Passionate Plea

Have you ever been at a place that something was pressing so hard on the inside of you that  you just had to get it out either by talking about it or writing about it and you felt you would explode if you didn”t??  This is where I am today! For a little back ground, a few weeks ago, my husband and I had the opportunity to hear a survivor of the Holocaust. As he shared his horrific experiences and those of his loved ones, each time he would ask, “Could you forgive?” For about two hours he spoke of atrocity after atrocity and it was painful to hear how they had suffered and that was only a fraction of a percent compared to the his suffering, and that of his family, and his friends! His was a message of forgiveness from start to finish! Don’t get me wrong, he shared his anger, frustration, fear, torture but the solid thread flowing through his testimony was forgiveness and that we have to forgive in order to live freely. You see, unforgiveness makes us slave to the one we refuse to forgive, but that is a topic for another day. Next, the Holy Spirit began impressing us  that we were to share this fellow’s experiences and theme of forgiveness at a Bible Study we were to substitute teach in two days. We knew we had to be obedient but it took a little time to line up because there were a couple of people who bring their children and the youngest is about eight. The decision was made and the parents were informed on the topic and approved.  This all took place on the actual day of Yom Hashoah  (Holocaust Remembrance Day) and the days following.

The questions that arose from studying and sharing this that Tuesday evening turned a childhood spark into a flame. I had always heard that there were Christians that blamed the  Jewish people for the death of Christ. I never understood this thought pattern. You see since I was a child I have been a student of the Word of God.  I am not a theology student and I have no “formal” training in the Word. I do believe that God will enable us despite lack of formal training to understand  the Word because John 14 it tells us:

John 14:25-26  (HCSB)   “I have spoken these things to you while I remain with you. 26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit—the Father will send Him in My name—will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have told you.

Long story short, I began to do more research on the holocaust and the history of the church, how and if the church was a catalyst in some cases that fanned the flames of those who were propagating the evil atrocities that occurred. What I continue to read has sparked a passionate plea!  Christians, please read the Word of God for yourself! Know what it says, pray for understanding, find a reliable translation and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you into wisdom and understanding. Yes, even and especially the Old Testament. When we don’t know our roots and our history, we are targets for deception and being lead astray from the truth. When that happens we can fall into false thinking which can lead us do things we might have thought at one time we were not capable of doing and rationalize our actions based on a false belief!

When we as Christians become students of the Word, we are arming ourselves against deception. Throughout the Bible it was prophesied that Jesus would come born of a Virgin  and that He would suffer, die, and be raised to life. A look at Psalm 22, Isaiah 53, to name just two tell us this. We are told that before the foundation of the world, Christ is the Lamb that was slain. This was God’s plan long before it happened.  Jesus was born and raised Jewish.  It was not the Jewish people who were responsible for His arrest, His beatings and His death. A quick look at John tells us it was certain Jewish rulers that plotted His capture and demise and it was planned under the cover of darkness.

John 18:13 And they brought Him first to Annas, for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was the high priest that year.14 It was Caiaphas who had counseled the Jews that it was expedient and for their welfare that one man should die for (instead of, in behalf of) the people.

24 Then Annas sent Him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.

28 Then they brought Jesus from Caiaphas into the Praetorium (judgment hall, governor’s palace). And it was early. They themselves did not enter the Praetorium, that they might not be defiled (become ceremonially unclean), but might be fit to eat the Passover [supper]. 29 So Pilate went out to them and said, What accusation do you bring against this Man?30 They retorted, If  He were not an evildoer (criminal), we would not have handed Him over to you.

John 19:4 Then Pilate went out again and said to them, See, I bring Him out to you, so that you may know that I find no fault (crime, cause for accusation) in Him.

When the chief priests and attendants (guards) saw Him, they cried out, Crucify Him! Crucify Him! Pilate said to them, Take Him yourselves and crucify Him, for I find no fault (crime) in Him.The Jews answered him, We have a law, and according to that law He should die, because He has claimed and made Himself out to be the Son of God. (note this is referring back to the chief priests and guards who had brought Him)

Based on scripture, history and archeological findings, it is a pretty sure thing that it was  a select group of leaders and their guards/servants that are responsible for the death sentence given Jesus and knowing the prophecy it was accomplishing God’s plan that was from the beginning. Jesus was welcomed warmly when He entered Jerusalem with large numbers of people waving palms and celebrating. It was not they who turned on Him and cried “crucify” in the darkness of early morning! It was those who were threatened by their fear of loss of power, prestige and wealth. I understood this even as a youth based on the Word. It was only in the last ten years that I found that this was by the other historical and archeological findings.

The lesson here is when we don’t learn for ourselves, it is easy to be deceived. When we are deceived, we don’t generally know we are deceived and we act with great confidence fully believing that we are acting in an appropriate way. We have a tendency to become an impulsive people rather than  reflective, perhaps before acting rashly we should slow ourselves down; begin asking ourselves some questions;  listen to the answers; and for the “still small voice” to reveal:

  • What is really going on?
  • Am I missing something?
  • Why do I feel so strongly about this? whether it is anger, hurt, frustration, confusion.
  • What is the heart of those involved?
  • Am I being deceived?
  • Am I being defensive and if so why?
  • What does the Word say about this type situation? Though listed last, it is perhaps the most important question we can ask!

Ephesians 6:11-13 says:  11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tacticsof the Devil. 12 For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. 13 This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand.

Last night our pastor reminded us of 1 Peter 5″:Be serious! Be alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour”.  His next words were priceless, he said: “Notice is says as a lion or like a lion; Satan is a poser! He comes to steal kill and destroy posed as a lion, but Jesus came to give us abundant, rich and satisfying life. John 10:10”

Jesus, the Lion of Judah, is the real deal. He is not a poser and He came not only to save us from ourselves and our sin but He came to give  us new life, freedom, deliverance; life better than we could ever imagine.  Reading, understanding, and seeking to follow His Word is paramount in seeing this to come to fruition in our lives!!

ImageNovember 16, 2012

Shalom,

It is with many emotions today that I leave Israel.  I am  flooded with gratitude to God  for this incredible opportunity! I have  missed our family very much and I  am grateful to be very close to seeing them again but also I am  overwhelmed with the desire to extend my stay in this land. I never imagined I would feel so at home here, be hit with such a depth of desire to stay here, nor did I realize the tears that I would shed because it was time to go!  What an exceptional group of people we have been blessed to travel with! Not only those from our Lifegate family, but also those who traveled from around the states to be with us and those who planned and executed our trip, especially our excellent driver. No one can maneuver a bus like Ami does.  It has been amazing to experience the Holy Land with such knowledgable and passionate guides. Huge gratitude to both Marc and Ilan!! The insight and understanding you brought to us was priceless. It is as Moshe  said when he spoke with us in his shop, ” None come to Israel unless it is by God’s hand.”  I am sure now more than ever, the longing to come here that I have carried for all these years was God given. I also believe the it was His perfect plan that this was the proper time for us to go. I don’t know that I will ever be able to fully express my gratitude for the ability to take this trip nor my perceptions in the land, but I will surely attempt to give it my best effort over time and it will forever change my understanding when I read God’s Word.  I can not wait to return.  Not only  have I left a large portion of my heart in Israel, I will forever carry a love for  Israel and it’s people in my heart!! As my wonderful friend Don says, ” This will change your life forever!”

November 20, 2012

The above was written at the airport last Friday. By the time we landed stateside, the attacks on Israel had escalated and continue to increase. This is a country surrounded but those who want to see it destroyed! Despite constant attacks, they use restraint in their defenses and as a rule only strike back when there are Israelis injured or killed.  This is a beautiful land with beautiful and diverse citizens who dwell together in peace. The attacks are coming at the hands of terrorist groups that want to see Israel and the Jewish people destroyed, please join me in praying for the peace of Jerusalem, Israel, and it’s people!

Psalm 122:5-7. Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB). Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:  “May those who love you prosper; may there be peace within your walls, prosperity within your fortresses.”

Set Up to Step Up

I am so blessed to be a part of our Monday Morning S.O.A.P. group. This morning our S.O.A.P. reading was Matthew 4. Just a  few words to

explain what S.O.A.P. stands for: each day we take one chapter of the Bible and we read it prayerfully to see what the Lord will say to us or

show us through that passage. S. is for scripture, so the first step is to read the passage; O. stands for observation and we journal what we observe

in the passage, basically what stands out specifically to us on this day; A. stands for application, how we can or will apply what we have learned in

our lives; and finally P. is for prayer, asking God to help us apply what we have learned in the passage.

It is by far the  best Bible reading plan that I have ever tried! Most I have tried require reading 3-4 chapters at one sitting and if you miss one or two

it is easy to get behind and not catch up, with this one it is only one chapter most times and it is easy to really focus on what you have read, rather than

breeze through just to check it off of your to do list. Once a week we come together to do our S.O.A.P. together and then spend time sharing what we

have learned. It is so beneficial to hear how God speaks in each other’s lives and how He uses what we share to help someone else who may be struggling

in an area of life.  After sharing my S.O.A.P. today, one of these sweet sisters suggested that I share my entries and another confirmed this. My husband

had also been telling me this for a while. Now, you have to know what my prayer section was for today and when I share it below, it will be more clear

why I felt compelled to share these personal musings of mine. So here goes:

Matthew 4

S. After He had fasted 40 days and 40 nights, He was hungry. Then the tempter approached Him and said, “If You are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” (Matthew 4:2, 3 HCSB)
From then on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, because the kingdom of heaven has come near!” (Matthew 4:17 HCSB)
Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. (Matthew 4:20 HCSB)
Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed Him. (Matthew 4:22 HCSB)
Jesus was going all over Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. (Matthew 4:23 HCSB)
Then the news about Him spread throughout Syria. So they brought to Him all those who were afflicted, those suffering from various diseases and intense pains, the demon-possessed, the epileptics, and the paralytics. And He healed them. (Matthew 4:24 HCSB)

O. This chapter is so rich and chocked full of information. For starters, before Jesus began His ministry, the Holy Spirit led Him out in to the wilderness to be tested! Notice, it doesn’t say the devil led Him out but the Holy Spirit led Him. The devil did test Him, and he picked the end of the 40 day period when Jesus was weakest. Satan always uses our weakest time to sweep in whether it’s hunger, emotional or physical pain, or some other time of weakness. But even more, I note that the Holy Spirit was the one in charge of the encounter. Also, note that Jesus did not argue with the devil out of His own power, but used the power of God’s Word! When the devil saw that Jesus resisted him with the Word three times, the devil gave up, and left Jesus alone! At that point, Jesus withdrew for a time and shortly after began His ministry, announcing the Kingdom of Heaven. He began calling disciples and they immediately accepted His invitation! Again, it seems the theme continues of immediate obedience, Jesus’, and the disciple’s obedience! I can’t help but also notice testing, obedience, elevation…repeat testing, obedience, elevation… We are responsible for our obedience, passing the tests before being given additional responsibilities.

A. We are told that trials and temptations will come, we must be ready, arm ourselves with the Word of God. Only in the Word of God can we learn who we are in Christ and only by knowing it can we use it as a weapon against the onslaughts that we face in life. When we become familiar with His Word, we place ourselves in a position of power to stand against the fiery darts of the devil and resist the temptations he throws our way, when we resist him, he will flee!! Also, when God takes us to a new level in Him we have more responsibility and greater accountability and that requires a new level of obedience but also brings us to greater faithfulness and greater maturity in Him.

P. Lord Jesus, my prayer today is to be faithful, quick to hear and obey You. I pray for ears that are quick to listen and hear Your Word, Your voice and the Holy Spirit speaking into my life. I also pray for wisdom when fellow followers speak into my life through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, sometimes even through the voice of one of my sweet grandchildren! I pray for wisdom and discernment so that I won’t miss You or the opportunities You send me!
In Jesus’ Name!! Amen!

 

Not all readings have multiple scriptures that stand out like this one did for me and some days it is a specific verse that stands alone. Based on what spoke to me this day, the responses of my sweet sisters, and the prayer for God to use His Word, His Spirit and those He places in my path to speak into my life, I have decided to act in immediate obedience. I am certain that this is why God tells us to not neglect fellowship with one another! As we are often heard quoting in our group:

Proverbs 27:17 (HCSB) Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.

New Ideas to Ponder

The last week has been filled with new concepts to ponder, reminders of things learned in the past that had slipped in the recesses of my mind and just an overload of information that will take some time to ponder and process. 

One topic was on prayer. I had the opportunity to watch Louie Giglio’s dvd:  Prayer:Remix (on sale for $5 at Family Bookstore for a couple of days near Labor day).  He challenges God’s people to do a remix on three of the most commonly used repetitive phrases we all tend to use in prayer.

  • bless us or our loved ones

He reminds us that in Ephesians 1:3-4 that God has already blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavens. The suggestion he makes: consider asking God to help us bless to Him, to allow Him to live thru us in a way that will bring blessing and Glory to Himself.

  • be with us or our loved ones

For those of us In Christ, we have already received the Holy Spirit-Christ in us, therefore He is with us. Scripture tells us He will never leave or forsake us, that He goes with us and will be our rear guard. Remix- Lord, please help me allow You to live through me in a way that affects and influences others for Your Glory.

  • watch over us or our loved ones

Here Louie reminds us that there is no place we can go where God is not already there, there is nothing hidden from God ! 

   This dvd is interesting and makes one think! Louie is not saying that there is anything wrong with these and admits he catches himself doing these same things. It is funny and has a lot of truth and has given me fresh ways to approach prayer.

    For me, it becomes a  problem  when  prayer becomes rote  or routine, just going through the motions.  That is when the daily issues of life tend to creep in and interrupt my time with the Lord.  (to do lists, we need … from the grocery,etc.)  I am beginning to  look  for ways to remix prayer and make it come alive in a new way that will keep it fresh.

    One way I have found is spending time focused on who God is and in thanksgiving. Keeping it more focused with more specific things helps also, then there are less of the little darty distractions  and a quieter mind that can take time and listen for the ‘Still small voice’ who is more than happy to direct our prayers in areas of need both in ourselves and in those around us.

A Challenging Prayer Time

   Have you ever been praying and felt the Holy Spirit was challenging you by giving you words to pray and suddenly your routine time with the Lord just comes alive with a life of its own???

   Just a time of normal prayer for normal things, those who have health needs, financial need, thanksgiving for all the Lord’s love,mercy, grace, blessings-then comes the prompting to pray for the really big stuff that we often neglect to think about and maybe there are others that do as well:

  • Un-reached people groups
  • Those suffering martyrdom 
  • And the Body of Christ at large

  Today,  I was reminded of a statement I’d recently heard. The person I was listening to related that the United States was the third largest un-churched nation in the World. I have not confirmed this however after seeing many changes in our country throughout my life, it doesn’t totally surprise that it is true.  Ok, so how do I pray about these huge things? It reminded me of the old question: How do you eat an elephant?~One bite at a time.

Where to start?  was my next question and it seems the answer was to begin with the Body of Christ and the challenge to pray for us as a body to  put aside our denominational and doctrinal differences and to be united; to trust God more fully with the circumstances in our lives so that we can be more selfless and spend more time loving others; to quit seeing church as something to do and look toward being the church in ways that will have a positive effect on those we love and come into contact with; to see the Body of Christ work in tandem and to raise up more individuals who are devoted to allowing God to be first in their life and allow Jesus to not only live in them but to also live through them fully.

What a large challenge! Am I up to it? No. Do I believe God can and will answer it? Yes, with God, all things are possible and nothing is impossible!  Would you mind if I ask you who may choose to read these ramblings to join with me in these prayers if you are not already doing this? Changed hearts will change the world and how better than to unite together and boldly ask our Father in Heaven for these things??