughts can make us bitter,  burden us psychologically,  and even cause physical sickness.

    Therefore, prayerfully approach God and ask Him to help you surrender something that is not serving you. This could mean starting the process of forgiving someone, letting go of a bad habit, or even setting up personal boundaries in your relationships.

    Photo by Guillaume de Germain on Unsplash

    Making positive life changes doesn’t have to be a hard, grueling process. Start with simple commitments that are easy to abide by and then progress onto more long-term ambitions when you feel you’re ready to take them on. 

    And remember, you don’t have to change your life overnight: After all Rome wasn’t built in a day.  God is with you and He gives you His strength to do all things. So, lean on Him and abide in His loving mercy and grace, and He will lead you on a straight and direct path towards the wonderful plans He has for your life. 

    We at Jacob’s Ladder wish you a wonderful 2022 full of God’s mercy and grace. We believe that this year, God is going to show Himself in wonderful and miraculous ways to you and your family.

    God bless you!

    Madeline Kalu is a Christian writer and the co-founder of Jacob’s Ladder Blog. She was born in England, was raised in Australia, and currently lives in Germany with her husband, Solomon. Madeline is in recovery from burnout, chronic depression, and anxiety. She believes that God can take life’s adversities and work them out for His good; hence, she uses her writing voice to raise awareness of mental illness, as well as to spread the light of God’s love to those who are mentally trapped in the dark, and provide them with hope and encouragement.


    Share and Encourage Others
  • Articles

    9 Ideas for a Christ-centered Thanksgiving

    Share and Encourage Others

    Disclaimer: The post contains affiliate links. If you use these links to buy something, l may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products that l would use myself.

    A mild breeze providing refreshing coolness after the smouldering heat of summer, the silent transformation of nature’s colors from green and gold to hues of rust, red, brown, and orange…

    Fall is here! (Or if you’re from my neck of the woods, you say Autumn! ;-))

    The change of season brings with it joyful anticipation of the holiday calendar. And what better way to kick off the festivities than with Thanksgiving!

    However, as much as we enjoy pumpkin shopping, decorating our homes with fall decor, and sitting around the family table to eat a roast turkey meal with all the trimmings, let us remember that Thanksgiving means so much more than that.

    Thanksgiving is about giving thanks ( l mean it’s literally in the word) and yes, it is a time of the year when we specifically express gratitude for our loved ones and what we have.

    However, there’s one major, nay, colossal reason for us to be thankful – not just during Thanksgiving, but every day (1 Thessalonians 5:18) – and that’s God. For it is because of Him that we have Salvation and eternal life with Him, through the death and resurrection of His son Jesus Christ.

    Therefore, if you like me, would like to make God the VIP guest in your home and your life this holiday, then keep on reading our 9 ideas on how to have a Christ-centered Thanksgiving!

    1.Remember God’s Goodness

    Read and meditate on Scriptures that give an account of God’s love, provision, protection, and mercy.

    Thanksgiving is the optimal time in which to reflect on all the wonderful ways in which God has been good to you and your family this year.

    During your quiet time with God, read and meditate on Bible verses that give accounts of God’s promises of love, provision, protection, and mercy. Some wonderful examples of these are 1 John 4:9-10, Hebrews 13:5 (AMP), Joshua 1:9, and Lamentations 3:22-23.

    Also, Scriptures of thankfulness such as 1 Thessalonians 5:18 and Colossians 3:15 help us to keep a grateful heart towards God and others.

    A particularly beautiful way to keep an account of God’s acts of goodness is to write them down as they occur. Keep a gratitude journal of all the times that God has come through for you and yours this year. At Thanksgiving, share your entries with your family and praise and thank God together for keeping you all safe and well for another year.

    Photo by Sixteen Miles Out on Unsplash

    2. Tell Loved Ones That You’re Grateful For Them

    Let loved ones know you’re grateful for them with a Thanksgiving card, such as this one from our Etsy shop
    Faith Love Life Designs.

    Philippians 1:3 teaches us to remember those close to us and to praise God for their presence in our lives. Therefore, in the time leading up to Thanksgiving, let friends and loved ones know how grateful you are for them by sending them a card or a letter. Imagine their smiles when they receive an unexpected correspondence from you, especially if they live far away! Alternatively, ring up a friend, whom you haven’t spoken to in a long time and ask how they are.

    You can even let family members you live with know how much you cherish them: Place a heart-shaped note in your child’s lunch box telling them how much you love them or write your spouse a text during the day just to tell him/her that you’re looking forward to seeing them in the evening.

    Here’s a fun tip: Leave sticky notes around the house with encouraging messages for your family to discover!

    3. Repent and Forgive

    Ask God for forgiveness this Thanksgiving, and forgive others their trespasses as well.

    A key component of being thankful is asking God to forgive us for the trespasses that we made against Him and others this year. Carrying resentment, bitterness, and guilt can weigh us down, and keep us occupied with negative thoughts and emotions, which can ultimately distract us from appreciating the good works and redeeming grace that God blesses us with.

    Repentance encourages us to search our hearts and practice humility as we are confronted by areas in our lives that we need to work on. When we ask God for forgiveness, the realization of how much we need His mercy and grace in our daily lives evokes a deep gratitude in us for the love and blessings He so graciously bestows upon us.

    A great example of the power of gratitude through repentance is Jesus’ forgiveness of a sinful woman in Luke 7:36-50. Described in some biblical translations as being a prostitute, this woman has been declared a social outcast based on her sinful life; and yet, she bravely approaches Jesus when He is dining at a Pharisee’s house and repents for her sins by washing His feet with her tears, drying His feet with her hair, and anointing His soles with perfume. What joy she must have felt when Jesus declared her forgiven in Luke 7:48! How thankful she must have been to be able to start a new life unburdened by the guilt and judgment she had previously carried around with her!

    Just as Thanksgiving proves to be a good time for us to seek forgiveness, so we should take this season to forgive others. Jesus tells Peter in Matthew 18:21-22 that we should forgive not seven times, but seventy-seven times!

    And besides, Jesus forgave us for our sins – and He only needed to do it once. So, who are we to hold a grudge against anyone, when Jesus ultimately gave His life for us?

    Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

    4. Include Scripture in Your Thanksgiving Decorations

    Bible Verse art such as this one from our Etsy shop Faith Love Life Designs is a great way to make Christ the focus of your Thanksgiving decor.

    Keep Christ the center of your Thanksgiving festivities by incorporating your favorite Scriptures in your holiday home decor.

    You can have Bible verses printed on wall prints, wreaths, cushion covers, flags, decals, and wooden signs – all of which you can decorate your home with.

    For the Thanksgiving table, you can place Scripture cards or gratitude cards with Bible verses at every place setting. You can also make your own cards and write or print Bible verses such as Psalm 9:1, Joel 2:26, or 1 Corinthians 1:4 on them. A framed prayer on the table gives a nice touch to your table decor and encourages everyone to read the prayer as a family when they’re at the table.

    If you are interested in including Scripture in your Thanksgiving home decor this year, our Etsy Shop Faith Love Life Designs has a lovely array of printable wall art, cards, prayers, and more.

    5. Count Your Blessings

    As a family, express God’s goodness this Thanksgiving through a Blessing Tree.

    At Thanksgiving, it is customary to share what we are thankful for with our friends and loved ones. In the same way, we can express our thanks to God for His love, provision, protection, and grace throughout the year. A wonderful way to do this is by making a Blessing Tree.

    In order to set up your Blessing Tree, you need to start with the trunk. You can either make this out of brown paper or cardboard and hang it on a wall. Alternatively, you can take a branch from outside and place it in a vase. Make leaves out of paper or use real leaves and place them in a bowl next to the trunk with some pens, glue, and yarn for later. To customize your tree, hang photos of your family members from the branches. When the family gathers together, you can each write on a leaf how God has blessed you and then hang or paste each leaf on the tree. And voila, you’ve got yourselves a Blessing Tree!

    If you haven’t got time to organize leaves, then you can purchase them pre-cut, complete with string for hanging such as this Count your Blessings Thankful Thanksgiving Tree Kit.

    What l love about a Blessing Tree is that it is an activity that even the youngest members of the family can enjoy, and it teaches them from an early age about the importance of gratitude. You can even get your kids to make the leaves for your Blessing Tree by tracing their handprints, which makes the experience even more fun for them!

    Photo by James Coleman on Unsplash

    6. Invite someone to Thanksgiving Dinner

    Invite a friend, colleague, or acquaintance to Thanksgiving dinner.

    Re-enact “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” (I love that film btw) by inviting a work colleague, a single friend (or friends ;-)), or an acquaintance to share Thanksgiving with you and your crowd!

    Many people are alone during the holidays and for that reason, it is a time of the year that they come to dread. Not only can you make this holiday easier on someone by showing them that you see them and that you care, but it is also a wonderful way to extend the love of God through your gift of hospitality.

    And who knows – you might end up inviting an angel to dinner (Hebrews 13:2) ;-)!

    Photo by Jed Owen on Unsplash

    7. Serve Others

    Do as Jesus did and serve others during this season.

    Practicing humility promotes gratitude in us for God and others. And what better way to practice humility than by serving others. Jesus is the best role model for us in serving others. One of my favorite examples of this is when Jesus washes the disciple’s feet in John 13:1-17.

    There are numerous ways that we can serve others that are familiar to us such as volunteering in a nursing home or animal shelter. These and many more are fantastic ways to serve.

    You can also get creative with how you serve. For example, if you are a hairdresser or make-up artist, you could volunteer in the hospital to do the patient’s hair and make-up. Or you could have pizzas sent to your local fire or police station or register yourself for the gift-wrapping service at your local mall. You can even encourage your kids to serve by having them make Christmas cards for your local nursing home, or have them offer to rake the neighbor’s yard.

    The ways in which we can serve are limitless, so let’s start helping others during this season!

    Photo by Josh Appel on Unsplash Psalm 116:17 2 Corinthians 9:12

    8. Leave a Thanksgiving Legacy for Your Children

    Teach your children about the importance of Thanksgiving and the power of gratitude as God’s children.

    Thanksgiving is more than just turkey and football. As Christians, it is important to teach our children their legacy in Christ, especially during this holiday. When Joshua led the Israelites over the Jordan River and into Canaan in Joshua 3, God afterward instructed the Israelites to take 12 stones from the river bed and set them up at Gilgal as a reminder for generations to come of how God stopped the waters of the Jordan to bring His people safely across into the Promised Land (Joshua 4:1-9).

    Teach your children the importance of Thanksgiving and the power of gratitude as God’s children in order that they will remember God’s goodness and pass it on to their children and then onto their children.

    In some of our previous sections in this article, we have mentioned how you can involve children in practicing gratitude, such as making a Blessings Tree or serving others.

    You can also take the weeks building up to Thanksgiving to teach your children to be thankful to God for all things – great or small – that He does in their lives e.g. having running water, food to eat, toys to play with, and so forth.

    Additionally, you can embark on a joint project with your child by e.g. putting a food hamper together for a sick neighbor or a local homeless shelter and delivering it together.

    Another lovely way to teach your children about God and Thanksgiving is through picture books. I found this “Pumpkin Devotions for Preschoolers and Kindergartners” so sweet with its Autumn-themed illustrations, Bible verses, and craft ideas. “A Pumpkin Prayer” is also a cute, colorful book that teaches children how to be thankful for God’s goodness.

    Photo by Joshua Eckstein on Unsplash

    9. Let Blessings Flow

    Let blessings flow like a river by blessing others like God has blessed you.

    Just this Sunday in church, l heard the pastor tell the congregation that blessings are like a river: It flows from one person to the next.

    When God shows us grace and mercy, when He blesses us and makes a way in our lives when we saw no way, then it honors Him when we pass on that feeling of being cared for and loved onto others. The recipients of our blessings can then bless others and so on and so forth.

    There are many ways that you can bless someone. Ring up a friend whom you haven’t talked to in a while and ask them how they’re doing. Offer to babysit your friend’s kids so that they can get their holiday shopping done, or clean their house for them if they’re busy. You can even help strangers by paying at the supermarket checkout or drive-through for the person in line behind you. Even giving someone on the street a smile or a genuine compliment will make their day!

    “Paying it Forward” is also an impactful way to ensure a flow of blessings from one person to the next. If someone thanks you for doing something nice for them, tell them in turn that no repayment is needed; instead, that person can repeat that act of kindness with another individual. Their recipient can in turn perform the same act of kindness for another individual etc. Thus, in that way, you “pay forward” your original act of kindness.

    An example of this would be to give someone your seat on the bus, or your parking space, and the recipient, in turn, gives up a seat or a parking space, and then the next person does, etc. Children can also be active participants in “paying it forward”. For example, you can encourage your child to let another child go ahead of them on the slide or swings at the playground and they pass that act of kindness on.

    A financial gift to a charity or non-profit organization to aid those in need is also a thoughtful way to keep the flow of blessings moving. Giving Tuesday is a global philanthropic movement that encourages people to donate to charitable causes. It takes place on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, that is the day after Cyber Monday. This year, Giving Tuesday will take place on the 30th of November. In addition to financial donations, people can donate resources, time, talents, and even their voices.

    For information on how you can participate in Giving Tuesday, click here.

    Photo by Nicholas Ng on Unsplash

    We hope that you found our 9 ideas on how to have a Christ-centered Thanksgiving useful. If you have any other ideas, we would love to hear about them in the comments below!

    Until then, we at Jacob’s Ladder wish you a Christ-centered Thanksgiving full of warmth, love, and cheer!

    Madeline Kalu

    Co-Founder of Jacob’s Ladder Blog

    Inspiration:

    sharefaith.com, “25 Ideas on How To Show Gratitude During Thanksgiving”, Share Faith Magazine.

    ivyrobes.com, “Fresh Christian Thanksgiving Ideas for Church and Family”

    churchm.ag, “18 Thanksgiving Social Media and Blogging Ideas for Your Ministry”, Jeremy Smith.

    bible.knowing-jesus.com, “40 Bible Verses about Thankfulness To Others”

    sparks.fuller.edu, “Thankfulness and Repentance”, Alice Reed.

    inspiredandrefreshed.com, “Have a Christ-Focused Thanksgiving Table”

    raisingarrows.net, “A Thanksgiving Craft to Cherish Forever (Blessing Tree)”

    ihomeschoolnetwork.com, “25 Easy Random Acts of Kindness Ideas for Thanksgiving”, Cheryl Pitt.

    donorbox.org, “10 Creative Giving Tuesday Ideas 2021”, Wagisha Jha.


    Share and Encourage Others
  • Jacob's Ladder Bible Studies

    Part 3: Jacob’s Ladder Bible Study on 2 Chronicles 20

    Share and Encourage Others

    The Battle is Not Yours, But God’s

    Part Three: Studying God’s Word 

    A Review of  2 Chronicles 20 for Private and Group Study

    Last month, we looked at Part 2 of our Bible Study series on 2 Chronicles 20 titled  “Praise God in the Storm: How to Experience Peace and Gratitude Amidst Adversity”.

    We explored how we can apply the lessons of 2 Chronicles 20 to our own lives; in particular, how we can praise God in the storm, experience peace amidst adversity, and show gratitude for the victories that He gives us.

    In this third and final part of our Bible Study on 2 Chronicles 20, we are going to delve deeper into the biblical and life themes presented in this chapter for private and group study use.

    If you would like to know more about the benefits of studying the Word of God, then l recommend that you read our page “Why study the Bible?”

    The Aim of This Study Section

    This study section is intended as a guide to promoting discussion and reflection on 2 Chronicles 20.   

    Firstly, I suggest that you read Part One and Part Two of this Bible Study, in order to fully appreciate the lesson portrayed in this biblical account and to consider the chapter’s themes.   

    For Whom is This Study Section Intended? 

    You can use the questions and reflections in this study section to discuss and review within a group setting, such as a house group, a Bible Study group, or a prayer group. 

    Alternatively, you can also study on your own. If this may be the case, l have written some suggestions below in the section “If You are Studying on Your Own” to assist you in your learning.   

    Feel free to customize this study preparation by taking out of it what you wish and adding your own ideas and insight. Have fun with it! 

    What You Will Need:
    • A Bible, preferable a study Bible. I personally use the  “The Everyday Life Bible” from Joyce Meyer Ministries  
    • An exercise book or journal and a pen  
    • As an alternative to pen and paper, you can use a tablet or a similar electronic device 
    What Does This Study Section Compose of?

    This study section composes of six parts:

    1. Discussion Questions  

    2. Testimony  

    3. Praise and Worship 

    4. Suggested Reading   

    5. Journal Writing  

    6. Prayer

    These are just guidelines to help you structure your group time. Feel free to add or take out elements as you see fit! 

    Additionally, talk with your group and ask them for suggestions about what they would like to do. The more ideas, the merrier! 

    If You are Studying on Your Own

    If you are not in a group and you would still like to apply this study section of 2 Chronicles 20 to your own private study of the Bible, that is also great! Quiet time with God is valuable time, and you can learn a lot about Him during it.   

    The following are a few suggestions of how you can adapt the 6 sections of this study guide for private study purposes: 

    1Discussion Questions:  

    You could start a journal and write down your thoughts to the listed discussion questions.   

    2. Testimony  

    You could use our suggested topics in the Testimony section as stimulation to write down all the wonderful things God has done in your life by starting a testimony journal or a blessings jar.  

    3.Praise and Worship 

    Applicable in a group setting as well as for private study purposes. 

    4. Suggested Reading   

    Applicable in a group setting as well as for private study purposes.  

    5. Journal Writing  

    Applicable in a group setting as well as for private study purposes.  

    6. Prayer  

    You can speak the prayer at the end of this section out loud. Your words have power, especially if you speak them over yourself:  

    “ So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;  
        it shall not return to me empty,  
    but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,  
        and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” 
     

    Isaiah 55:11 

    Now, let’s look at the 6 sections of our study guide.

    Photo by Andrik Langfield on Unsplash

    1.Discussion Questions

    The following are some discussion topics to assist you in delving deeper into the themes of 2 Chronicles 20.

    There are no right or wrong answers to these topics; they are merely suggestions to stimulate conversation and an exchange of views within your group. Also, feel free to ask others if they have ideas regarding this topic that they would like to discuss and go with it!  

    As each person experiences a different walk with God, it is interesting to hear other people’s perspectives and thereby learn from each other and grow together as a Christian community. Happy talking! 

    Discussion Topics on 2 Chronicles 20: 

    1.Dealing With Fear and Guilt (2 Chronicles 20:3)

    1a. Upon hearing about the inevitable invasion upon his nation, Jehoshaphat’s initial reaction is fear.

    In the Bible, it states 365 times that we need not fear. Additionally, God reassures us that He will never fail us, nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).

    Despite these assurances, however, we can still experience fear when a threat or difficult situation arises.

    Question: Why do you think we fear, although we know God is with us?

    1b. There is reason to believe that Jehoshaphat’s fear of the triune enemy is also due to the guilt he faces at letting God down through his alliance with King Ahab of Israel 2 Chronicles 18.

    In 2 Chronicles 19:2, Jehu the seer confronts Jehoshaphat on his alliance with Ahab, stating that “because of this, wrath has gone out against you from the Lord.”

    Question: Have you wanted to approach God, but felt like you didn’t deserve to be in His presence due to guilt or an awareness of past wrong doings?

    2. The Power of Prayer (2 Chronicles 20:5-12)

    Jehoshaphat stands in the temple in Jerusalem, in front of the gathered assembly of Judah, and prays. God responds to his petition through Jahaziel the Levite and assures the people of His help and victory against their enemies.

    Questions: Why is prayer believed to be so powerful? How important do you think God considers prayer? Does God help us even when we don’t pray?

    3. Spiritual Enemies (2 Chronicles 20:29-30)

    After their victory, Judah’s neighboring nations get the message and keep their peace with her: They understand that God is on Judah’s side and they don’t wish to share the same fate as her previous enemy.

    Questions: Do you believe that apart from human adversaries, we can have spiritual enemies as well? Consider 2 Corinthians 10:4-5. How do these spiritual foes perceive God? Consider Matthew 8:28-34.

    Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

    2.Testimony

    “But they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb
        and by the word of their testimony.”

    Revelation 12:11

    Sharing your life experiences and the victories that God has vouchsafed you is a verbal expression of your gratitude. It gives not only our Father glory, but it encourages fellow Christians, who may be going through the same trial that you have undergone.   

    Testimony Topics on 2 Chronicles 20

    1.The Battle is Not Yours, it’s God’s (2 Chronicles:15)

    The invasion of the triune enemy on Judah is possibly the biggest adversity the nation has ever faced. Without God’s mercy and intervention, Jehoshaphat and his people know that they could never conquer the invaders with their own might. All the glory for their subsequent victory they give to God.

    Questions: Have you also faced what seemed like the biggest challenge in your life? How did God intervene on your behalf? Did you thank God for His help and acknowledge Him when others witnessed your victory? If not, this testimony alone is a good start in glorifying Him!

    2. Providing A Good Christian Example (2 Chronicels 20:3-4)

    Jehoshaphat summons the people to seek the Lord together and fast. However, before he does that, he seeks the Lord himself. Jehoshaphat knows that he can’t expect the people to drop everything and do his bidding, if he doesn’t set them a good example with his own behavior.

    Questions: Are there colleagues, friends, and even family members, who don’t know God, but know that you are a Christian? In what ways do your life choices and general behavior reflect Jesus to other people?

    3. When God Asks You To Be a Spectator, Not An Instrument (2 Chronicles 20:17)

    God informs Jehoshaphat and the Judeans that they will not be participants in the battle against the Moabites, Ammonites, and the Meunites.

    Questions: Have you ever borne witness to an event that God has orchestrated which concerned you, but that you weren’t involved in? What was the outcome?

    4. Step Out in Faith (2 Chronicles 20:20)

    Jehoshaphat and his people find tremendous comfort in God’s assurance of His help and victory in the upcoming battle. However, in order to see this victory materialize, the Judeans still need to step out in faith – which in this case means literally stepping out onto the battlefield with no intention of fighting.

    Questions: Can you recall a time when you stepped out in faith, before you knew of the outcome? What does 2 Corinthians 5:7 mean to you in your faith walk?

    Photo by Hannah Busing on Unsplash

    3. Praise and Worship

    2 Chronicles 20 provides excellent examples of the importance of praise and worship, and consequently, the power of God which can be unleashed as a result of it.

    As a reaction to the favorable response that God gives them to their prayer petition, “Jehoshaphat bowed down with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before the Lord, worshiping the Lord” (2 Chronicles 20:18).

    Additionally, when the Judeans see the Moabites, Ammonites, and Meunites advancing towards them on the battlefield, their counterreaction is to send singers ahead of their army, who praise and worship God. As a result, the Lord brings confusion into the enemy camp, and the triune enemy consequently turn on each other and destroy themselves (2 Chronicles 20:21-23).

    Such is the power of praise and worship!

    How to Implement Praise and Worship in Your Bible Study Group

    You can start off your Bible Study session by each member of the group expressing gratitude to God for something that He did for them that week. 

    Following that, you can play some worship music and sing.  If someone in the group plays an instrument, it can be used as a musical accompaniment. Together with a tambourine, you have the making of a great worship session!  

    Alternatively, you could play worship songs from the internet or a CD. 

    We also have a ready-made list of worship songs available to you at a mouse click on Spotify.

    Photo by Arthur Miranda on Unsplash

    4. Suggested Reading

    Reading the Word of God not only teaches us about how much God loves us, it gives us guidelines on how to live the life He wants us to live – a life of victory and joy. 

    The following is reading material that relates to the themes we have been discussing in 2 Chronicles 20. 

    Scriptures:

    Do not Fear

    Psalm 112:7

    Isaiah 41:10

    Hebrews 13:5 (AMPC)

    Psalm 56:11

    Seek God in Prayer

    Philippians 4:6-7

    1 Thessalonians 5:17

    Having God-given Confidence

    Joshua 1:9

    Deuteronomy 28:13

    Numbers 23:19

    Isaiah 54:10

    2 Timothy 1:7

    Praise and Worship

    Psalm 100:4 

    Psalm 29:2 

    Revelation 4:11 

    2 Samuel 6:5

    Interesting Online Articles Relating to 2 Chronicles 20:

    www.blog.bible, “What is Courage: Self-Confidence or God-Confidence?”, Ann-Margret Hovsepian.

    www.www.christianity.com, “What Is the Power of Prayer?”, Heather Riggleman.

    www.thelife.com, “Praising God in Hard Times: Praise is Possible”, Ebony Murdoch.

    www.jacobsladderblog.com, “My Soul Will Be Still, For the Lord is In Control”, Madeline Kalu.

    Inspirational Quotes Relating to 2 Chronicles 20:

    “Meet your fears with faith.” Max Lucado

    “With the power of God within us, we need never fear the powers around us.” Woodrow Kroll

    “Praise and worship is such a powerful device to dismantle every shackle, and it’s able to break down every wall.” Euginia Herlihy

    “It is one thing to believe in God; it is quite another thing to believe God.” R.C. Sproul

    “Great moves of God are usually preceded by simple acts of obedience.” Pastor Steven Furtick

    Photo by Alexandra Fuller on Unsplash

    5. Journal Writing

    Writing down all the good things that God has done in your life is a very powerful tool for a Christian. Not only does it help us to remember what God has done for us; reading over God’s past victories and blessings over you provide encouragement and empowerment in times of trouble. All you need to start is an empty exercise book and a pen. Alternatively, you can keep a digital journal.   

    There are a number of forms of journals, where regular writing in it will strengthen you in your walk with God:   

    • A testimony journal   
    •  A dreams and visions journal   
    •  A blessings journal   
    •  My favorite –  a gratitude journal   

    Try to write once a day in your journal. All you need is 5-10 min to jot down everything good that has happened to you during the course of your day, no matter how trivial.    

    Meditate upon what you wrote, and acknowledge that it is God who was responsible for these good things happening today, and not you or your own works.    

     ‘”Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,” says the Lord Almighty.’   

    Zechariah 4:6 (NIV)   

    Journaling in Your Group:

    You can e.g. allot 10-15min for journaling in your group, and afterwards share your written thoughts with each other.   

    An alternate suggestion is to incorporate journal writing as part of your quiet time with God, then discuss your results when you meet as a group.  

    Journaling on 2 Chronicles 20

    1. In 2 Chronicles 20:12, Jehoshaphat ends his prayer by stating, “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”

    Are you currently in the midst of a challenging situation, or are being confronted by adversity? Using 20 Chronicles 20:12 as a reference, what measures can you take to switch your focus off your troubles, and instead, place your eyes on God?

    2. Are there any particular Christian songs, gospel music, or hymns that encourage you and lift your spirits when you play them? Write three of them down in your journal and give a brief description about why they resonate with you.

    3. Write down 6 points that you learnt from 2 Chronicles 20, using Bible verses from the chapter as references.

    Photo by fotografierende on Unsplash

    6. Prayer

    The following prayer is based on the lessons of 2 Chronicles 20. It can be spoken aloud over yourself, or read together in a group capacity.

    Prayer:

    Wonderful Lord, Precious Father,

    We thank You that You are our help in times of trouble, our rock on which we can stand on, and the lifter of our heads. You command us with Your loving kindness in the day, and at night Your song is with us to comfort us. You will never fail us, nor forsake us.

    Lord, as You know, my circumstances are pressing around me like a vice. Tendrils of fear and worry threaten to choke me, but l will not succumb to their advances, nor will l brood and sweat over finding a solution in my own strength.

    Instead, l will lift my eyes to You. I will cast my cares at Your throne, and make my requests known to You with praise and thanksgiving. I will trust and rely on You, because l know of Your unconditional love for me.

    Great are Your works Lord, and many are the miracles that You perform. What looks impossible for me, is possible with You.

    And while l wait on You Lord, l will praise You. I will lift my hands up and thank the One, who gave me breath, who saved my life, and who sets my feet on a straight and direct path. For what would become of me Lord, if l would not experience Your goodness in this world?

    Father, help me to encounter You in new and deeper ways. Teach me how to walk in Your truths. Show me how l can be more like You, so that others may see You in me, and yearn to know and love You, like l do.

    In Jesus’ name,

    Amen.

    Photo by Junior REIS on Unsplash

    We hope that you have enjoyed our Bible study on 2 Chronicles 20 in our  Jacob’s Ladder Bible Studies series.

    We look forward to you joining us for next Bible Study. Until then, be safe, and may God’s love and blessings be upon you!  

    Madeline Kalu

    Co-Founder of Jacob’s Ladder Blog

    Sources:

    www.bibleodyssey.org, “Ahab”, David Bokovoy.

    www.hillsdalefmc.net, “Guilt by Association” – 2 Chronicles 19”, Hillsdale Free Methodist Church.

    christianity.com, “What Is the Power of Prayer?”, Heather Riggleman.

    churchofjesuschrist.org, “10 Meaningful Benefits of Prayer”

    desiringgod.org, “Why Do Christians Fast?”, John Piper.

    justdisciple.com, “Top 15 Questions on Christian Fasting – Answered”, Nadia Thomas.

    soveryblessed.com, “9 Bible Verses on Fasting”, Becky.

    justdisciple.com, “Types of Christian Fasting and What’s Right for You”, Julia Oates.

    worthbeyondrubies.com, “Jesus the Bridegroom and the Ancient Jewish Wedding”, Diane Shirlaw-Ferreira.

    bloggersforthekingdom.com, “3 Powerful Ways to Step Out in Faith When God Nudges You”, LeeAnn.

    abarim-publications.com, “Meunites meaning“

    biblicalarchaeology.org, “Who Were the Ammonites, Moabites and Edomites in the Bible?”

    enduringword.com, “2 Chronicles 20 – Jehoshaphat’s Victory”

    biblicaltraining.org,“Meunites”

    desiringgod.org“What Does It Mean to Seek the Lord?”, John Piper.

    bible.org, “Lesson 7: The Man Who Won a War Without Fighting (2 Chronicles 20:1-30)”

    gotquestions.org, “Who was the Asaph mentioned in the Book of Psalms?”

    studylight.org,“Matthew Henry’s Complete Commentary on the Bible – 2 Chronicles 20”

    thelampstand.com., “Tarshish, Cornwall, and Tin and Gold Trade in the Ancient World”

    bible.org, “Lesson 4: Confidence in The Crisis (2 Chronicles 20:1-30)”

    christianity.com, “Matthew Henry Bible Commentary (complete)”

    forgodsfame.org“The Prayer of Jehoshaphat”, Tim Bell.


    Share and Encourage Others
  • Articles

    7 Ways to Honor God on Your Wedding Day

    Share and Encourage Others

    Written by Madeline Kalu

    Disclaimer: The post contains affiliate links. If you use these links to buy something, l may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products that l would use myself.

    Getting married is a monumental experience. Exchanging vows with someone you love before God and your gathered assembly is not only a covenantal agreement of commitment, it is a true declaration of loyalty, and of course, the ultimate expression of love.

    Therefore, on the day you stand at the altar with the love of your life, what better way to commemorate the One who brought you together, by placing Him in the center of your wedding day, and by extension, your married life?

    The following are 7 ways that you can honor God on your wedding day.

    1. Announce Your Nuptials With Scripture-Based Wedding Stationery

    Announce your betrothal and later on, your wedding, with stationery that has your favorite Bible verse printed on it. Not only is this a great way to give testimony that God is the center of your proposed union, it lets your guests know that they will be attending a Christian wedding.

    Song of Solomon 3:4 Engagement/Wedding Card www.faithlovelifedesigns.etsy.com

    2. Include Bible Verses in Your Wedding Decorations

    Having Bible verses as a part of your wedding decorations not only personalizes your wedding theme, it is an outward declaration to God and your guests of how much you honor Him and that you are grateful for His grace and mercy in your lives.

    You can place Bible verses on wedding signs, in wedding favors, bride’s and bridesmaid’s bouquets, and even on your wedding cake topper!

    Hang Scripture signs around your venue, including along the wedding aisle or use them as part of your table decor. You can also place soft furnishings such as pillows with Bible verse prints around your venue to make it more cosy.

    Photo by Skye Studios on Unsplash

    3. Follow Christian Wedding Traditions

    There are numerous wedding traditions that have Christian origins that many of us accept as standard. These include the groom entering the church first, the bride wearing white and a veil, the exchange of rings and vows, a cross at the altar, just to mention a few.

    However, there are other traditions that you can include in your wedding ceremony which glorify God and outwardly declare that you and your spouse-to-be place Him in the center of your relationship.

    Use a personalized Wedding Bible During the Ceremony

    In order to make the wedding ceremony more personal for you and your betrothed and to further honor God’s presence in your relationship, you can use a Wedding Bible for the nuptials that you can have your names printed on.

    After the ceremony, you can leave your Wedding Bible out for your guests to sign and to highlight their favorite passages.

    Best of all, your Wedding Bible can be used as your family Bible in your marital home, and you can add the names of your children, their spouses, and your grandchildren to it!

    Tie a Cord of Three Strands

    During your ceremony, you can perform the ritual of the cord of three strands or “God’s Knot”, which reflects Ecclesiastes 4:12.

    The couple braids three ropes during the ceremony, which symbolizes the bride, groom, and God. After the wedding day, the braided rope can be simultaneously used as decor in the couple’s marital home, as well as to serve as a reminder of the their unbreakable union with God.

    Have the Congregation Lay Hands on You

    During the ceremony, the pastor may request that the assembled guests stretch their hand towards the wedding couple and bow their heads in communal prayer, in order to bless them and their union. The congregation may even rise and encircle the bridal couple and lay hands on them whilst praying for them.

    Wash Each Other’s Feet

    Just as Jesus washed His disciples feet in John 13:1-17, so too, can the wedding couple wash each other’s feet during their nuptials as an expression of humility and a desire to serve and love one another during their marriage.

    Light a Unity Candle

    Although there is no mention of this in the Bible, having the bride and groom use individual candle tapers to light a unity candle is used in some Christian ceremonies to symbolize the union of two individuals becoming one entity.

    Similarly, the unity sand ceremony can also be performed to the same effect. Both the bride and groom pour small vessels of sand into a larger vessel. If the sand used is colored, the result is a two-toned layer look, which accentuates the symbolism of unity.

    Photo by Samantha Gades on Unsplash

    4. Play Christian Music

    It is a given that a Christian wedding ceremony includes hymns, gospel music, or even contemporary Christian music. Singing and praising God through music is a wonderful way to honor Him, especially in the presence of your wedding guests (Hebrews 2:12).

    You can extend your worship of God by playing Christian music softly in the background during cocktail hour and even during the reception. Hire a Christian band, who can play a mix of wedding favorites as well as worship songs. You can also have a moment during the reception to collectively sing a worship song or a hymn.

    Photo by Mitchell Orr on Unsplash

    5. Have Your Guests Share their Favorite Scriptures

    Similarly to your Wedding Bible, invite your guests to write their favorite Bible verse in your Guest Book along with their names.

    This is a wonderful way to include your friends and loved ones in blessing your union, as well as giving them a way to give a testimony of how God has worked in their lives.

    Photo by Miriam G on Unsplash

    6. Give Your Bridal Party Scripture-Engraved Gifts

    Providing your bridesmaids and groomsmen with gifts is not only a great way to say thank you for their friendship and support, it is an act that unifies and creates lifelong memories of your happy day.

    One way to share your love of Christ with your bridal party is to have your favorite Bible verse engraved on jewelry, which they can continue to wear long after your wedding.

    Bridesmaid’s will be thrilled to receive rings, earrings, or bracelets.

    Pendants, dog tags, rings make great gifts for groomsmen.

    For the mother-of-the-bride or mother-of-the-groom, a thank you prayer makes a lovely gift, which she can hang in her home.

    For the father-of-the-bride or father-of-the-groom, a pair of Bible verse cuff links is a gift he will definitely cherish!

    Photo by Constantin Panagopoulos on Unsplash

    7. Send Scripture-Inspired Thank You Cards

    After your wedding day has come and gone, it is time to show gratitude to the people who God surrounded you with to spend your special day.

    Why not send Thank You Cards with your favorite Bible Verse printed on them? Not only does it show your guests how grateful you are that God brought them into your life, it is a great source of encouragement and brings joy to those who receive your correspondence.

    Alternatively, you can also place an additional Scripture card in your envelope.

    We hope that our post gave you inspiration on how you can honor the Lord on your wedding day. We at Jacob’s Ladder wish you all the best on your nuptials and may the Lord continue to bless you and your spouse on your life adventure together!

    Sources:

    www.weddingbee.com, “4 Christian Wedding Traditions for Your Ceremony”, Chantal Donnan.

    www.brides.com, “10 Christain Wedding Ceremony Traditions You Need to Know”, Sarah Zlotnick.

    www.susanshek.com, “12 Essential Christian Wedding Traditions”, Susah Shek.


    Share and Encourage Others
  • Jacob's Ladder Bible Studies

    Part Two: Jacob’s Ladder Bible Study on 2 Chronicles 20

    Share and Encourage Others

    Praise God in the Storm:

    How to Experience Peace and Gratitude Amidst Adversity

    Jacob's Ladder Blog official logo

    Part Two: Living God’s Word 

    Applying 2 Chronicles 20 to everyday life

    Last month, we started Part 1 of our Bible Study series on 2 Chronicles 20 titled “Confronting a Crisis with God-given Confidence”, where we analyzed the biblical account of King Jehoshaphat of Judah’s triumph over a triple enemy threat through God’s divine intervention and his trusting of the Lord.

    Aware that he was unable to ensure the survival of his people by his own strength, Jehoshaphat fasted and sought the Lord and encouraged the rest of Judah to do so. The reassurance and encouragement they received from God gave Jehoshaphat and his people tremendous peace, God-given confidence, and faith to face their enemy on the battlefield, whilst praising Him in advance for a victory unseen, yet promised by God.

    Trials and tribulations are unfortunately a certainty in this world (John 16:33). However, we do not need to live in fear and worry when confronted with challenging circumstances. Instead, we can do what Jehoshaphat and the Judeans did and be encouraged by God’s promises of deliverance, which will increase our faith and bring us tremendous peace, independent of how our current situation appears.

    In Part 2 of our Bible Study, we want to explore how we can apply the lessons of 2 Chronicles 20 to our own lives; in particular, how we can praise God in the storm, experience peace amidst adversity, and show gratitude for the victories that He gives us.

    Seek God in Times of Times of Trouble

    As we stated in our introduction, we all have trials and tribulations to contend with. Jehoshaphat’s adversity came in the form of a military threat from the Moabites, the Ammonites, and the Meunites. Today, our “ites” may take the form of sickness, financial issues, unemployment, fertility problems, or a family feud, just to name a few.

    When such problems arise, it is perfectly normal to feel afraid and worried: Fear was also Jehoshaphat’s initial reaction after receiving the intelligence that the enemy triune was about to strike.

    However, we need to remember that we have a Sovereign God, whom we can call on for help in our time of need. Our strength and abilities are finite, but God’s power and might are infinite.

    Therefore, like Jehoshaphat, we must determinedly push our fears aside, take our eyes of our current trouble, and instead, lift our eyes to God and seek Him (2 Chronicles 20:3). In His presence, we can present our petitions to Him.

    How do we seek God’s presence?

    We can do this by praying and fasting, both of which we will now look at more closely.

    Photo by Timothy Eberly on Unsplash

    The Power of Prayer

    Prayer is an essential practice of a believer’s walk with God. It is a communication with our Father that is simultaneously an act of worship. By reverently seeking God and expressing our needs, sharing our worries, and giving our thanks, we are acknowledging that He is our Provider, our Healer, and our Shepherd, who guides us through the hills and valleys of life.

    Prayer gives us peace when we are anxious and fortifies us with strength when confronted with trials. Praying also helps us to know God on a deeper level, which assists us in aligning His will to our lives. It invites the Holy Spirit to intercede in our daily decisions, as well as comfort us when we need support.

    Prayer involves not only us talking, but also listening for the answers that God provides to our prayer requests. For that reason, it is always useful to have a writing pad and a pen handy, when praying.

    As we can see in 2 Chronicles 20:15-17, prayer instigates miracles. Not only, did Jehoshaphat and the people of Judea receive consolation from God in response to the threat upon their lives, but God promised them that He would fight their enemies for them and prevail.

    Of course, God can work miracles even when we don’t pray. However, it is evident that many biblical miracles are a direct result of prayer. For example, in John 11:41-42, Jesus prayed to His Father at Lazarus’ tomb and the latter was consequently resurrected. In Daniel 6:19-22, God not only saved Daniel from being eaten by lions, but King Darius of Babylon issued a royal decree that his people should honor God Daniel 6:25-27.

    There is no doubt that there is power in prayer – Jesus confirms this  in Matthew 18:18-20:

    Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. 

    For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”

    God loves it when we talk to Him through prayer. You don’t need to mechanically recite some rote-learned text or be anxious about saying “the right thing”. Instead, God wants us to talk to Him from the heart with thanksgiving:

    „Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

    Philippians 4:6

    Just like you talk confidently and trustingly to your biological father, in the same way you can talk to God. After all, He is our spiritual Father!

    Additionally, we can take Jehoshaphat’s prayer to God in 2 Chronicles 20:5-12 as inspiration for how we can structure our own prayers. We examined Jehoshaphat’s prayer in Part 1 of our Bible Study on 2 Chronicles 20, however here is a short break-down of it:

    1. Acknowledgement of God’s Sovereign power

    2. Remind God of His help in the past

    3. God’s presence is holy and a place where you’re confident He will answer your prayers 

    4. Express your needs to God

    5. Thank God in advance for His help and vindication

    6. Worship God with praise and thanksgiving, while you wait for His response.

    Photo by Samuel Martins on Unsplash

    The Question About Fasting

    Fasting is a practice, which can propagate revelation, instill humility, and forge a deeper relationship with God. In 2 Chronicles 20:3, Jehoshaphat proclaimed a nation-wide feast in Judah before seeking God’s help in prayer. Consequently, Jehoshaphat and his people received God’s promise of victory from Judah’s enemies, which fortified the Judean’s faith.

    Despite the testimony of 2 Chronicles 20 and other biblical accounts, fasting remains a topic that some Christians remain unsure about. Therefore, let’s begin by defining what fasting is.

    What is Fasting?

    Fasting is a temporary abstinence from food or something we particularly enjoy doing, in order to take the focus of ourselves and instead, place our attention on God.

    Whereas we eat food out of hunger, we convert that physical hunger into a spiritual hunger that promotes spiritual growth and deepens our relationship with God. Fasting is a personal sacrifice that expresses our heartfelt subservience and reverence for our Lord.

    It is designed to stretch us, and at the same time, bring revelation of God’s workings in our lives. Additionally, fasting shows God how much we need Him and that we trust Him first and foremost.

    Why Do Christians Fast?

    Christians fast for many reasons. Some fast regularly as part of their faith practice, others fast when seeking the Holy Spirit’s guidance (Acts 13:2-3), or when they plead for God’s intervention, such as Jehoshaphat and the Judeans did in 2 Chronicles 20:3. Others fast for healing (2 Samuel 12:16-17) or as an act of repentance (Jonah 3:3-5), and much more.

    Fasting also helps you to unbind yourself from the factors that tie you to this world; therefore, some believers fast in order to break spiritual bonds in their lives such as addiction, pornography, or illness.

    Fasting in Preparation for the Bridegroom to Return

    In Luke 5:33-39, Jesus tells the Pharisees a parable about fasting in the form of a wedding where He is the bridegroom. When the bridegroom is present, the wedding guests honor Him with merrymaking. You cannot expect the guests to fast during a celebration! In this way, we have experienced the ministry of Jesus on earth and have rejoiced in His presence.

    However, the Bridegroom must go away to prepare a place for us (John 14:3), but will return for His bride. In Hebrew, the word for bride is “Kallah”, and is referring to the Bride of Christ, which is the church, of which Jesus is the cornerstone (Ephesians 2:19-20).

    We as believers are the Church – we are the Bride of Christ (2 Corinthians 11.2)!

    Therefore, in the same way a bride waits longingly for her groom and prepares herself for his return, so too, do we spiritually prepare ourselves in joyous expectation for Jesus’ return to earth by fasting.

    Do Christians Have to Fast?

    So, now that we have established what fasting is, the next question is, “Do l have to fast as a believer of Christ?”

    What is important to remember is that God loves us unconditionally. His love for you is not based on how much you read your Bible, how often you pray, or whether you choose to fast or not. He loves you because you are His child, and there is nothing that you can do or can’t do that will cause Him to take that love away from you (Romans 8:38-39).

    God wants us to live an abundant life (John 10:10). For that reason, He has provided us with teachings and guidelines in the form of the Bible, that are designed to give us joy, promote productivity, give us spiritual victory, and deepen our relationship with Him. Fasting is one of those teachings that God encourages us to do in order to experience all this and more.

    For that reason, Jesus preached on the topic of fasting in Matthew 6:16-18 by using the conjunction “when” you fast, instead of “if” you fast.

    Therefore, if you haven’t tried fasting before, it is worth trying it, for what you gain from it exceeds the temporary discomfort of abstinence.

    What if Health Issues Prevent Me from Fasting?

    If you’re unable to abstain from food due to health reasons, you can still fast by renouncing something temporarily which distracts you from spending time with God, such as social media or watching TV.

    How long you fast for is something you should ask God in prayer, especially if it is food related. You don’t want to harm your body by depriving it too long of nourishment,  especially fluids. Fasting also doesn’t need to be for the duration of an entire day/days: You can choose to fast for a few hours in the mornings for a few days, which is akin to missing out on a meal.

    Are There Different Types of Fasts?

    There are different types of fasts one can do which are biblical based. If you’re interested in learning more about them, this article should prove quite useful for you and also entails some great tips on how to fast.

    Photo by Tim Wildsmith on Unsplash

    Step Out in Faith

    As part of His assurance of victory against the upcoming enemy invasion, God declared to Jehoshaphat and his people that they would not be participating in the battle themselves. Rather, God would be fighting for them (2 Chronicles 20:17).

    However, in order to see this promise materialize, the Judeans still needed to stand on the battlefield and face their enemy. This required them to step out in faith – literally – and march to the end of the valley at the Ascent of Ziz, where the battle was to take place. It must have been a difficult task for a skilled army to step onto a battlefield without the intention of warring – most likely they weren’t even carrying weapons. However, God kept His promise and gave the Judeans victory without them losing a single drop of blood (2 Chronicles 20:24).

    2 Corinthians 5:7 states the importance of putting our faith in God over that which is tangible or adheres to human logic:

    “For we walk by faith, not by sight.”

    Hebrews 11:1 also defines faith as a conviction that is based on our trust in God, rather than what we can see:

    “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

    Stepping out in faith when we don’t know the outcome of a situation is certainly not an easy thing to do, but it is a heart attitude that instigates a victorious Christian life. For when we stop relying on our own capabilities, on other people, and even on institutions, and instead trust God, we can be confident that He is solving our problems and taking care of what matters most to us, which frees us to live a peaceful, joyful, and fulfilled life.

    There are times when we do step out in faith and suddenly become afraid and lose our confidence in God – that is human nature. However, rest assured, when those times occur, God is always there to catch us.

    That’s what Jesus did for Peter when he stepped out of a boat during a storm and walked on water towards Jesus in Matthew 14:28-29. Suddenly intimidated by the strong winds, Peter began to sink and called out to Jesus, “Lord, save me!” (Matthew 14:30). Jesus immediately responded by stretching out His hand and catching him.

    How can you step out in faith? By recognizing what fears you, and handing it over to God (1 Peter 5:7). Having done that, surrender the outcome to Him and trust that He will turn whatever is against you and make it work out for your good (Romans 8:28). And in the meantime, live your life and enjoy the daily blessings that God gives you: your family, enjoying a laugh with friends, the smell of freshly mown grass, or that first morning cup of freshly brewed coffee!

    Therefore, take an example from Jehoshaphat and the Judeans and step out of your comfort zone. It doesn’t matter if you don’t see how your situation is going to work out; instead, trust that God already has a plan for you that He will bring to fruition, for He is the only One, who can make the impossible, possible (Matthew 19:26)!

    Photo by Alex Radelich on Unsplash

    Worship While You Wait

    In a Bible Study group l attended once, a lady was asked what she does after she prays.

    “I wait”, she answered.

    This response resonated with me. I don’t know about you, but sometimes l get caught up in my pray petitions: I keep praying and asking and thanking God, however, l don’t sit back and expectantly watch out for Him to answer my prayers.

    Since applying this wisdom into my own prayer practices, l have not only developed patience in trusting God’s timing over my own, but l have also experienced another facet of my relationship with God: That He encourages me, consoles me, and teaches me to rely on Him in that interim period between my petitions and their manifestations.

    Furthermore, in order to deepen my relationship with God in my waiting period, l take inspiration from Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah by worshiping and praising Him:

    “Then Jehoshaphat bowed down with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before the Lord, worshiping the Lord. And the Levites, of the Kohathites and the Korahites, stood up to praise the Lord, the God of Israel, with a very loud voice.”

    2 Chronicles 20:18-19

    How do l worship and praise God? I put on worship music and sing and dance loudly around my home. I even march around clapping my hands and praising God verbally for all that He has done and will do, just like l can imagine how Jehoshaphat and his people did on the battlefield:

    When he had taken counsel with the people, he appointed those who were to sing to the Lord and praise him in holy splendor, as they went before the army, saying,

    ‘Give thanks to the Lord,
        for his steadfast love endures forever.’”

    2 Chronicles 20:21

    If you want to find peace and deepen your reliance on God with the outcome and timing of your prayers, I suggest that you try worshiping Him while you wait. It is also proves to be a powerful ignition to set supernatural events in motion. When the Judeans started worshiping God on the battlefield, the triune enemy turned on themselves and destroyed each other!

    „As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set an ambush against the Ammonites, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah, so that they were routed. For the Ammonites and Moab attacked the inhabitants of Mount Seir, destroying them utterly; and when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, they all helped to destroy one another.”

    2 Chronicles 20:22-23

    Photo by Edward Cisneros on Unsplash

    God Fights Your Battles

    When confronted with a difficult situation, we often go into combat mode.

    Our battle mindset is initiated by fear, which turns into worry. In response, we retreat into our mental war room to strategize how we are going to solve our problem. Our minds grind and groan under the stress of testing out possible scenarios, all of which are unpredictable in their outcome, due to our subjective and limited understanding of the situation.

    Once we have settled upon what we believe to be the best possible tactic, we plunge into a course of action in the desperate hope that our plotting and planning will work out.

    However, what if l told you that God has promised us that He will fight our battles for us?

    What if l told you, that He encourages us – nay, commands us – to rest, while He takes on that which has come against us?

    Look at what Exodus 14:14 states:

    “The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace and remain at rest.”

    I have chosen the AMPC version specifically, as it illustrates beautifully how God assures us that we can be at peace and rest, while He fights for us. This means, that we can let go of worry and fear, and say goodbye to the mental carousel of planning and plotting that keeps us up at night.

    Instead, we can enjoy a peaceful, worry-free life, being confident in God that He is working in our situation and is offering a solution, which is better than anything we could have ever dreamed of achieving with our own finite capabilities.

    The people of Judah experienced this promise from God in 2 Chronicles 20:17:

    “This battle is not for you to fight; take your position, stand still, and see the victory of the Lord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, and the Lord will be with you.”

    What a relief for the Judeans to know that not only was their survival assured, but God was going to fight their enemy on their behalf without any fear of bloodshed or loss of life! How at loss for words they must have felt, and how grateful!

    Photo by GR Stocks on Unsplash

    Go Get Your Blessings

    When the people of Judah arrived to the place where their enemy had fallen, there awaited them “livestock in great numbers, goods, clothing, and precious things, which they took for themselves until they could carry no more” 2 Chronicles 20:25. In fact, there were so many spoils to be taken, that the Judeans needed 3 days to move the entire loot back to Jerusalem!

    In the same way, God is preparing blessings for us; however, we need to do our part and go get them.

    In the Judean’s case, this meant literally stepping out in faith onto a battle they were instructed to not participate in. In our case, it may mean starting that side business from home, asking that girl to marry you, or answering a call to ministry that God has laid on your heart.

    God get your blessings!

    Keep Honoring God After The Victory

    After God has answered our call for help, it is important that we keep on honoring Him.

    Firstly, we must remember to thank God for all that He has made possible. In Luke 17:11-19, Jesus healed 10 lepers on His way to Jerusalem, however only one of them returned to thank Him.

    Let us not be like the 9, who didn’t offer their gratitude!

    Judah knew the importance of giving continual thanks. After they had claimed their war booty, Jehoshaphat and the entire nation entered Jerusalem with musical fanfare, and headed straight to the temple to show further gratitude to the Lord for His help and victory.

    Secondly, we need to keep remembering God’s past acts of goodness, even after our immediate threat has passed. If we don’t, we can forget the mercy and might of God and return to worrying and becoming fearful when the next challenge arises, which it unfortunately inevitably will.  We might also start to rely on our own abilities instead of seeking the One whose abilities supersede ours, which can lead to unwise decisions and unwanted consequences.

    Jehoshaphat experienced this for himself in 2 Chronicles 20:35-37, when he attempted another ungodly alliance with Ahab through his son and successor, King Ahaziah of Israel. The two entered a partnership to build ships for trade in Tarshish. Fortunately, Jehoshaphat heeded the advice of the prophet Eliezer, and he withdrew from the agreement, for God destroyed all of the ships.

    The Israelites who entered into the land of Canaan knew the importance of remembering God’s previous miracles and acts of provision. After God had taken them safely across the Jordan river, they collected 12 stones from the waters to represent the 12 tribes of Israel. On the Canaan side of the Jordan river, in Gilgal, the Israelites set up these 12 stones as a memorial for future generations to remember how the Lord dried up the Red Sea and the Jordan river for them to cross into the Promised Land, as well as serve as a constant reminder of His power and might.

    So, how can we remember God’s past acts of goodness and provision?

    In our family, we keep a “Miracle Book”, which is a journal where we record all the acts of goodness that God has done in our lives. For further suggestions, click here to read an article we wrote on this topic.

    You can also set up your own memorial stones by collecting stones from the beach or the forest and placing them on your windowsill or any other visible place in your home.

    Photo by Lisa Zoe on Unsplash

    We hope you enjoyed reading Part 2 of our Bible Study on 2 Chronicles 20, and that it gave you some revelation on how to apply the biblical lessons of this chapter into your everyday lives.

    Next month, we will be posting our third and final part of our Bible Study, where we delve even deeper into the biblical themes discussed in Parts One and Two for private or group study purposes.

    So, stay tuned for that!

    If, in the meantime, you haven’t yet read Part 1 of our Bible Study on 2 Chronicles 20,  you can read it here.

    Stay safe and blessed!

    Madeline Kalu is a Christian writer and the co-founder of Jacob’s Ladder Blog and Faith Love Life Designs. She was born in England, was raised in Australia, and currently lives in Germany with her husband, Solomon.

    Madeline is in recovery from burnout, chronic depression, and anxiety. She believes that God can take life’s adversities and work them out for His good; hence, she uses her writing voice to raise awareness of mental illness, as well as to spread the light of God’s love to those who are mentally trapped in the dark, and provide them with hope and encouragement.

    Sources:

    christianity.com, “What Is the Power of Prayer?”, Heather Riggleman.

    churchofjesuschrist.org, “10 Meaningful Benefits of Prayer”

    desiringgod.org, “Why Do Christians Fast?”, John Piper.

    justdisciple.com, “Top 15 Questions on Christian Fasting – Answered”, Nadia Thomas.

    soveryblessed.com, “9 Bible Verses on Fasting”, Becky.

    justdisciple.com, “Types of Christian Fasting and What’s Right for You”, Julia Oates.

    worthbeyondrubies.com, “Jesus the Bridegroom and the Ancient Jewish Wedding”, Diane Shirlaw-Ferreira.

    bloggersforthekingdom.com, “3 Powerful Ways to Step Out in Faith When God Nudges You”, LeeAnn.

    abarim-publications.com, “Meunites meaning“

    biblicalarchaeology.org, “Who Were the Ammonites, Moabites and Edomites in the Bible?”

    enduringword.com, “2 Chronicles 20 – Jehoshaphat’s Victory”

    biblicaltraining.org, “Meunites”

    desiringgod.org“What Does It Mean to Seek the Lord?”, John Piper.

    bible.org, “Lesson 7: The Man Who Won a War Without Fighting (2 Chronicles 20:1-30)”

    gotquestions.org, “Who was the Asaph mentioned in the Book of Psalms?”

    studylight.org, “Matthew Henry’s Complete Commentary on the Bible – 2 Chronicles 20”

    thelampstand.com., “Tarshish, Cornwall, and Tin and Gold Trade in the Ancient World”

    bible.org, “Lesson 4: Confidence in The Crisis (2 Chronicles 20:1-30)”

    christianity.com, “Matthew Henry Bible Commentary (complete)”

    forgodsfame.org“The Prayer of Jehoshaphat”, Tim Bell.


    Share and Encourage Others
  • Jacob's Ladder Bible Studies

    Part 1: Jacob’s Ladder Bible Study on 2 Chronicles 20

    Share and Encourage Others

    Confronting a Crisis with God-given Peace and Confidence

    Part 1: Understanding God’s Word

    Bible Commentary on 2 Chronicles 20

    When l first gave my life to the Lord, one of my mentor’s told me about the victory of King Jehoshaphat against a triple enemy attack on his kingdom of Judah.

    After reading the chapter myself, what resonated with me was the heart attitude that Jehoshaphat displayed in seeking the Lord despite his personal fears, as well as entreating his people to trust Him as well. Jehoshaphat’s praise of God on the battlefield taught me the importance of thanking God in advance for His victories and to always step out in faith, even when the presence of trouble and strife are determined to convince you of defeat.

    Additionally, the peace that Jehoshaphat and the Judeans experienced during this crisis gave me revelation that God is our calm during the storms of life. We can have the peace that Jesus offers us in the face of adversity (John 14:27), if we stop trying to fight with our own finite strength, and instead, let God fight for us with His infinite power.

    Lastly and most importantly, this biblical chapter taught me that God declares promises to His people and He keeps these promises – and more. God promised the people of Judah victory over the triune of enemies that were on the march to destroy them, and He delivered this promise to them, as well as blessing them with the rich spoils of their defeated enemies.

    We hope that the following analysis of 2 Chronicles 20 will encourage you to seek God when trouble arises, to trust Him with the outcome of your situation and to thank Him in advance for a favorable outcome.

    We also pray that you receive a revelation of the peace that Jesus offers us, secure in the knowledge that God keeps His promises of victory and blessings, even in the darkest of situations.

    Photo by Naassom Azevedo on Unsplash

    An Unexpected Military Assault Threatens the Future of Judah

    (2 Chronicles 20:1-2)

    2 Kings 20 begins with King Jehoshaphat, the ruler of Judah, receiving disturbing intelligence: the Moabites, the Ammonites, and the Meunites, who occupy territories to the west and south-west of Judah respectively, have formed a military coalition against Jehoshaphat and his people. In fact, they are already in the vicinity of Hazazon-tamar, having crossed the Dead Sea from Edom, and are ready to embark in battle against Judah.

    The Moabites and the Ammonites derived from the union of Lot with his two daughters (Genesis 19:37-38). The Meunites were the descendants of Meunim and occupied territory to the south-east of the Dead Sea on the eastern border of Edom. Though not Edomites, they were commonly identified as belonging to the latter, due to their cordial relations with each other.

    Map of Ancient Israel and Judah courtesy of bible-history.com

    Why this triune chose Judah as their target is unknown; however, the fact that they could creep up on Judah certainly indicates that the surrounding 10 tribes, who Jehoshaphat had helped in requiring Ramoth-Gilead, had betrayed their friendship to the Judean king and allowed this terrible threesome safe passage through their territories, in order that they may arrive unchallenged in Judah.

    Perhaps the reason for the neighboring nation’s betrayal was Jehoshaphat’s alliance through marriage to King Ahab of Israel in the north. Ahab and more so his wife, Jezebel, were infamous for their cruel leadership and idol worship. Jehoshaphat was essentially feared amongst his neighbors (2 Chronicles 17:10), however maybe entering into a closer association with Ahab had lessened the surrounding nation’s respect for him, and as a result, they grew bold in their attempts to destroy the Judean King, as they doubted whether God’s favor was still upon him. What is certain though, is that other tribes had joined the military axis to aid in the defeat of Judah (Psalm 83:6-8).

    Whatever the reason, the people of Judah are facing an unexpected crisis through a triple enemy threat. How they chose to respond will determine their survival.

    Seeking God’s Presence Amidst Fear

    (2 Chronicles 20:3-4)

    When Jehoshaphat receives the information that not only one army, but three armies and their auxiliaries are literally on his doorstop ready to attack, he is naturally afraid.

    Jehoshaphat’s fear may have been intensified due to the following reasons:

    •   He barely survived a battle to claim Ramoth-Gilead in which Ahab died, and is consequently aware of his own mortality.
    • Jehoshaphat is shocked that God allowed Judah to be threatened after he obediently implemented national reforms throughout the nation to bring the people back to God (2 Chronicles 19:4-11).

    Jehoshaphat’s initial reaction of fear is natural, especially as the threat to his kingdom is a complete sucker punch. However, what he does next is instrumental in determining the survival of Judah – he seeks God.

    Jehoshaphat deliberately turns his mind away from the imminent danger he is in, and instead, gives God his full attention and consideration – not only with his mind, but with his heart. Instead of seeking the counsel of his military advisors on how best to retaliate to the inevitable battle, he will ask for help from the Almighty Himself. His enemies may have formed an alliance against him, but Jehoshaphat knows that the most formidable ally he has is God.

    So great is Jehoshaphat’s determination in hearing from God, that he summons the entire nation of Judah together to seek God’s presence through prayer and fasting as a united front. As this crisis is one that involves all Judeans, it is only right that all residents of the kingdom should be involved in asking for God’s help. Having the people pray and fast together would also reinforce the spiritual teachings and reforms he had previously introduced in 2 Chronicles 19:4-11.

    Jehoshaphat’s request for a national appeal to God was unusual for a King to make in ancient times: The people would have been more accustomed to being summoned to mobilize themselves for war and not be summoned for the purpose of  prayer and fasting.

    This act demonstrates Jehoshaphat’s recognition of his limited human capabilities, as well as his humility and faith in seeking the One who has the divine power to deliver Judah from their enemies. Instead of feeling indignant or frustrated that God allowed this situation to occur, Jehoshaphat is going to approach God with sincerity, thanks and praise, which we will read in the upcoming verses.

    Pray First, Act Later

    (2 Chronicles 20: 5-12)

    We have established that Jehoshaphat’s recognition of Judah’s peril leads him to seek God before he takes any action. Therefore, instead of organizing his army, he organizes a time of national prayer and fasting in Jerusalem.

    The whole of Judah assembles in the temple to pray, in an area which some scholars believe to have been the women’s court. Although priests were the only ones permitted to burn incense and perform other sacramental duties, as a King, Jehoshaphat could pray and preach.

    Jehoshaphat’s prayer can be divided into 6 parts:

    1. Acknowledgement of God’s sovereign power (2 Chronicles 20:6)

    The Moabites, Ammonites, and surrounding nations such as the Philistines worshiped local deities. Jehoshaphat begins his prayer by giving praise to God and His almighty power, and acknowledges His supremacy over all other gods and nations, as well as His absolute sovereignty as the ruler of heaven and earth.

    2. Reminding God of His help in the past (2 Chronicles 20:7)

    Jehoshaphat reminds God of His help in freeing the Israelites from their enemies in the past, and His promise that Abraham’s descendants will continue to inherit the land He has given them. If God has helped His people before, Jehoshaphat is confident that He will help them again in their current hour of need.

    3. The temple is holy and a place where God answers prayers   (2 Chronicles 20:8-9)

    The temple grounds in Jerusalem have borne witness to many petitions and answered prayers in the past. King Solomon for example gave a prayer and dedication to the temple on the very same spot where Jehoshaphat is standing now (2 Chronicles 6:12-42), and God responded to him (2 Chronicles 7:1).

    Jehoshaphat wants to remind God that His people built the temple at His bequest as a place to not only worship Him, but to seek refuge and help in their times of need. As God answered the prayers of their predecessors, Jehoshaphat is  confident that God will answer Judah’s prayers in this holy place now.

    4. Jehoshaphat pleads vindication at the injustice of his enemies (2 Chronicles 20:10-11)

    When the Israelites entered the Promised Land after wandering 40 years in the desert, God forbade them from invading the territories of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir (Deuteronomy 2:8-9, Deuteronomy 2:19). Israel obeyed God and left these nations in peace.

    Now Jehoshaphat is reminding God of Israel’s former obedience and how it would be unjust of the enemy triune to be allowed to conquer them and take away the land, which God had promised would always be in their possession.

    5. Jehoshaphat expresses public humility and Judah’s need for God (2 Chronicles 20:12)

    As a typical ancient King of the Near East, Jehoshaphat is looked up to and viewed as a role model and source of inspiration by his people. Maintaining a public image as a fearless, formidable leader was imperative in those times for upholding the respect of their allies and arousing fear in their enemies. It was also politically advantageous for a king to always present his most courageous, positive side to his people.

    However, Jehoshaphat openly and publicly admits his fear in this last part of his appeal to God. Although he is a king and is expected to have a solution to their predicament, he is not ashamed to confess, that this time, he doesn’t know what to do. Jehoshaphat’s fear that God might not answer if he doesn’t go all in with this prayer is greater than what his people think of him.

    Though Jehoshaphat doesn’t know how to save his nation, he knows that God and God alone can deliver them from this crisis. Therefore, all of Judah will look to God and put their faith and trust in Him for a favorable outcome.

    6. Worship God while you wait (2 Chronicles 20:13, 2 Chronicles 20:18-19)

    After Jehoshaphat finishes praying, the gathered assembly wait for God to answer, including the women and children. It is not certain how long they have to wait, but it appears that God answers the people quite promptly.

    Even after God replies to their petition, the people of Judah worship Him as they wait for the manifestation of His promises, which we will read about in the upcoming sections.

    Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

    God Commands Judah to Trust Him and Not Fight

    (2 Chronicles 20:13-17)

    God answers Jehoshaphat’s prayer through Jahaziel, who is one of the sons of Asaph, a guild of Levites assigned to sing in the tabernacle choir. It is not certain whether Jahaziel is a validated prophet, nor why he is chosen amongst those gathered to speak, yet the Spirit of the Lord comes upon him and he relays a heartening, yet unexpected response from God.

    Firstly, God consoles His people that the battle they are about to experience belongs to Him, not to them. Therefore, they should not fear.

    Secondly, God gives the Judeans precise instructions to go down to the battle on the morrow and even reveals the exact location of the enemy, who will come up by the ascent of Ziz and position themselves at the end of the valley, before the wilderness of Jeruel.

    Thirdly, the army of Judah will not fight in this battle: Instead, God informs them that they are to joyfully bear witness to the victory that He will bring to them, for His glory, the next day. All they need to do is stand still and trust that He is with them.

    This last command is certainly encouraging, albeit, unusual. Jehoshaphat has a significant army (2 Chronicles 17:12-19), and yet they will not be required to fight. Furthermore, instead of remaining in Jerusalem and having God relay the good news to them after the battle is over, the Judean army is required to mobilize and position themselves on the battlefield with the sole intention of getting a front row seat to the showdown between God and the enemy coalition. This act of participation is necessary from Judah to seal a faith partnership with God.  

    Judah Thanks God for Their Victory Before the Battle Even Begins

    (2 Chronicles 20:18-21)

    As we read earlier, Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah bow their heads and fall to the ground in thanks at the encouraging answer to their prayers. Additionally some of the Levites from the clans of Kohath and Kohen raise their voices in praise to God.

    This reaction is expected, but what l love about this section of 2 Chronicles 20 is that Jehoshaphat and his people continue to give thanks and praise God for His promise of victory – even right up to the moment before the battle begins.

    Trust and belief are always established before gratitude: The Judeans display this by waking up early on the morning of the battle and executing the commands that God had spoken through Jahaziel the day before. There is no mention of weaponry in this section, for their weapons are faith and Jehoshaphat’s reminder of God’s promises to them.

    Jehoshaphat consults his people regarding the delegation of the singers and worshipers for the battle, thus proving his hitherto wise sovereignty. He understands that this current crisis not only affects him directly, but also his people. For that reason, it is only fair that they should have a say in who gets to praise and worship God on the battlefield, especially as deep faith is required to march out before their army and thereby expose themselves blatantly to the enemy lines.

    Once they’re in sight of their adversaries, the people of Judah sing and give God praise clad in priestly robes: The promise of victory is enough for them to rejoice and give thanks, for they already believe. This act of praise may indeed be an unusual tactic to embrace, however it empathizes Jehoshaphat’s reliance on God, his eagerness to please Him (Psalm 51:16-17), as well as his desire to motivate their own soldiers. It also doesn’t hurt that their opponents would also get confused by unarmed singing and dancing civilians!

    Photo by Matt Botsford on Unsplash

    God Makes the Enemy Coalition Turn Upon Themselves

    (2 Chronicles 20:22-24)

    As the singers lead the Judean army into battle, God simultaneously sets ambushes on the enemy coalition of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir.

    Confusion arises in the enemy ranks, and the Ammonites and Moabites turn against the Meunites, suspecting betrayal. After the men of Mount Seir are slain, the Ammonites and Moabites turn on each other. Not one member of the three tribes survive.

    Imagine the incredulity and amazement from the Israelites when they reach the enemy camp and see the multitude of fallen soldiers! God has won the battle for Judah without them having to engage in warfare themselves. He has kept His promise of victory! Hallelujah!

    Photo by Joshua Fuller on Unsplash

    God Rewards Judah For their Reliance on Him

    (2 Chronicles 20:25)

    As if a victory against their enemy isn’t enough, God continues to richly reward the nation of Judah for their reliance on Him in their time of peril.

    With the enemy camp compromised and their possessions lying around, the Judeans help themselves to the spoils. In fact, there are so many goodies to divide up, such as cattle, precious gems, garments and more, that the victors need three days to gather everything and take home!

    Thank God In All Circumstances Not Just In Emergencies

    (2 Chronicles 20:26-30)

    On the fourth day after the battle, the nation of Judah assembles in the Valley of Beracah, which becomes known as the Valley of the Blessing after the blessings they give the Lord for His deliverance from their enemies.

    The Judeans continue with their thanks and praise as they enter Jerusalem with joy in their hearts and songs bursting from their lips. Accompanied by harps, lyres, and trumpets, the enter the temple and continue to bless the Lord.

    This outward expression of thanks displays the importance that the Judeans lay in not only acknowledging public acts of mercy with public gratitude, but also provides an excellent example of how giving thanks to God in all circumstances is important to them – not only in their time of need, but also as well in their moment of victory (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

    Giving God praise and glory for His mercy and grace also shows the surrounding nations on whom the Judeans lean on and trust in for support. With such a formidable divine ally, the neighbors who may have supported the enemy coalition earlier in the chapter or may still have aggressive intentions towards Judah now hold her in reverential fear and consequently leave her in peace.

    Break Bad Behavioral Patterns By Constantly Renewing Your Mind and Refusing to Compromise

    (2 Chronicles 20:31-37)

    Despite God’s undisputed help and victory over their enemies, Jehoshaphat and his people are still vulnerable to falling into old patterns of bad behavior and compromising their beliefs.

    Although they bore witness to God’s miraculous intervention, there remain those amongst the people of Judah, who are still not prepared to wholeheartedly follow God. Thus despite the national reforms he made in 2 Chronicles 19:4-11, Jehoshaphat compromises with the people by tolerating the practice of idol worship in his land.

    He also slips back into the old habit of making unholy alliances like the one he made with Ahab in 2 Chronicles 18.

    Jehoshaphat enters into a trade alliance with Ahab’s son, Ahaziah, who has succeeded his father as King of Israel after the latter’s untimely death (2 Chronicles 18:28-34). They aim to build ships in Ezion-geber, to sail to Tarshish, which was a pivotal trading city for iron, tin, and gold (Ezekiel 27:12).

    However, this time, Jehoshaphat withdraws from the alliance. God sends a prophet by the name of Eliezer, who declares that God will destroy Ahaziah’s and Jehoshaphat’s endeavors.

    This warning is enough to renew Jehoshaphat’s mind of the previous mercy and goodness of God, recall to him the guilt he experienced during his first alliance with Ahab, and to place fear in him of God and His consequential wrath if he doesn’t end this agreement. It’s a good thing that he does withdraw, as God destroys the ships designated for Tarshish.

    We hope you have enjoyed reading Part 1 of our Bible Study on 2 Chronicles 20.

    If you would like to learn how you can integrate the lessons of this chapter into your own life and experience peace and godly confidence even in the midst of trouble, then join us next month for “Part 2 – Living God’s Word – How to Confront a Crisis with God’s Peace and Confidence”.

    To be informed on the publication of Part 2, as well as other posts we publish, you can subscribe to our monthly newsletter. Additionally, we regularly provide our subscribers with offers and free gifts, so that’s definitely something to look forward to!

    Stay safe and blessed, and we look forward to have you join us for Part 2 of our Bible Study!

    In Christ,

    Madeline

    Madeline Kalu is a Christian writer and the co-founder of Jacob’s Ladder Blog and Faith Love Life Designs. She was born in England, was raised in Australia, and currently lives in Germany with her husband, Solomon.

    Madeline is in recovery from burnout, chronic depression, and anxiety. She believes that God can take life’s adversities and work them out for His good; hence, she uses her writing voice to raise awareness of mental illness, as well as to spread the light of God’s love to those who are mentally trapped in the dark, and provide them with hope and encouragement.

    Sources:

    abarim-publications.com, “Meunites meaning“

    biblicalarchaeology.org, “Who Were the Ammonites, Moabites and Edomites in the Bible?”

    enduringword.com, “2 Chronicles 20 – Jehoshaphat’s Victory”

    biblicaltraining.org, “Meunites”

    desiringgod.org, “What Does It Mean to Seek the Lord?”, John Piper.

    bible.org, “Lesson 7: The Man Who Won a War Without Fighting (2 Chronicles 20:1-30)”

    gotquestions.org, “Who was the Asaph mentioned in the Book of Psalms?”

    studylight.org, “Matthew Henry’s Complete Commentary on the Bible – 2 Chronicles 20”

    thelampstand.com., “Tarshish, Cornwall, and Tin and Gold Trade in the Ancient World”

    bible.org, “Lesson 4: Confidence in The Crisis (2 Chronicles 20:1-30)”

    christianity.com, “Matthew Henry Bible Commentary (complete)”

    forgodsfame.org, “The Prayer of Jehoshaphat”, Tim Bell.


    Share and Encourage Others
  • Articles

    5 lies that keep us from spiritual growth

    Share and Encourage Others

    Written by Madeline Kalu

    I’ve been a born-again Christian for 12 years. During this time, I’ve learnt a lot about the Lord and have been blessed by revelation of His ways, experienced His grace when l didn’t deserve it, and encountered His unconditional love.

    Attaining such knowledge hasn’t always been easy though: At times it required the Lord to test me and refine me of impurities that were hard for me to let go of. However, l am grateful for the challenges that God allowed me to endure, as it enabled me to grow spiritually.

    That being said, there have been obstacles to my spiritual growth. Some of these have occurred from trying to navigate a Christian life amidst superficial societal expectations, coupled with the pressures of living the COVID-19 life; others have originated from my own inner doubts and insecurities.

    These stumbling blocks are lies that l believed for a long time, which made me think that God wasn’t for me, and that contrary to what the Bible says, He didn’t love me, because l didn’t deserve it. Consequently, such thoughts held me captive and made me miserable.

    In the last year, God has been revealing Himself to me through numerous means – His Word, songs, as well as words of encouragement from friends and family. These revelations have helped me realize that the viewpoints l previously held are in fact not true.

    The following are 5 of the lies which had personally kept me from growing in the Lord in the past. In sharing these, l hope that my experiences will help free you of the untruths that are hindering you from maturing spiritually.

    1. I’m not a “good” Christian

    I am a perfectionist, and as part of my all-or-nothing character l want to be a “good Christian”, who reads her Bible, spends time with God in prayer, and worships Him through praise and song – daily.

    This self-expectation used to put me under a lot of pressure. Consequently, if l couldn’t keep up with my daily “God time” l would condemn myself. Additionally, l felt guilty of not being spiritual enough to approach God and felt unworthy of presenting Him with my prayer petitions.

    However, God doesn’t love us in proportion to how much time we spend with Him and His Word, how much we pray, or even how many good deeds we do. God loves us because He is love (1 John 4:8) – it is simply who He is.

    Now that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t read the Bible and spend time in prayer and praise: The more we know about God and His ways, the more revelation we will have of Him, which will lead to greater intimacy with Him and give us victory in our daily lives.

    What is important to remember is that God loves us for who we are, not what we do. For that reason, He sent His precious Son Jesus to die on the cross for our sins.

    2. God has favorites

    l used to look at Christian influencers on social media and see their posts about the new house they had bought, the exotic locations they visited, or the dream job they had. The carefree lifestyle they presented made me feel that God was favoring them and that they were doing something l wasn’t to deserve such great blessings.

    However, in Romans 2:11 it states that God does not show favoritism. Even David, who was “a man after God’s own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14) was not granted the task of building the Lord’s Temple; rather, God blessed his son Solomon with the honor.

    In the past year, God has been showering my husband and l with blessings: provision, job opportunities, favor, inner peace, and more. Through such acts of His grace, God has taught me two things:

    1) God gives customized blessings to meet our individual needs, in accordance to the current chapter in our lives

    2) We should always be grateful for what He gives (1 Thessalonians 5:18), regardless of our circumstances.

    God does not have favorites. If we compare our blessings with others, we risk falling into a bottomless pit of self-doubt and envy, which prevents us from growing spiritually.

    3. Other Christians don’t like me

    I get along well with the women in my church, however any attempts l make to connect with them outside of our place of worship are constantly rejected. Since church services have stopped due to lockdown, l have not heard from any of my female acquaintances, which leaves me feeling like a social outcast.

    God has been showing me through the love and encouragement of my husband and my non-Christian friends, that l am a kind person and a loyal friend. Through Christian therapy, l am learning that l’m not deficient or unworthy if others don’t desire my company: The issue lies with them, not necessarily with me.

    Additionally, God has brought two amazing women into my life through our love of writing. They live on the opposite sides of the world in Canada, but we are close to each other’s hearts.

    Most importantly, God is encouraging me to grow spiritually by forgiving those who are not for me, and to have sympathy and pray for the issues that the ladies in my church are enduring in their own lives.

    4. God doesn’t want to heal me

    The previous year has been especially difficult for my mental health. I am in recovery from burnout and chronic depression; however, the global pandemic and its consequences have negatively affected my mental state further.

    One of my biggest prayers is for healing from my mental torment. So, when God allows me to keep on suffering, and thereby miss out on the joys of life, l begin to doubt whether He will heal me at all.

    However, God is Jehovah Rapha – The God who heals. In His Word, God assures us that He hears our cries, and promises to heal us (2 Kings 20:5). God keeps His promises, because that is who He is (Numbers 23:19). When that healing will occur, we can only trust Him and leave it up to His perfect timing.

    5. Satan rules the world

    With 2020 exposing the injustice, discord, and tragedies of the world through the COVID-19 pandemic, racism, political deceit, as well as natural and personal disasters, is it consequential to say that the world is ruled by the orchestrator of darkness – Satan?

    And if so, why does God allow this?

    First of all, we need to remember that we live in a broken world. Self-interest, greed, and the pursuit of materialistic gain have resulted in the world suffering at the hands of man’s poor stewardship of the earth’s resources and lack of love for his fellow brother.

    However, regardless of what we as mankind do to the world and to each other, God has the final say over the events and outcomes of this earthly plain. In Isaiah 40:21-26, the prophet describes how God is the One who created the earth, including the heavens and the stars. He raises rulers and He can also bring them down again, for no one is His equal. He rules the world!

    Indeed it is true, that Satan is an enemy to man, whose goal is to “kill, lie, and destroy” (John 10:10). However, he is no match for God!

    If this is the case then, why is there so much evil on earth?

    Jesus warned us in the Book of John that our lives would not be free of trouble of adversity. However, He also said that He has conquered the world (John 16:33). Similarly, God promises in Romans 8:28 that He makes all things work out for good.

    Therefore, whatever trials and tribulations you personally face or witness happening around the world, know that God sees what is meant for evil and is turning it around for our good!

    When a broken world threatens to compromise our faith, and our own mind becomes a battlefield that feeds us lies and nurtures self-doubt, God’s Word is the truth that sets us free (John 8:32).

    How good then, that we serve a God who is not only our Father, but our Teacher, Friend, and Comforter, who love us and guides us from faith to faith and from glory to glory, in His name!

    About the author:

    Madeline Kalu is a Christian writer and the co-founder of Jacob’s Ladder Blog and Faith Love Life Designs. She was born in England, was raised in Australia, and currently lives in Germany with her husband, Solomon.

    Madeline is in recovery from burnout, chronic depression, and anxiety. She believes that God can take life’s adversities and work them out for His good; hence, she uses her writing voice to raise awareness of mental illness, as well as to spread the light of God’s love to those who are mentally trapped in the dark, and provide them with hope and encouragement.


    Share and Encourage Others
  • Devotionals

    When the Needy Help Others

    Share and Encourage Others

    Written by Madeline Kalu

    “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves.Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.”

    Philippians 2:3-4 (NRSV)

    Thought of the Day:

    Each of us has needs, and yet simultaneously, we all have gifts that can benefit others. By practising giving and receiving, we balance out social and economic inequities, encourage others, and provide hope for a better future.

    In the past week or so, many of us in the northern hemisphere have experienced thunderous storms, heavy snowfall, and glacial temperatures. Here in Germany, where my husband Solomon and l live, it has also been the same.

    The other day, Solomon went out to clear a snow path on the sidewalk for the footfall that passes by our house. However, this task proved to be a rather difficult one. The unexpected snowstorms and drastic drop in temperature had resulted in about 20cm of hard and soft snow, with a layer of black ice underneath. As spreading salt over snow is only allowed in extreme cases in Germany, Solomon had to crush through the snow and ice layers with his scraper in order to reach the cobbled path below.

    With much exertion and plenty of patience, Solomon started to slowly carve a path through the white freezing mass. As he leaned back on his shovel and took a brief rest, a man passed him by. He was dressed inadequately for the weather and looked gaunt. The man offered to shovel snow in Solomon’s stead and fulfilled his intentions with great gusto and a cheerful spirit.

    Whilst the unknown helper shoveled snow, he and my husband struck up an amicable conversation. Upon hearing that the man was homeless, Solomon’s heart was grieved. With the outbreak of COVID-19 and the onslaught of a harsh winter, many homeless people are in dire need of shelter and provision. And yet this stranger had not approached Solomon with the hope of receiving, but rather with a heart intent on giving. My husband was greatly touched that this kind individual had taken the focus off his own troubles in order to offer his assistance.

    Working together, the two men finished their snowy task.  In return for his kindness, Solomon gave the homeless man a gift, which he accepted with thanks, before bidding him farewell.

    Afterwards, Solomon ruminated on the lesson, which God had shown him through this experience – that help can come in the most unexpected of ways, and we should be open to receiving it without bias or judgement. Furthermore, every one of us has God-given gifts, which we can use to lift each other up, and thereby provide someone who is broken and lost with hope for a better tomorrow.

    Prayer:

    Merciful Father, we thank You for the sacrifice of Your precious Son Jesus, and we receive the gift of His Salvation with thankful hearts. As you taught us to receive from You, help us to receive from others without judging the situation or the giver.

    Furthermore, show us Lord, where we can use the gifts You give us to provide hope to the hopeless, encourage the defeated, and bring those who are trapped in the darkness into the light of Your love and mercy.

    In Jesus’ name,

    Amen.

    Delve Deeper:

    GIVE

    Take a piece of paper and a pen and draw a line down the middle of your page.

    In the left column, list down your talents, characteristics, and qualities that make you the wonderful person you are. In the right column, write down 1 way that you can use your listed talents and qualities to help someone you know, your community, or even a complete stranger. For example, if you enjoy communicating with others, you could undergo online training to become a volunteer digital counselor. If you are a gifted handyman, you could offer to help your neighbors with any repairs they need in their homes. If you have more free time due to lockdown, why not write letters to the residents of your local nursing home and thereby help them feel less isolated?

    You’ll quickly see that God has equipped you with more than enough skills and a generous heart to make a positive difference in someone else’s life!

    RECEIVE

    Additionally, write down the areas in your life where you are overwhelmed e.g. with your health or trying to parent your children during lockdown. If you’re completely honest with yourself, could you really do with some help in dealing with this situation?

    If so, write down the names of three people whom you trust with your problem. Then, ring them up and share your burden with them. You’ll feel so much better for it, and God may even provide them with revelation of your situation, which will help you!

    Too many times, a desire for self-independence, guilt, and even shame prevents us from admitting to others and even to ourselves that we need help. But you don’t need to condemn yourself. Even Jesus, who was the Son of God, was totally dependent on His Father. If Jesus could ask God for help during His time on earth, then what is stopping us from asking Him for help as well?

    Not only do we need to learn how to give – we also need to learn how to receive!

    Blog banner photo: Filip Mroz on Unsplash


    Share and Encourage Others
  • Devotionals

    Who are „Corona People“ anyway?

    Share and Encourage Others

    Written by Madeline Kalu

    “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid.

    No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. 

    In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”

    Matthew 5:14-16 (NRSV)

    Thought of the Day:

    During these unprecedented pandemic times, the love of God that resides in us needs to shine like a beacon through the darkness of fear and doubt, and offer encouragement and hope to others.

    My husband Solomon and l have been collectively living in Germany for over 20 years. I am British and Solomon is Nigerian. Despite our acclimatization to the German culture and language, we enjoy connecting with our cultural and linguistic roots when the opportunity arises. 

    A few months ago, in the period between the first and second national lockdown, Solomon ran into an old friend from Nigeria in the nearby city of Essen. The friend declared that he was now a pastor of a church for African ex-pats, and consequently invited my husband to attend their upcoming church service that Sunday.

    Solomon’s happy anticipation of home-grown worship and fellowship was very much realized that Sunday. After the church service, Solomon walked to the main train station with a couple of African men from the church. They maintained social distancing and had their masks on their persons.

    As they were chattering and exchanging pleasantries, a lady walked past them and yelled, “Hey, Corona people!”

    The group was struck dumb by this unprovoked verbal attack. One young man in particular was very upset.

    “Why are we being randomly targeted as harbingers of the COVID-19 virus?” he asked the others dumbfounded. “Why be unnecessary cruel during such unprecedented times, when we all are suffering? And, who are “Corona people” anyway?”

    Instead of expressing their own hurt, Solomon and the others comforted the young man. They assured him that the lady was probably feeling the stress of the Corona pandemic and was thereby projecting her fears and anxieties on them. They reminded each other that as believers of Christ they should forgive this lady, just as Christ forgave them their transgressions.

    The fellowship of these men, at first carefree, had turned earnest, and they were grateful for the spiritual support they could provide each other under both happy and serious circumstances.

    As they parted ways, the group expressed a wish that the lady would be able to experience the same peace and freedom that they did, by putting their faith in the Lord.

    Prayer:

    Almighty Father, we do not know why mankind has been struck down with the COVID-19 virus, but we do know that You make all things good with Your perfect timing.

    Until then, we will be comforted in the knowledge that Your grace goes before us, and we will shine with Your love, so that we may be a light to others and encourage our fellow brethren in this dark world.

    In Jesus’ name,

    Amen.

    Delve Deeper:

    This entire experience was a reminder for Solomon of how imperative it is that we as Christians continue to be a light for others during these unprecedented times.

    Where fear and anxiety reign in people’s hearts, where prejudice and postulation override common sense and sympathy, God’s love needs to be a beacon that cuts through the darkness to offer revelation and encouragement – not only to those who do not know God, but also to our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.


    Share and Encourage Others
  • Articles

    18 New Year Scriptures to encourage you and give you hope in 2021

    Share and Encourage Others

    Written by Madeline Kalu

    2020 is a year that many of us bade a cheerful farewell to.

    The outbreak of the COVID-19 virus took away a normalcy that many of us had previously taken for granted, caused serious financial and socio-economic disruption, and challenged our hope for the future.

    That advent of every new year is marked noticeably by a renewal of hope for a better future, a motivation to change, and a desire for new beginnings. Making New Year’s resolutions, like starting that new diet or taking up a new hobby, are just a few of the habits and mindsets that lay testimony to this.

    However, with the arrival of 2021, our need for consolation that this year is going to be better than last year is more apparent than ever.

    For that reason, we at Jacob’s Ladder have compiled a list of 18 Scriptures that we believe will encourage you and give you hope in 2021.

    Note: Our Bible reference of choice is the NRSV, unless otherwise stated.

    Isaiah 43:19–“I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”

    1. Isaiah 43:19–“I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”

    A desert or wilderness is a landscape that has long been exposed to unruly desolation. It can be associated with circumstances in our lives where we have experienced defeat, felt hopelessness, or endured failure. 

    However, where we see only a hopeless situation, God sees potential for change. He can reverse any arid landscape and cause waters to flow through it, returning dead vegetation to life and giving it a new beginning. 

    In 2021, God is going to revive situations in your life you assumed to be dead and re-open doors of opportunity and favor for you!

    (Photo by sgcdesignco on Unsplash)

    2. Jeremiah 29:11 “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.”

    From before we were in the womb (Jeremiah 1:5), God knew us and had a good plan for our lives. This plan includes living a fulfilled life with eager anticipation for the future. 

    At times, through prayer and revelation, we may be blessed to gain an insight into what God’s plans for our individual lives may entail. However, for the most part, God does not reveal His intentions for us, so that we may continue to trust and rely on Him, and give Him glory, instead of giving ourselves credit for life’s victories.

    What is important to remember is that God keeps His promises. Therefore, regardless of what adversity we may encounter, may it be a global pandemic, financial struggles, or health issues – God’s promise of provision, direction, and hope that He declares in Jeremiah 29:11 will prevail over everything else.  

    3. Psalm 118:24 – “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

    With the dawn of each new day, there is so much that we can be grateful to God for. First and foremost, He allowed us to wake up and be alive to see another day! This is a day that He has scheduled into your life timeline, and He has great and wonderful plans as to how you should spend it. 

    Your hope for a better future starts TODAY – with this day that the Lord has given you. 

    Therefore, instead of envisioning how much better things could be when this pandemic is over, or that you can start to enjoy life only after you have finished paying your bills, enjoy this day – with all its ups and downs – and appreciate the blessings that God has allowed you to experience in it.

    2 Corinthians 5:17– “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!”

    4. 2 Corinthians 5:17– “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!”

    Once you have entered into a relationship with Jesus Christ, the old version of you is gone and instead, you have a new beginning as a Child of God. 

    As an extension, the earthly values, societal pressures, fear, and worry which used to oppress you are rendered insignificant in comparison to the values that God wishes His children to abide under, such as to love one another (1 John 4:7), to abide in peace (John 14:27) and to trust Him and rest whilst He fights our battles for us (Exodus 14:14).

    (Photo by Candice Picard on Unsplash)

    5. Philippians 3:13-14 –“Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own, but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.”

    The imagery presented in this Scripture of our lifespan being compared to running a race is an apt way of encouraging us to stop looking at the past and instead, focus our attention on God’s promises for the future.

    Although 2020 was a difficult year for us, let us refuse to dwell in the past, and instead, ask God to direct our path towards reaching the goals He has set before us for 2021, which should include loving and helping others, and claiming His blessings over our lives.

    6. Philippians 4:13 – “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”

    This is such a beautiful Bible verse, as it claims the source of our strength and power – Jesus Christ.

    Through the grace of Jesus, which we receive by faith, we are infused with an eternal source of energy, which He uses to charge us and rejuvenate us with.

    Consequently, when we are confronted with a situation that would otherwise overwhelm us, we can instead rely on the power of Jesus Christ and be confident of victory through the assurance that comes from being backed up by the divine majesty of Christ.

    Although the difficulties associated with the COVID-19 pandemic may have followed us into 2021, know that you can face them and other challenges that may come your way with a fully charged battery pack of Christ’s power!