Sunday, February 26, 2012

True Peace in the Middle East

            While the nations vainly search for a solution to the centuries-old conflict in the Middle East, there is a quiet revolution going on that is bringing true peace to this war torn area.  It is called The Kingdom of God.
            In 1993 my wife and I had the privilege of living in Israel for six months.  While there we attended a prayer conference in Jerusalem.  It was a gathering of over 400 intercessors from around the world.  The worship times were some of the most powerful I have ever participated in because there were Gentiles from many nations, Jewish believers from Israel and Arab Christians from the West Bank.  There was a true spirit of unity and love that flowed back and forth between us and various acts of reconciliation and bridge building were done—a true expression of the universal nature of the Body of Christ.
            This week I received the following report from Israel:
            “When a Jewish Israeli and a Palestinian Arab stand in an airport with their arms thrown around each other’s shoulders and explain to the Lebanese man passing by that they are brothers in Yeshua, the result is awe and wonder on the part of the Lebanese.  That’s exactly what happened to one of our team members who recently returned from a conference…. The Palestinian Christian delegation to the conference was sponsored by [a Messianic Jewish Team].
            The whole world knows of the conflict between Jewish Israelis and Palestinian Arabs.  So when people see a pair such as this, united in their faith with genuine
extraordinary witness to the power and reconciliatory love of Yeshua.”
            The answer to all the turmoil in the Middle East is Yeshua.  When men and women find life and peace in Him, their hearts are changed.  Former terrorists embrace Jews.  Jews sponsor Arabs so they can attend conferences focused on the Prince of Peace.
            When you pray for the peace of Jerusalem, pray that individuals and people groups will find Jesus, Yeshua, Isa—The Prince of Peace.  It will do more for peace in the Middle East and all the diplomacy the nations will ever attempt.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Upside Down

            Sometimes, when we obey God, things don’t go well. 
            When God appeared to Moses in the burning bush, Moses was reluctant to go back to Egypt and offered all sorts of excuses—Pharaoh would not listen, the people would question Who God was, he wasn’t able to speak clearly.  But God over ruled all those excuses and finally Moses obeyed. 
            When he actually began delivering the message God had given him, things really began to fall apart.  Pharaoh not only rejected his message (which God said would happen, so it was no surprise), he accused Moses and all the people of being lazy.  As a result, Pharaoh withdrew the supply of straw to make bricks and made the people go gather their own straw.  On top of that, Pharaoh demanded that the quota of bricks be kept the same.  This created a huge burden for the Israelis and much suffering.  In addition, the Egyptian task masters began to beat the Israeli foremen and when they took their case to Pharaoh, he rebuffed their pleas and accused them of laziness.
            When the foremen came out of the meeting with Pharaoh, they accused Moses and Aaron of causing all this heartache and difficulty. Moses then complained to the Lord:  “Why have You brought harm to this people?  Why did You ever send me?  Ever since I came to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has done harm to this people, and You have not delivered Your people at all.”  Moses is hemmed in between an angry Pharaoh and his own irate, suffering people—all because he simply obeyed what God told him to do.
            It is then, when things seemed the darkest, that God speaks to Moses.  God again outlines His plan and reassures Moses of the covenant He had made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  God also tells Moses what He was about to fulfill through Moses’ obedience.
            If you have been obeying God’s directions to you but things seem to have only gotten worse, don’t give up.  Go back to God.  Talk to Him.  Make sure you are following what He told you to do.  And listen to His voice.  He may give you correction if you are off base.  He may reaffirm His instructions.  But He will always listen.  Don’t let the worsening of the situation get between you and God.  Be confident in Who He is and know the truth of Ps. 56:9b  “This I know, that God is for me.”  If things are upside down, wait on God to turn them back right side up.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Hiding in Eden.

            Adam and Eve hid themselves in the Garden of Eden after they had sinned.  The sense of shame slammed into their consciences and forever changed their relationship to their God.  Instead of sweet fellowship, spirit to spirit, there was an unbelievable chasm between them and the One they had known, up to that fateful moment, as Abba.  The crushing realization that they had betrayed the One who had loved them was too much when they heard Him coming through the garden.  They fled—hoping He would not notice them behind the bush.
            We have been hiding ever since.  We grew up hiding.  We didn’t know we were hiding until a realization crept in during childhood that something was wrong.  When we come to Jesus and experience the joy of His salvation through the New Birth, our spirits are awakened to the love of God for the first time.  The shame is removed.  We experience God’s love that we’ve never known before.
            But learning to live in His presence without shame is difficult for most people.  When we find ourselves falling back into sin, the Holy Spirit is faithful to convict us of our wrong and call us back into fellowship with Abba.  He graciously gives us a way back through I John 1:9:  “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  If we are quick to respond to the callings of Holy Spirit, we can be restored to intimate fellowship with our Father.  We don’t have to hide from Him. 
            For the mature believer who has walked with God for many years and enjoyed daily relationship with the Father, sin is a jarring experience.  The sense of shame and alienation is palpable.  Prayer becomes a struggle.  Intercession for others impossible.  But there is hope!  I John 1:9 works for the old saint just as effectively as for the young saint who is just beginning his walk of intimacy with God. 
            Though the conviction of Holy Spirit is always gut wrenching, it is a good thing that it makes us so uncomfortable.  We are in deep trouble if we ever get to the place of rationalizing our sin and shrugging off the promptings of Holy Spirit as “no big deal—everybody does it”.  So if you are feeling badly over something you’ve done or thought or felt toward someone else, confess it, repent of it, receive God’s forgiveness and cleansing, and start fresh with Abba once more.  Come out of hiding and enter His rest:  “Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through the same example of disobedience.”  Heb.  4:11.