Justice from a New Angle

Bob Sorge’s voice was reduced to a raspy whisper due to a devastating injury to his vocal chords 20 years ago. Being a pastor, this was an overwhelming loss. How could he preach when his voice was diminished to a mere whisper, almost too soft to hear? Bob is an overcomer, who has continued to preach and teach even in the face of excruciating pain with each word.

What I’ve noticed is that God often uses people to the fullest of their potential when they are in the midst of the direst of circumstances. Bob’s messages and books continue to touch the heart of God. With his latest video, Bob tackles the subject of justice in a way that is so refreshing. I’ve listened to it several times because the concept is so compelling and encouraging for anyone waiting for God to act on their behalf. I believe this message is a revelation word from God to enlighten the eyes of our heart. It has definitely proven true in my life. It’s only 7+ minutes and well worth the listen.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QoqW3bfwDAw&t=6s&mc_cid=840700f280&mc_eid=279660749c

Identity in Christ

One of the most important issues that a Christian must have in place is his or her identity in Christ. Every human being has formed an identity of some sort. There are things that we have been told about ourselves that stick with us, and we assume that is who we are.

Sometimes we take the labels that have been put on us from childhood, and we determine our worth and value by words spoken over us as youngsters. These could involve physical, personality or behavioral labels. A child could hear such things as: “You’re stupid; You’re such a slob; You’re too fat; You’re too thin; You’re such a  bully; You’re so shy; Cry baby, cry baby; Can’t you do anything right?” Or we may have heard positive things that puff us up, such as: “You’re the pretty one in the family; or You’re such a brain.”

Any of these kinds of things can go deep into the soul and become an identity carried throughout life. A person may form their entire identity by a weakness or negative aspect.

In the book, “The Bondage Breaker”, Neil Anderson has said: “No person can consistently behave in a way that’s inconsistent with the way he perceives himself. If you think you’re a no-good bum, you’ll probably live like a no-good bum. But if you see yourself as a child of God who is spiritually alive in Christ, you’ll begin to live in victory and freedom as He lived.  After years of working with people who are in deep spiritual conflict, I found one common denominator: None of them knew who they were in Christ.  Satan can do nothing to damage your position in Christ. But if he can deceive you into believing his lie—that you are not acceptable to God and that you’ll never amount to anything as a Christian—then you will live as if you have no position or identity in Christ.”

When you received Christ as your Lord and Savior, and He came by His Holy Spirit to take up residence in you, He made you a new creature. Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold new things have come.” (2 Corinthians 5:1) When we came to Christ, our old way of identifying who we were passed away. Whatever names or brands we or someone else had attached to us were removed at the cross. You are now a new person “in Christ.”

We no longer have to identify ourselves by our weaknesses or labels. That is not who we are. None of us need to carry a label — because we are new and clean in Christ – and our identity is now in Him and everything He stands for and who He says we are. He made the exchange of all our filthy rags for His clean white garment. So we are not only forgiven, but we are righteous. Why? Because He is righteous and we identify with who He is. So when we think of ourselves, we think of a righteous person.

Who we used to be has been “crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and delivered Himself up for me.” (Galatians 2:20)

It’s incredible to think about, isn’t it? He sees us as clean and whole and righteous, because He has made us that way in Him.He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)  I am holy because He is holy, and He dwells in me.

This means that Christ took all our filthy rags of identification and exchanged them for His pure, holy righteousness. When Christ went to the cross, it says that He became sin.  The Living Bible puts it this way: “For God took the sinless Christ and poured into Him our sins. Then, in exchange, He poured God’s goodness into us.” The King James version says, “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

This means that on the cross, the sinless Christ, although He never personally sinned himself, actually became a drug addict, bitter, angry, jealous, a homosexual, abusive, a liar, a prostitute, greedy, an idolater, drunk with a party spirit, lawless, factious (quarrelsome or self-seeking), a fool, a glutton, a slanderer and more. By taking all our sin on Himself, He made an exchange so that we might become righteous in compassion, humility, gentleness, patience, purity, forgiveness, love, peace, forbearance, thankfulness, self control, faithfulness, goodness, desiring to worship and more.

With this monumental exchange, we gained a completely new identity. Our old fleshly identity with its passions and desires was crucified with Christ. We can now come before His throne of grace confidently because He sympathizes with our weaknesses. (Hebrews 4:15-16)

Knowing who we are in Christ frees us to make right choices in life. The way it works is this: When our identity is settled, we choose actions that line up with our identity. Whatever weaknesses of soul we formerly identified with (that may have been behind our former behaviors), we can now choose not to act on, because they do not line up with who we are in Christ. Life then is a series of Spirit-controlled decisions to become more and more like Christ in our words, attitudes, and actions — so that what we DO lines up with who we ARE. As we understand more clearly who we are, then our actions and thoughts will line up more easily.

It might be an interesting exercise for you to prayerfully make a list of things that identify you. For example: “I am righteous and holy.”  “I am forgiven,” “I am a new creation,” “I am a temple for the Holy Spirit.” “I am a child of light, not of darkness.”  As you read your Bible, you can add other things to this list.

In the movie, “Overcomer,” Priscilla Shirer gave an assignment to a struggling young girl. She asked her to read Eph. 1 and 2 and write out everything that defined who she was. She began with Eph. 1:4, “I am chosen.” This might be something you could also do. It will be a “life giving” list concerning your identity.

We have seen that there are many distortions and lies that we have believed about ourselves. How we view these lies will determine our relationship with God and other people. There is a revolving cycle that we go through in the course of a lifetime. It looks something like this:

—valued child—truth is mirrored to child—

child accepts the mirrored image and says “I am valued”—

the person gains a true sense of who they are and feels wholeness—

the outward expression is that they can then extend that value to others—

gain a sense of life—value is internalized, I am valued—

(cycle repeats generationally)

For many people, the following is more accurate, a life where value was stolen.  It also is a revolving cycle (until the lies are exposed):

—child is born with God-given value—false “truth” is mirrored to child—

that “truth” is accepted, the child has no skills to sort or sift the so called “truth” they receive—this creates a void—symptoms appear as to how the person can fill that void

(i.e. promiscuity, performance, achievements, beliefs, relationships, substances)—person experiences guilt—person says: I am worthless, I have no value—

lies have become internalized— (cycle repeats.)

GOD IS SO GOOD.  He gives us a process to regain our lost value.  This is also a revolving cycle:

—Adult devalued by lifelong process—

confusion results, unable to sort the truth and lies—

EXPOSURE TO GOD’S TRUTH says “I am valued”

Adult now has the ability to sort and sift the truth—

cognitive thinking is impacted, the void is beginning to be

partially filled in relationship to the truth that is accepted—

the outward expression of internal truth is exhibited in relationships—

a sense of life begins to spring up—value is internalized,

I really start to believe I have value—> (cycle repeats)

Often as children we experienced rejection or even abandonment and have a skewed identity as a result. Satan is a master deceiver and is adept at “identity theft.” He rejoices when he can convince a person of a false identity, one that is not our true God given self. The good news is: Our value and connectedness can be re-claimed. It starts when we believe God’s truth about ourselves.

A good Biblical perspective concerning identity in Christ is found in John 15, where we learn about the vine and the branches.  Jesus said, “I am the vine and you are the branches.” A branch is connected to the vine. It is a part of the vine. Jesus’ “sap” flows through us because we are “in” Him, just as a branch is “in” the vine. We produce fruit because He energizes and controls us. We are nothing without Him. He is in us and we are in Him. This is intimacy…connectedness at its finest. This is our identity.

Sometimes we forget that we are continually connected to the Author of life itself. That connection is probably the only firm and sure connection we have…and it is sure indeed. Jesus said, “I and the Father are one.”  They are connected. And He invites us into that unity, that oneness…that connectedness. Jesus said of His relationship with us, “I in them and Thou in Me..” Jesus is “in” the Father and the Father is “in” Jesus. You and I are also “in” Christ and He is “in” us…”Christ in us, the hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:27)

So to change our identity, we must change who and what we identify with.

As I think about my relationship to Christ and how thankful I am that I am secure in my identity in Him, I have a picture in mind:

If I am rooted in Christ, and He Himself is actually the root of my life, then everything that springs from that root has to be holy, good, right, loving, and pure – because there is no unrighteousness in Him. A branch of a tree is dependent on the root system of the tree, and whatever comes up into the branch flows up from the root. Because Christ is completely righteous, His flow of nourishment into my life is continually and only righteous.

Romans 11:16 says: “…if the root be holy, the branches are too.

Colossians 2:7 also talks about roots: “…having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith…”  My roots and therefore my identity are firmly grounded and rooted in who He is, and all the attributes and character of Christ are at my disposal. I am “in Him” and He is “in me”. This is intimacy at its finest, and this identifies who I am. This is the closeness of relationship that the Lord offers me — even to the point of identity.

Webster’s Dictionary says identity means: “the condition or fact of being the same in all qualities under consideration; sameness; oneness.”

In John 17:11 Jesus prays…”…Holy Father, keep them in Thy name, the name which Thou hast given Me, that they may be one, even as We are.” I believe Jesus was praying about our identity here, that our identity be in His name, that we be one with Him and the Father. Then in verse 21, “that they may all be one, even as Thou, Father, art in Me and I in Thee, that they also may be in Us…”  and vs. 23 “I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be perfected in unity…

In all this, I see Jesus praying fervently that we know who we are, that we be clear about our identity in Him…that we are one with Him, in Him, in His Name. Securely attached – this is His will for us, and He cried out to the Father that it would be so.

Knowing that my true identity is in Christ, there is NO WAY I can say that weak tendencies whether mental or emotional, or fleshly thoughts are my identity. They don’t fit in with the identity I have in Christ. Yes, we all have weaknesses associated with our flesh nature, but we are new creatures in Christ, and our identity is not associated with our flesh. Our identity is in the Spirit. I am righteous because He is righteous, and He has imputed His righteousness to me. I am rooted in righteousness.  I am holy because He is holy. I love because He is love.

In reality, there are times I choose to act or think away from the context of my true identity. I sometimes choose to walk in the flesh, but my deeds do not change the fact of who I am in Christ. My flesh can rise up and do or say unloving things, hurt people, hurt God, but that is out of my flesh, not out of my God-given identity.

It’s important to remember that for every Christian, there is a “condition” and a “position.” Our “condition” is that we were born with a flesh nature and that we will have it until our bodies are glorified. But in Christ, we have a new “position”, and that is in the heavenlies, seated on the throne “in Christ.” Our lives now optimally operate out of our new position. (Ephesians 2:6)

WHO AM I?   (MY TRUE IDENTITY IN CHRIST)

I am a child of God.  (John. 1:12)

I am chosen (Eph. 1:4)

I am forgiven (Eph. 1:7)

I am redeemed (Eph. 1:7)

I am the salt of the earth.  (Matthew 5:13)

I am the light of the world.  (Matthew 5:14)

I am part of the true vine, a channel of Christ’s life.  (John 15:1,5)

I am Christ’s friend.  (John 15:15)

I am appointed by Christ to bear His fruit.  (John 15:16)

I am a joint heir with Christ, sharing His inheritance with Him. (Romans 8:17)

I am a temple-a dwelling place-of the Holy Spirit. (I Corinthians 3:16 and 6:19)

I am a member of Christ’s Body.  (I Corinthians 12:27, Ephesians 5:30)

I am a new creation.  (II Corinthians 5:17)

I am reconciled to God & a minister of reconciliation.  (II Corinthians 5:18-19)

I am a saint.  (Ephesians 1:1, I Corinthians 1:2, Philippians 1:1)

I am God’s workmanship, created for good works.  (Ephesians 2:10)

I am born again.  (John 3:3,7)

I am righteous and holy. (Ephesians 4:24)

I am a citizen of heaven, seated in heaven now.  (Philippians 3:20, Ephesians 2:6)

I am hidden with Christ in God.  (Colossians 3:3)

I am chosen of God, holy and dearly loved. (Colossians 3:12, I Thessalonians 1:4)

I am a son of light and not of darkness.  (I Thessalonians 5:5)

I am one of God’s living stones, being built up in Christ as a spiritual house. (I Peter 2:5)

I am a member of a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession. (I Peter 2:9-10)

I am an alien and stranger in this world in which I temporarily live. (I Peter 2:11)

I am an enemy of the devil. (I Peter 5:8)

I am what I am by the grace of God.  (I Corinthians 15:10)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reversal of Destiny

Have you ever made a decision that changed the course of your destiny? Whether big or small, most people have made decisions that move them onto a road they have not yet traveled, sometimes requiring profound changes.

Beth Moore talked about her dog, Beanie, a pointer who, when on a walk in the woods would see a squirrel and go into full point with her paw. The only way to get her back on the walk was to pick her up, still in full point, and set her down in a different direction.

I’m reminded of Esther in the Bible and how Haman was on a mission to kill all the Jews but because Esther revealed this information to the king, the Jews were saved and Haman was hung. Reversal of destiny for Haman and for the Jewish nation.

On my second trip to China, I met a lady who asked me if I would teach her the Bible through Skype when I returned home. On our third lesson in John 3, as we talked about being born again, she cried out, “This Jesus is amazing. I want Him in my heart right now!” A reversal of her spiritual destiny took place with that decision.

But what led up to that? I always find it interesting to think about how God leads us right to where He wants us to be so He can accomplish His purposes and at the same time bless us. First, I had to have met a Chinese person on my first visit, then later be invited to visit her mother’s home. Then I had to make the decision to fly across the ocean to see her. Upon arrival, she just happened to have a friend who needed Jesus and was hungry to hear about Him. Then, I had to decide to teach her when I returned home. All the while, God was wooing her.

I could have stayed home and missed this opportunity but God used a reversal of destiny to bless us both.

“The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” Prov. 16:9 “For He performs what is appointed for me….” Job 23:14 “The steps of a man are established by the Lord; and He delights in his way.” Ps. 37:23

Video of my book!

Here’s a better way to view a video where I recently, I spoke at the Yahweh Book Club in Fort Wayne, IN. It was a fun evening with some sweet ladies as I shared from my book, “Come Walk the Narrow Path with Me.” This book is composed of close to 40 stories God has given me opportunities to share my faith. You can see the video at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVkvmCic2EsCQEXUEiK_02A?view_as=subscriber

Compassion

Jesus Smiling3Sometimes God uses a sermon to speak a life changing word into our hearts. Last Sunday we visited our daughter’s church, Maple City Chapel in Goshen, IN. What an amazing sermon we heard as the associate pastor, Gary Miller, talked about Lamentations 3:22 -23, “The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Thy faithfulness.”

If Jesus is faithful to extend compassion to us every morning, then that means we never run out. God’s compassion is renewed to us each and every day in the morning. So, when we get up, we are immediately endowed and filled with all the compassion we will need for that day. It is a continual, renewable asset that God makes sure we receive every day of our lives.

Since we have never ending compassion poured into our lives, does that mean there is an expectation that we will then use it to pour out onto others? Are we like David who, though he didn’t have to, chose to seek out someone to show compassion to? In II Samuel 9:1, David said, “Is there yet anyone left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” David was the king. He didn’t have to reach out with compassion but he chose to.

Mephibosheth, Jonathan’s son was crippled yet was shown great favor by David as he invited him to his house to live and restored his land to him. What motivated David? Compassion.

In the New Testament, we could ask, “What motivated the good Samaritan to help out the man along the road while others passed him by? Why did the Samaritan offer help? What was in it for him? Nothing, except the opportunity to show compassion.

Interestingly, neither David nor the Samaritan counted the cost before they offered compassion yet both paid a price for their kindness. Nevertheless, the motivation to show mercy was strong.

I guess the question for us is: Since God promises to fill us with compassion each morning, how are we using it in practical ways to serve others? Jesus’ exhortation to His listeners as He told the Samaritan story was, “Go and do the same.” Maybe we could start off our days by asking, “God, who would you like me to show compassion to today?”

 

A Word about Grace

Grace Requires Nothing of Me

“The list goes on forever
of all the ways I could better
in my mind.
As if I could earn God’s favor given time
or at least ‘congratulations.’

Now I have learned my lesson
the price of this so-called perfection
is everything.
I’ve spent my whole life searching desperately
to find out that grace requires nothing of me.”
– “Atlas: One” by Sleeping at Last

(A young friend, Kat Lovell, shares a clear word from God regarding grace.)

The words of this song brought a serious, much-needed perspective shift to my life last week. They were first read aloud to me by a friend while I sat on her bed and cried as I shared the frustrations sitting on my heart. Throughout the week I continued to pull the lyrics up, quietly considering them again and again.These are the words that stuck out to me, that really hit home: “Grace requires nothing of me.”

Hearing those words felt like remembering something that I had almost forgotten––something very important. It felt like waking up. So, some context: I have been a self-proclaimed perfectionist for years. I used to think that I simply had high expectations for myself, and that it was a good thing (and don’t get me wrong, that can be a good thing). However, there is a major pitfall to all those expectations, and it really sneaks up on you.

Here’s what happened, as a result of my perfectionism: I developed this image of who I thought I should be, and whenever I didn’t live up to that image, I criticized myself relentlessly. I was always trying to be “enough.” Kind enough, smart enough, thoughtful enough, good enough. To be the perfect teacher, friend, student––everything. And when I didn’t feel “enough,” I berated myself and tried harder. But that didn’t make me better––it just made me a tired, striving, burnt-out girl.

By beating myself up for perceived imperfections, I had become subconsciously convinced that God would not really love me unless I was perfect. But oh, how far that is from the truth.

We say “comparison is the thief of joy” a lot. It’s easy to notice comparison when you’re comparing yourself to another person and judging your qualities against theirs. But a more subtle type of comparison comes when we are judging ourselves against the person we’re convinced that we should be. But grace does not require us to be perfect in order to receive it. It is so good to recognize weaknesses, and to seek growth in those areas. But when your full focus is on your own weakness, that can so easily become how you define yourself.

Habbakuk 3 says:
“Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls,
YET I will rejoice in the LORD;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.”

Worth does not come from success.
Value does not come from accomplishments.
Purpose does not come from a completed to-do list.

There will still be crappy days, low grades, cranky moods, gloomy skies. And if you and I are trying to glean satisfaction from ourselves and what we can do on our own––we’re going to feel like straight-up failures. But when our worth/value/purpose/joy comes from knowing that there is a God who is with us and doing such great, wonderful things in us, even when we don’t feel it? THAT brings a sweet relief and a calm that whispers into the gloom: “It’s okay. I AM enough. Trust Me.”

To live a life that speaks a message of grace, we must first have grace with ourselves. Self-betterment is a good goal––but that doesn’t mean pushing yourself down whenever you mess up. It means looking at your messy places with compassion. It means seeing yourself exactly as you are, and saying: “I am not all that I think I should be. But I am also not who I once was. I am growing. I’ve spent my whole life searching desperately,
to find out that grace requires nothing of me.”

 

A Seldom Discussed Easter Subject

With Easter coming up and our thoughts on Jesus’ death and resurrection, there is something else said about Jesus that we often overlook and seldom, if ever, talk about. It’s something that, if noticed, could bring profound comfort and freedom. Can you find it in Isa. 53:4, 5?

“He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.”

Have you ever considered that Jesus not only carried our sin to the cross, but He also carried our sorrow and grief? Read the verses again. Do you see it? Jesus is acquainted with our emotions. Who has not felt the darkness of sorrow or grief, alone in loss, regret or disappointment?

What comfort to recognize Jesus not only understands but actually bore our mourning, our heartache and anguish on the cross just as surely as He bore our sin. This is a beautiful, seldom recognized benefit that we must not trivialize.

It’s not just the sudden tragedies that produce profound darkness. Sometimes grief and sorrow stretch out over years or even an entire lifetime. A dying marriage, the silence from a prodigal child, the paralyzing fear of a son or daughter on drugs, the pain of failure, or financial loss of a job …. Darkness produced by a deep and terrifying sorrow.

The Suffering Servant, Jesus, was Himself “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief…,” the One who willfully embraced our sorrow and grief on the cross just as surely as He carried our sins.

Jesus bore the burden of our grief’s and sorrows every bit as much as He bore the full weight of our sins and iniquities!  If Isaiah got it right that, “He was pierced for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities …and with his wounds we are healed”, then he was also right about Jesus bearing our grief’s and carrying our sorrows!  And if sin shall not have dominion over the believer because He healed us of our sins, then neither shall sorrow and grief continue to have the power to bury us in darkness. That is a thought worth celebrating. What joy to contemplate what Jesus did to set us free!

Yes, there is a way out from the prison cell of sorrow! Praise God! It’s the same cross that sets us free from the consequence of our sins. And it’s also the same faith that does it. If you let Jesus bear your sins on Calvary’s cross then you must let Him bear your sorrow and grief as well.

“Restore to me the joy of Thy salvation, And sustain me with a willing spirit” (Psalm 51:12). 

Adapted from: https://www.afa.net/the-stand/faith/2017/04/sin-isnt-the-only-thing-jesus-bore-on-the-cross/

 

Atlanta Bound

Atlanta

Sometimes, remarkable things happen in life where God speaks with such a quiet voice that we need to be alert or we will miss that it is He who has directed. Sometimes, these situations are more like guidance. Let me share an example that recently happened to me.

I had been involved in jail ministry for close to 4 years and was sensing my time there was coming to a close at least for a season. Abruptly, one Sunday, I knew I was done and felt the Lord had a new direction He was about to take me. Within a few weeks, a friend from Florida, Aly, who is president and CEO of Prayer Sisters International called me. She had recently returned from Africa where she had been asked to speak at a conference. “Betsy, I met some amazing women in Kenya who have been praying for someone to teach them the Bible. Would you be interested?” She went on, “While these women are leaders in their churches, they need someone to teach them.”

“I’ll pray about it,” I said. “That sounds right up my alley.” I love spiritual adventures and this definitely sounded intriguing. Two of the women, Josephine and Salome, are pastors along with their husbands, and the third lady, Grace, along with her husband, had started a Christian school with over 800 students. Two of the ladies are conference speakers with rigorous schedules. Wow! I felt humbled that God wanted to entrust such spiritual women to me for ministry in the Word. Of course, I said, “Yes.” So, each week I email them a lesson and then meet individually with them to study the book of Colossians. Our time together is sweet and God’s presence is evident.

But that’s not the end of the story. In conversation with Grace, she mentioned to me that her son lives in Atlanta, here in America. Until recently, he had been working with the Dream Center of Atlanta, a non-profit that reaches out to the homeless, addicts, at risk children, and trafficked women. “How, interesting,” I exclaimed. “It just ‘happens’ that I’ll be in Atlanta in early December. Our women’s ministry leader, Carolyn, is taking a team of us to work at Samaritan’s Purse processing center for the children’s Christmas shoebox ministry. I would love to meet your son.”

With that, Grace gave me her son’s contact information which I immediately followed up on. Carolyn and her team are always looking for new missions projects. Arrangements were made and we had an amazing time with the Dream Center staff. Carolyn felt it was an anointed time and her team, upon arriving home, immediately began forming a plan of how we can reach out in our community.

I tell of these events because this is how God often works. He is all about people and loves networking. God was at work when He spoke to me to teach the Kenyan women. It wasn’t a loud voice I heard. It was more of a knowing. Something in my heart felt a passion to do this. Nor was it a loud voice that said go work at Samaritan’s Purse in Atlanta for a week. It was an inner desire to help with that ministry. And it wasn’t a coincidence that a connection from Africa to Atlanta landed us at the Dream Center. God was moving all the pieces into place. Sometimes, His guidance doesn’t require a “voice” but rather a confidence of heart. Proverbs 16:9 “The mind of man plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.”

 

A Prayer of Faith

During my first six months in Israel I lived in a house on the Mount of Olives owned by our family friend, the Keeper of the Garden Tomb. Sadly he had been killed in the Six Day War, fought just four months before I arrived in Jerusalem.

Every morning I would wake up and open the shutters of my large window, for a straight-on view of the Mosque of Omar.  It was like a dream—hard to believe I was here…on the Mount of Olives—a few yards away from where Yeshua will stand when He returns.

In 1967, the Arab population was still in shock over the totally unexpected collapse of the Jordanian attacking forces. Instead of the Arab Muslim victory they were all expecting, the Israel Defense Forces defeated Jordan, Egypt and Syria and retook Israel’s ancient homeland of Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, Gaza, the Golan Heights and the Sinai Desert—in just six days.

I noticed the Arabs would drive their few cars very carefully and politely—so as not to anger any Israeli driver!  I could walk all over the Arab-populated Mount of Olives and felt perfectly safe.  That was then.

I used to walk north towards Mount Scopus—which is really just an extension of the Mount of Olives.  I would walk around the Hadassah Hospital which had laid in ruins since 1948 when Jordan conquered the West Bank and Eastern Jerusalem.  They had destroyed everything belonging to the Jewish population living there before 1948.

I loved to look down from the mountain towards the Dead Sea and across from there to the land of Moab.  It was always a breathtaking view—Jerusalem situated on the cusp of the heights that separate the watered west side all the way to the Mediterranean Sea, from the desolate and barren Judean Desert to the east.

Believe it or not, I had brought my dog Mimi with me from the U.S.  He was such a cutie that the pilot of the Alitalia flight invited me and Mimi to 1st class and insisted my dog could sit freely on the chair beside me.

1018 - Shira and Mimi in Jerusalem

So Mimi and I would roam the Mount of Olives taking pictures.  At one point, I tied Mimi up to a pole of some kind, as the whole Mount was empty of anyone else as far as I could see, and I wanted to be free with both hands on my camera.

After a little while, I went back to get Mimi, but he was nowhere in sight.  I ran around the whole area, but never saw a single person.  My dog was just gone.

I sat down on the mountain and began to cry and cry.  I said, “Lord, Mimi is the only “person” I have.  He is all I have in this new land.  I hardly know anyone here, and my dog is so important to me.  Lord, someone has stolen my dog…”  I was heartbroken.

Suddenly I got to my feet and said to myself, “I’m going to believe God to find my dog.”  I started praying in the Spirit, and saying, “In the Name of Jesus (back in 1967, Israelis had not yet gone back to using Yeshua’s original name!) I ask you Lord to find my dog.  I know you know where he is, and I proclaim in your Name that You will lead me to my dog!”

I looked around and still didn’t see a human being.  I just started ambling down the hill in the direction of the Old City, praying my heart out and proclaiming in faith that God would restore my dog to me.

I hadn’t gone far when I saw a youth walking a half block ahead of me.  I yelled at him and he turned around.  When I walked up to him, I wanted to ask him if he had seen my dog.  But I didn’t know a word of Arabic, or Hebrew, for that matter.

So I just waved my hands like I had lost something and I started saying “Erf Erf Erf.”  I didn’t think that “Bow Wow” would be a word that an Arab could figure out.

He looked at me for a minute.  And then he waved with his hand for me to follow him.  Still on the mountain, he began to take me through alleys this way and that, winding around a crowded neighborhood of housing I didn’t know existed.  I was proclaiming victory with every fiber of my being.  Finally he pointed at a door and left.

I knocked.  No answer.  More knocking, until finally a woman dressed in a traditional Arab garment opened the door.  I said, “Erf Erf Erf!”  I made my hands like I was carrying a small animal.  The woman shook her head as if she didn’t understand.  I continued, “Erf Erf Erf!”  Now my faith was working, and I had no intention of leaving the place without my answer to prayer.

Finally she disappeared for a minute and voilà!  Out came Mimi!  I smiled at the lady and without waiting for a response, took off with my dog.

At that moment, I felt the Lord clearly taught me a lesson I have never forgotten.  I heard Him speak to my heart:  “If you had just sat down on the mountain and cried your eyes out, sobbing and wailing, you would not have gotten your dog back.  When you stood up, spoke out your request in faith, and then just started moving, I guided you back to Mimi.”

And Mimi lived to a ripe old age in Jerusalem.

Just start moving!  Faith and action is what we have lived by all of these years in our ministry in Israel.

Plans Formed Long Ago

Miracles

Sometimes, it takes many years for a prayer to be answered and interestingly, when we cry out to God, sometimes, we aren’t even aware of how amazingly He will answer in His time. Such was the case in 1988 when the first Messianic Jewish Conference took place in Jerusalem, a conference to celebrate Israel’s 40th year of independence.

As preparations were being made for the conference, the planners ran into a difficult and seemingly insurmountable problem. In searching for a motel to house the attendees, not one hotel would house such an event for Messianic Jews. Beyond that dilemma, the event was planned on the Biblical holiday of Shavuot and on a Sabbath Eve when it would be against the law to use any electrical equipment. No microphones, loudspeakers or musical instruments allowed.

One hotel, the Diplomat hotel, who was filing for bankruptcy, didn’t care about the law and agreed to host the event. Quickly, the hotel filled with guest registrations. Finally, an overflow hotel was needed for 50 Hondurans. Eden hotel, located down the street served that purpose.

The evening of the event arrived with hundreds in attendance. After a passionate teaching by Dr. Michael Brown, the Spirit fell on the congregation with many praying in tongues until the wee hours of the morning.

While seemingly nothing notable came out of the prayer time that night, by faith, many felt they had seriously impacted heaven in the spirit.

Now, jump ahead 30 years to 2018, the 70th anniversary of Israel’s independence. The U.S. is moving their embassy to Jerusalem, Israel’s capital. After TV coverage of the building that would be the temporary embassy, they noted two other buildings that would be used for added space. Yes, you guessed it. The Diplomat Hotel and the Eden Hotel that had housed the Hondurans.

So, what do you think? Could God’s ultimate purpose in bringing together the first Messianic Jewish conference in Jerusalem have been for what is happening today in the restoration of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and the relocation of the U.S embassy to Jerusalem? By the way, Honduras is the third nation to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Never underestimate the power of prayer.

Isaiah 25:1 “O Lord, You are my God; I will exalt You, I will give thanks to Your name; For You have worked wonders, Plans formed long ago, with perfect faithfulness.”

(The full article can be found at: https://www.maozisrael.org/magazine_issues/august-2018/   ).