Defensive and Offensive Weapons against the Coronavirus

by Betsy Roy

I am Christian, a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ. I am also a nurse, a wife, a mother and grandmother.

First I will give the practical weapons against bacteria and viruses (like “flu” and “coronavirus”).
  1. WASH your hands!! Wash them well with lots of soap, water and long enough (at least 20 seconds). Get all surfaces of you hands (front, back, between fingers, under nails).  See picture
  2. STAY home if you’re sick! Don’t infect others!
  3. DON’T shake hands and DON’T touch your face and eyes.
  4. SNEEZE and COUGH into tissues and dispose of them.
  5. BUILD UP your immune system. Eat right, get rest, exercise. Take a good multi-vitamin. Extra Vitamin C and D are also a good idea.
  6. SUBMIT to and OBEY the governing authorities of your pastor, employer, community, state and nation regarding meetings, travel and health directives in hospitals, nursing homes, etc. according to Romans 13:1.
Now for the spiritual weapons. the Bible tells us that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal (natural) but mighty through God (2 corinthians 10: 4-5)  so let’s use them!

Believing prayer and saying what God says works! About 18 months ago I received a diagnosis that frankly did scare me at first. So, I understand fear but I didn’t stay there. Here are some of the scriptures the Holy Spirit gave me to fight with and I believe they will work against the flus and coronavirus also.

  1. If you have received Jesus as your Lord and Savior you are a child of God. Know who you are, remind yourself you are not of the world and declare it to the powers of darkness that try to intimidate you with fear. You are a daughter of the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords and HE is in your midst and has taken away the judgments against you and clears away your enemies.  (Zephaniah 3:14 – 17) Sickness is an enemy!
  2. I do not fear bad news! My heart is firm, trusting in the Lord. I am blessed because I fear (reverence in awe) the Lord and greatly delight in His commandments! (Psalm 122: 1, 4 – 8)
  3. God’s Word is life to me and healing to all my flesh. I am attentive to His words. (Proverbs 4: 20-22)
  4. Christ redeemed me from the curse of the law becoming a curse for me. (Galatians 3:13) 
  5. Jesus healed all who were sick, took our illnesses and our diseases. (Matthew 8: 16-17; Isaiah 53: 4-5; 1Peter 2: 24)
  6. Jesus gives life to my mortal body through His Spirit who dwells in me and has set me free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8: 2, 11)
  7. I fight the good fight of faith (1 Timothy 6: 12)
  8. I am strong in the Lord and put on the whole armor of God to stand against the schemes of the devil. I pray at all times in the Spirit. (Ephesians 6: 10 – 18)
  9. I take refuge in the Lord, rather than trust in man. The LORD is my strength and my song and has become my salvation. (Psalm 118: 8-9, 14)
  10. I do not think like everyone else does. I wait for the LORD and put my hope in Him. (Isaiah 8: 11) His thoughts are higher than man’s thought and His ways are higher than man’s ways. (Isaiah 55: 8-9)

Finally, stay in peace. Stay your mind upon God.  Do not give into fear or be anxious. Rejoice in the Lord! (Philippians 4: 4-6) Stop listening to and watching the news all the time, including social media. I’m not saying stick your head in the sand, but don’t let yourself get bombarded by all the hype either.

Let’s pray together………..Father God you are on the throne! You are greater than any sickness or disease including the coronavirus. I thank you that I am your daughter and that my household and those who live in it are under the protection of the shed blood of Jesus. I do not fear for myself nor my family. I do pray for those who have been afflicted by flus and coronavirus. I ask for your mercy and healing. Along with my brothers and sisters in the faith I raise the standard of the blood of Jesus against this flood of sickness knowing that your WORD prevails against all the power of the enemy. We stand firm in expectation of the victory you bring. Amen.

Betsy Roy is the Director of Women of the Word, an inter-generational ministry dedicated to helping women grow as disciples of Jesus by applying God’s Word through the power of the Holy Spirit. WOW holds conferences, retreats, Bible seminars and trips to Israel

Betsy and her husband Jim lead the trips to Israel, which include visiting with local believers, both Messianic and Arab. Together they have 3 daughters and 4 grandchildren which are the delight of their hearts. God’s mercy endures from generation to generation.

 

Israel 2020: Maranatha, Ministry, Prayer and More!

by Betsy Roy 

It’s always an adventure to go to Israel and there is always more to learn.

This trip in January 2020 was no different! This was not a tour, but rather a trip to attend the Maranatha Conference in the Golan, visit and pray with believers in the land, and do some scouting for the upcoming Amazing Israel Adventure tour in 2021. Rose-Marie Slosek, a Women of the Word Board Member, Kathleen Annis of Thirsty Soul Ministries and I traveled together. We really had some adventures along the way. It rained a lot but this is a blessing. The Sea of Galilee is almost full. Israel has had more rain this year than in the past 50 years! Glory to God!

Everyone loves pictures so let me begin with that! You can find pictures of this trip on Flickr. To see pictures of past Israel tours click here.

We began by visiting with believers in Tel Aviv and having the blessing of attending Shabbat dinner with the wonderful Mizrachi family. Avi is an Israeli born Jewish believer in Yeshua (Jesus) as Messiah, Hallelujah! His beautiful daughters have all served in the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces). Chaya, his wife is a strong believer and we had a wonderful time of worship and prayer together in their beautiful ministry center (Dugit) overlooking Tel Aviv. Their daughter OrEl led us in anointed worship and she also has started street worship and ministry in a popular gathering place around a fountain in Tel Aviv. She is taking worship to the streets, Glory to God!

Then it was off to the Golan in northern Israel for the Maranatha Conference with FAI (Frontier Alliance International). The word “Maranatha” is an Aramaic word meaning “The Lord has come!” and can also be an expression for “The Lord is coming (back)!” It is a declaration of our faith! People of every age and from many nations including Israel attended this gathering. Rose-Marie had taken a year long online course with FAI and invited Kathleen and I to join her at the conference. Personally I felt this conference to be very authentic. There was a simple but beautiful love for the Lord exhibited. Speakers came from many different nations with the central theme being making disciples through personal relationships and around the table. In the USA we tend to “invite people to church”. We were challenged to “invite people to your home around the table” having open dialogue about Jesus’ teachings. I am still processing  how to incorporate what I learned within our culture, which is not as hospitable as Middle Eastern Culture. FAI reaches previously unreached people groups primarily in the Middle East.  There were also speakers from places like Tibet, Uganda, South America, Germany and Israel talking about making disciples. So what about the USA?  Well, we have “unreached people” right here. Pray to the Lord about how to reach them beyond our traditional methods. I was very challenged to think outside the box. You can read more about this strategic event here.

After the conference we spent several days in the Mount Carmel region visiting with both Arab and Jewish believers, attending another Shabbat dinner in the home of beloved friends, and Saturday Shabbat service with the congregation at Kehilat Carmel where Karen Davis and Colin Mitchel spoke on “Pursuing God’s Presence”.  While I felt the Lord minister to me personally, I also felt challenged to press into prayer and worship for the lost and the next generation. I received a promise from Isaiah 29: 22-24. While in context this verse is speaking to Israel, we as grafted-in believers, can also pray this promise over our households and our nation. Will you join me in believing the Lord to accomplish it?

A highlight of the trip was going with Renee of Ima’s Goodies to visit with IDF soldiers to give them goodies and let them know they are loved.

We drove deep into the heart of Samaria. Renee has an amazing way of lovingly relating with the soldiers. She is completely disarming and they love her. She goes out at least two nights a week, driving to bases around the country including along the borders. Young men and women are required to serve in the IDF! It is quite something to see 18 and 19 year olds carrying loaded machine guns ready to defend their nation. Currently Renee is preparing to give out 900 goodie bags to soldiers for Purim. She has an oven, donated by a church in Malaysia that can bake 280 cookies at one time. Most of what she gives out is home-made so this is a tremendous amount of work. And she doesn’t give out little bags. She gives out BIG amounts to each soldier. Her car trunk was completely filled up the night we went out and quickly emptied! If you’d like to give to this worthwhile cause please visit Ima’s Goodies

We spent some special time on the Sea of Galilee at Capernaum and at the beautiful Magdala site and hotel. While I have visited the amazing archeological

part of the mosaic at Magdala

site of the First Century synagogue discovered there before, the hotel had just opened recently. What a lovely place! I’ve already reserved rooms there for the 2021 Amazing Israel Adventure so come on along! We had the opportunity to spend time with Hermana, an intercessor and we prayed and talked together about how the Lord is moving today. Hermana ignited my heart with some prayer strategies I am going to incorporate into Women of the Word. More on this to come so stayed tuned!

Our last days were spent in Jerusalem. Really there is no city like it !

We stayed in an apartment that overlooks the Mt. of Olives and Mt. Zion and spent one day driving down to the Beersheva area for prayer and worship at the home of Avner and Rachel Boskey. Rachel blessed us by taking us to the Fountain of Tears in Arad, and also to see some incredible views of the wilderness and the southern end of the Dead Sea. Amazing! We did spend a day in Jerusalem going to the Old City (of course) and the “Shuk” (marketplace) as well as praying at Succat Hallel. Jerusalem is a must experience for every believer in my opinion.

A hot topic of conversation was the “Deal of the Century” which was unveiled while we were in Jerusalem. I always love to get the perspective of believers in the land because they are the ones “living” it. Rachel Boskey gave us some background from years ago and this was very helpful. Also, this article, written by a leader in the Messianic community in Israel adds some perspective that we here in the US typically do not consider. Take the time to read it, especially ponder the last paragraph. Hmmm…

While we visited and prayed with Arab and Jewish believers, we were also able to bless them financially thanks to the generosity of many at Women of the Word. 

As we have come to share in the spiritual blessings of Jewish believers, so we aught also to be of service to them in material blessings (Romans 16:27). Thank you ladies for obeying God’s Word — it was a joy to bless them on your behalf! While seeing the biblical sites is wonderful, spending time with fellow believers in the land is the best! We get to share in their joys and their struggles and learn how to pray and support them more effectively.  God cares about Israel and so should we (Deuteronomy 11:12). Israel is about people and land. When I travel to Israel my desire is to touch both. More pictures of the trip here.

Betsy Roy is the Director of Women of the Word, an inter-generational ministry dedicated to helping women grow as disciples of Jesus by applying God’s Word through the power of the Holy Spirit. WOW holds conferences, retreats, Bible seminars and trips to Israel

Betsy and her husband Jim lead the trips to Israel, which include visiting with local believers, both Messianic and Arab. Together they have 3 daughters and 4 grandchildren which are the delight of their hearts. God’s mercy endures from generation to generation.

 

 

Ministry to Refugees, Soldiers and Believers in Israel

by Betsy Roy

On January 14, 2020 I will be departing again for Israel with one of our Women of the Word Board Members Rose-Marie Slosek. I would love for you to be part of this trip. We need your prayers and support to bless refugees, soldiers and believers in Israel.

Our first stop is in Tel Aviv where we will have time with our brothers and sisters at Dugit Ministries. We will be going to their new ministry center and prayer room and sharing a Shabbat meal together. Then it’s on to the Golan for a thee day conference with FAI Missions who minister to unreached people groups in Syria and amongst the Kurdish people. We are looking forward to hearing about the work the Lord is doing there, how to pray more effectively for the Middle East and how Women of the Word can come alongside in support of the region.

Along our way we have scheduled times to visit with both Jewish and Arab believers in various parts of Israel. We will spend time with our brothers and sisters at Carmel in worship and prayer and blessing the Women’s and Children’s Shelter there. We have a unique opportunity to be with Renee of Ima’s Goodies to visit Israeli soldiers and bless them with goodies. We are also doing some one-on-one visits with some Arab sisters, including Rania and Randa, and Messianic sisters like Carolyn Hyde and some others that live on a kibbutz.

Going to Beersheva to be a part of Avner and Rachel Boskey’s worship watch is also on our itinerary as well as time in Jerusalem to pray and bring blessings to brothers and sisters there.

I will be scouting out some places for the Amazing Israel Adventure tour scheduled for April 2021 where we read the Bible on location at sites, pray, worship and visit with believers in the land. Always more to learn in Israel. God’s eyes is always upon His land (Deuteronomy 11:12) and ours should be too!

Please pray for us and for Israel. You can give a donation towards blessing the refugees, soldiers, and believers and their ministries in Israel. Mark your donation “Israel” please. Together with your help we can be a blessing and share God’s love and care. Thank you and the Lord bless you with His peace.

“Who will have pity on you, O Jerusalem, or who will grieve for you? Who will turn aside to ask about your welfare?”                                                               ~ Jeremiah 15:15 

 

Which Scarlet Letter Do You Wear?

by Yvonne Beals

As Christmas draws to a close, at least the day we celebrate Christmas, i had just settled down for a long winter’s nap when i could feel my complete face covered in severe scarring.

I asked the question, “What is this?” I was immediately reminded of The Scarlet Letter A for adultery and immediately the thought that some of GOD’s children are wearing a scarlet letter on their personhood which doesn’t belong to them like physical scars came to mind. Perhaps words of others, or actions of their own, words like failure, rejection, scorn but GOD is willing to make an exchange and set them free. I thought I will remember this to write it in my journal in the morning, and then the word A for absolve was clear as a bell and I needed to write this tonight. I got up and looked up the word absolve with Google dictionary – “it means to set or declare someone free from blame, guilt, or responsibility.”

In the book The Scarlet Letter, Hester Prynne is publically ridiculed and shamed for having giving birth to an illegitimate daughter while her husband was out to sea. She was publically humiliated and paid penance required of her. She was an excellent seamstress and fashioned herself the letter A to be worn on her dress as a public display of having committed adultery. There are many lessons in this little read.

It seems to me tonight there are those who have adorned themselves with the shame of a scarlet letter worn publically for all to see because of life circumstances and choices made. This resulting in a weight being born that is too cumbersome resulting in rejection, brokenness, and little hope. The fear within of rejection being as real as an actual rejection.

I recall in earlier years of studying the Bible being told there is a scarlet thread that goes from cover to cover in the Word of God. That scarlet thread covers all shame, it hems you in before and behind (Ps 139). That scarlet thread is redemptive.

Isaiah 1:18 NLT “Come now, let’s settle this, ” says the LORD, “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.” Wearing a scarlet letter that the enemy has imposed upon you or that vain imagination has cultivated is ill-fitting, and a wrong assessment of who a child of GOD really is.

If one must wear a scarlet letter let it be an A for being absolved. As a child of GOD, the exchange is clear, you have been blood-washed, cleansed and set free from shame and the blame game. You are not rejected, nor do you have to live out your life paying public shame. The Word of GOD tells us that JESUS bore our sin and our sorrows. Because of Isiah 53:4, there is a new garment for us to wear, it is a garment that has been fashioned for us found in Isaiah 61:3 ESV “…to grant those who mourn in Zion – to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”

As believers, we have been absolved, anointed, and assured that as we walk in the light of who GOD says we are, even if we have committed sin, or have a reason for shame, HE bore our shame and forgives our sins. I John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, HE is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” The only scarlet letter that should be adorned that defines the Believer is the one that is fashioned from the scarlet thread seen from cover to cover front to back, back to the front of the Word of God which gives absolute assurance in the atonement of Jesus Christ.

My prayer as i go to lay my head back onto my pillow is this; if you are one who has been carrying shame that is no longer yours to bear, sin that has been forgiven (and I might add forgotten by GOD – Micah 7:19, Psalms 103:12) then maybe this is encouraging to you. Find someone who you trust, who is mature in the Word who you can confide in and will agree to pray with you (James 5:15) that you will be set free from the oppressiveness and can walk in the light never to adorn yourself with false names like a failure, rejected, scorned ever again. And then testify of your new freedom to encourage others in finding their freedom. John 8:36 – If the SON sets you free, you shall be free indeed.”

Yvonne Beals

Yvonne holds a Bachelors in Theology, is a Master Certified Life Coach, holds diplomas in Christian Education and Biblical Counseling. Her life motto is, “Allowing the petals of your life to unfold in His love” as she partners with women in their journey of learning to be over-comers and reaching for their potential in Christ Jesus. Her passion includes her family, quiet walks by oceans edge and leading others to faith in Christ.

 

The International Flavor of Serving in Israel

by Jill Czelusta –  Representative for Bridges for Peace

This is the fourth summer that the Lord has provided the funds for me to volunteer with Bridges for Peace in Jerusalem.  Each summer has become more and more enjoyable because of the friendships that have formed while serving the Jewish people in His Land.  Bridges for Peace (BFP) is an international organization with offices in at least eight different nations, so there are volunteers who come from all over the world.  Since I have had the privilege to return each summer, I have made friends with several long term volunteers that I keep in contact with throughout the year, and I make new ones with each visit.

This past Shabbat the volunteers who are here by themselves, like me, decided to get together for dinner.  As a short term volunteer, you are always invited to someone’s home for Shabbat, but this time we hosted ourselves at one of the volunteer’s apartment.  With the 10 of us around the table, nine countries were represented:  France, England, Northern Ireland, South Africa, Namibia, Russia, Japan, Canada and the United States.  Ages ranged from early 20’s to 60 something.  The evening was filled with questions about how each of us ended up volunteering with BFP.  One by one, amazing stories were told of how God directed their steps and then faithfully provided for the call.  Over and over I heard my story.  First it was a dream to come and serve in Israel.  Each one had heard of BFP and how you could volunteer. Each one did not think they would have the funds to come, but God miraculously provided.  Three of them were young people who participated in the Zealous Project – an 11 month discipleship program for 18-30 year olds. When they completed that, they chose to return and serve some more.  Some were in midlife and just wanted to serve here in Jerusalem.  Some, like me, are spending their summer vacation here both serving and taking in the sights of Jerusalem and greater Israel on the weekends.

The other amazing thing that I have noticed is that when we go out on a delivery to bring food to the elderly Holocaust survivor, they always ask, “Where are you
from?”  One time I am with someone from Japan.  The next time I am with someone from New Zealand, then Canada, then England, then Ireland.  Each time, the Jewish person is so surprised that people from all over the world love them enough to spend their time and resources to carry a bag of groceries to their small apartment and to sit down and visit with them.  We listen to the stories – some very hard to hear – but necessary to hear, and remember. We cry together, and then laugh together as they tell of their children, grandchildren and great grand-children.  Then there are the hugs…the best part!

I am so thankful that the Lord has chosen to use me for this amazing ministry to the poor, the elderly and new immigrants of Israel.  I had the opportunity to deliver new school supplies and backpacks to a school in Bet Shemesh that BFP has been working with for 14 years.  The parents and students arrived and immediately began to hug the BFP staff and those from the Jewish agency that we partner with for this project.  I was surprised to see such appreciation for what I consider such a small gift – a backpack and assorted school supplies.  I also learned that BFP helps to pay the book fees for some of these students.  One of the parents thanked us because her son was one of those who received the help.  She said that for the first time last year, he received his books on the first day of school like most of the other kids.  He came home so happy that day and it made a difference for the whole year. She could not say thank you enough.

I will end with this.  As a Food Floor Worker, I come in contact with the families that come in once a week to receive their food parcels of fresh fruit and vegetables, dairy, meat and canned goods.  I have the opportunity to greet them and, if they speak English, get to talk with them a bit.  Regardless, every one shakes my hand and says ‘Toda,’ or thank you.  One couple came into the work area because they insisted on saying thank you to everyone there.  They had ‘graduated,’ and this would be their last time to pick up food.  They had been on the program for one year and it was enough to get them on their feet and to get a job to provide for themselves.  They were so full of joy and so thankful.  They had experienced the love of Jesus through perfect strangers and the generosity of Christians from around the world.

I know that I am there to be a blessing, but I know I receive way more than I give out! Thank you to Women of the Word for your prayers and support throughout the years!

About Jill Czelusta: Jill visited Israel for the first time on a Bridges for Peace tour in 1995, returned in 2004, and has had a love for the Land and a heart for the Jewish people ever since. Jill is a friend of Women of the Word and has also been to Israel with WOW.  This is her fourth summer volunteering at the BFP Jerusalem Assistance Center.  She is a graduate of Institute of Israel Studies and is currently enrolled at Master’s International University of Divinity pursuing a Master’s Degree in Judeo-Christian Synergism.  During the school year, she teaches AP Chemistry, AP Physics, and pre-calculus at a private Christian school in northern Vermont.  Her undergraduate degree is in Chemistry from Virginia Tech. Her other favorite pastime is visiting her 2 children and their families. Jill will be leading a tour of Israel in the summer of 2020.

Celebrating Shavuot/Pentecost

by Betsy Roy

On the Hebrew calendar Shavuot occurs fifty days after the Feast of First Fruits. On the Christian calendar Pentecost occurs fifty days after Jesus’ Resurrection.

They are the same day since Jesus was resurrected on the Feast of First Fruits! The Old Testament Feast of Shavuot (or Weeks) is an agricultural feast celebrating the wheat harvest and also called the Feast of Reaping or Harvest. While not supported in the Biblical text, Rabbinic tradition teaches that at this time God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai. Pentecost in the New Testament commemorates the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the 120 gathered in the Upper Room and their empowerment to spread the Gospel. Indeed, 3000 new believers came into the Kingdom that day (Acts 2) and were baptized. Wouldn’t we like to receive 3,000 new believers into our congregations today? That is a mighty move of the Holy Spirit upon the hearts of men and women!

We need both the Word of God (His teachings and instructions) and the Spirit of God to guide us and teach us.

The Holy Spirit is our teacher and he brings to our remembrance all that Jesus taught. Jesus himself spoke the scriptures many times in various situations. Growing up as a Jewish man within a Jewish community, Jesus studied the scriptures, went to the synagogue and celebrated the Feasts of the Lord going up to Jerusalem to be in God’s House (the Temple). After being baptized in the Jordan River, the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil and Jesus met every temptation by speaking God’s Word from Deuteronomy (see Luke 4).

Jesus’ example shows us how much we need to know God’s Word and need the Holy Spirit to rightly apply God’s Word in our lives. It’s not one without the other. There are many voices competing for our attention today. As believers we need to know whose voice is speaking to us as the enemy of our souls surely tries to get us to listen to his voice. The Holy Spirit will never contradict God’s Word. Therefore, to know the voice of the Spirit, we must also know what the Word of God says. The Spirit will bring understanding, illumination, revelation and confirmation of God’s Word, but never speak contrary to it. So, it’s the Word and the Spirit together!

Are you struggling with Life Issues, not knowing what to do today?

Go to God’s Word, the Bible and ask the Holy Spirit to help you. He will! Perhaps you need a Redeemer – His name is Jesus – and he will forgive you of every sin if you ask him and then give you strength and power to live free of sin by the power of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps you need direction? Again, the Holy Spirit and the Word of God will help you. The Lord never turns away a sincere heart that comes to him.

Commemorating Shavuot and Pentecost is celebrating the WORD and the SPIRIT. Let’s be thankful God gave us both and pray and work towards a great harvest of souls into God’s Kingdom! 

Betsy Roy is the Director of Women of the Word, an inter-generational ministry dedicated to helping women grow as disciples of Jesus by applying God’s Word through the power of the Holy Spirit. WOW holds conferences, retreats, Bible seminars and trips to Israel

Betsy and her husband Jim lead the trips to Israel, which include visiting with local believers, both Messianic and Arab. Together they have 3 daughters and 3 grandchildren which are the delight of their hearts. God’s mercy endures from generation to generation.

The Amazing Israel Adventure

by Sue Priebe

The Amazing Israel Adventure has been aptly named, as the 2019 trip was just that. Any trip to Israel is “amazing” in itself, but this one was extraordinary. Any tour can visit the same Biblical places, but the combination of people that the Lord put together for this trip combined with the Holy Spirit directed and anointed teaching on the actual sites where our Lord walked, taught, lived and died and rose again made this trip unlike any other.

The two pieces of experiencing the Bible “on location,” as Betsy would say, included visiting the historic sites from Jesus’ and even Abraham’s time and even seeing the prophetic unfold before our eyes. It is impossible to write about the historical places we visited without sounding like a travel book. Instead I want to highlight a few places focusing on the spiritual impact they had in my life.

Our first stop was Caesarea by the Sea, a Roman and very pagan town. Jews avoided this place, but Peter answered the call of God and came to the house of a Gentile at the command of the Holy Spirit and at the invitation of Cornelius (Acts 10). This was the revelation to the all-Jewish church that the Gospel must be shared with the Gentiles according to scripture: Isaiah 49:6, “You will do more than restore the people of Israel to me. I will make you a light to the Gentiles, and you will bring my salvation to the ends of the earth” (NLT). Peter’s lesson at Caesarea is to obey the voice of God even when He seems to ask us to do things which go against the culture of the day. Culture will often lead us away from the will of God as laid out in His Word.

Shiloh was a place I had never visited before…

Driving through the hills of Samaria, we came to the spot where the Ark of the Covenant stood for 369 years through the period of the judges, through Samuel’s life until King David brought the Ark into Jerusalem. Standing on the location where the tabernacle once stood, I could picture the tribes coming across the hills from all corners of Israel to seek the presence of God at Shiloh. What a journey was required of them three times a year!

When they arrived at Shiloh, they still had to remain apart from the Presence… which was hidden from them in the Holy of Holies. As I consider Shiloh and the presence of God, I am thankful for the work of Jesus. “And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him…” (Hebrews 10:21-22). Has the availability of God’s Presence lead us to take Him for granted? “Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob” (Psalm 114:7). I want never to take His presence for granted.

Traveling up to Jerusalem is always emotional for me. Reading the Psalms of Ascent as we near the city and finally getting the first glimpse of the City of our King always brings tears to my eyes. It seems to me that once you have encountered God in His City, a person is never the same. It is as if part of my heart stays in Jerusalem, and it is only upon returning that my heart is whole once again. Praying at the Western Wall and in the Garden of Gethsemane, walking on the ancient streets, standing on the southern steps leading to the temple mount, praying for one another at the Pools of Bethesda ….all such “amazing” experiences.

But the place that touched my heart this time was Caiphas’ House where Jesus was taken for trial.

The ancient path on which He was lead has been uncovered, and it is easy to picture what the courtyard must have been like that night when Peter followed to the place where He would deny His Lord. Luke 22 relates an incident that none of the other Gospel writers include. Jesus, who was probably being moved to another place of trial, at the moment of Peter’s denial turned, “At that moment the Lord turned and looked at Peter” (v. 61). What did Peter see in those eyes? Peter saw God’s heart in the eyes of Jesus, which lead him to repentance. I am reminded of God’s never-ending love. I am encouraged to know that when I meet the eyes of Jesus, He will always be looking at me with a heart full of love. Condemnation never comes from the Lord for “God’s kindness leads you to repentance” (Romans 2:4).

The historical Biblical experiences were indeed “amazing,” but even more “amazing” was seeing the Words of Prophecy unfold before our eyes. The very existence of the nation is a fulfillment of God’s Promise. Isaiah 66:8 says “Who has ever seen anything as strange as this? Who ever heard of such a thing? Has a nation ever been born in a single day?” Yes, we have now heard of such a thing because that is exactly how the nation of Israel came into being.

In Isaiah 35:1-2 the Lord declares “Even the wilderness and desert will be glad in those days. The wasteland will rejoice and blossom with spring crocuses. Yes, there will be an abundance of flowers and singing and joy! The deserts will become as green as the mountains of Lebanon, as lovely as Mount Carmel or the plain of Sharon. There the Lord will display his glory, the splendor of our God.

I have previously visited Israel in the spring, but never have I seen such beautiful green hills and blooming flowers. It was reported to us that the rainy season that had just ended produced the greatest amounts of rain in more than fifty years! Rain is a blessing from God. I Kings 8:35-36 tells of the relationship between disobedience and drought and calling on God and rain: “…when they pray toward this place and confess Your name, …send rain on Your land which You have given to Your people as an inheritance.” (NKJV) I believe we saw the result of God’s people crying out to Him. The Messianic community (Jewish believers in Jesus) in Israel is growing. I believe God sent this past rainy season as an encouragement to His believers. God wants to remind then that He sees: “the land…drinks water from the rain of heaven, a land for which the Lord your God cares; the eyes of the Lord your God are always on it, from the beginning of the year to the very end of the year” (Deuteronomy 11:11-12).

Perhaps the most important prophetic move taking place in Israel today is the creation of the “one new man” described in Ephesians 2. God is miraculously working, sometimes behind the scenes, to bring about unity between Arab and Jewish believers. He is the Prince of Peace and the only hope for peace in the Middle East. “For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity…so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that he may reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity” (Ephesians 2:14-16 NKJV). We were blessed to spend time with the “living stones”, believers both Jewish and Arab in the land. We shared special times of worship, prayer, fellowship and learning from them.

What an “amazing” blessing it was to be a part of the 2019 Amazing Israel Adventure. It has impacted my life, and I know the lives of every person who answered the call of God to join the tour, bringing us closer to Him as we experienced more than can ever really be put into words.

Sue Priebe is Associate Pastor at City of Hope Church in Janesville, Wisconsin, a Chaplain for Marketplace Chaplains and serves on the Board of Directors for Women of the Word. She is passionate about teaching the Word of God in ways that are relevant and applicable to daily life. She also has a deep love for Israel and travels there frequently connecting with believers there and teaching God’s Word on location. 

 

A Fresh Look at the Passover/Last Supper Connection

by Sue Priebe

This year (2019) the celebration of the Feasts of the Lord of Passover, Unleavened Bread and Firstfruits converges with Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday. May the Lord bless you as you celebrate these days in remembrance of Him.  

The story told in the Gospels of the last supper is one that is very familiar to most people who attend church, but recently I watched a series by Ran Vander Laan that brought me to a deeper understanding of Jesus’ actions during that last Passover meal He ate with His disciples.

It is easy to miss important details when the story is so familiar…

But digging into those details can help us to more fully understand what Jesus did for us when He suffered and died on the cross.  Jesus told His disciples in Luke 22:15-16,I have really wanted so much to celebrate this Seder with you before I die!  For I tell you, it is certain that I will not celebrate it again until it is given its full meaning in the Kingdom of God.” (CJB)

I am sure the disciples didn’t understand what He was saying.  They were probably even more confused when Jesus said,  referring to a cup of wine,  “Take this and share it among yourselves.  For I tell you that from now on, I will not drink the ‘fruit of the vine’ until the Kingdom of God comes.” (Luke 22:17-18 NLT) Luke’s rendering makes it seem as if Jesus didn’t drink any wine at the supper.

Both Matthew and Mark include this statement, but the timing is a little different.  They indicate that Jesus said He wouldn’t drink wine again right after He said “This is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and His people.  It is poured out as a sacrifice for many.  I tell you the truth, I will not drink wine again until the day I drink it new in the Kingdom of God.” (Mark 14:24-25 NLT)  So why is that statement of Jesus so significant?

In order to understand Jesus’ actions on the night He instituted what we now call The Lord’s Supper, or communion, we have to remember what was being celebrated at the Passover meal.

Passover commemorates God bringing the children of Israel out of Egypt.

During the meal the story of the Exodus is retold; in key places during the telling of the story, wine is drunk. Traditionally there are four cups of wine involved although in Jesus’ time there may have only been one cup which was sipped four times.

The drinking corresponds to the four promises of deliverance found in Exodus 6:6-7:  “Therefore, say to the people of Israel:  ‘I am the Lord. (1) I will free you from your oppression and (2) will rescue you from your slavery in Egypt.  (3)  I will redeem you with a powerful arm and greats acts of judgment.  (4) I will claim you as my own people, and I will be your God.’

The promises include:

  1. Physical deliverance from Egypt;
  2. A removing of the slave nature;
  3. A cleansing from the sin of Egypt; and
  4. A promise of protection as God claims them for His own.

Putting the Gospels together, we see from Luke that Jesus offered them the cup of the new covenant “after they had eaten.”  This is significant because it would indicate that this would have been the third cup of the Seder meal, the cup of redemption, which was always drunk after the meal.  It is very clear in Matthew and Mark that Jesus did not drink after that, and Luke might make us wonder if He drank any of the wine that night.  Why did Jesus break with tradition and refrain from drinking the wine during the Passover meal?

Why did He skip that fourth cup?

That fourth cup representing the fourth promise was the one in which God declared He would take the Children of Israel as His own; it was the promise of God’s protection. You see, Jesus knew for Him on that night there would be no protection by the Father.  His arrest and conviction would lead Him to the cross where He “became sin.”  His own dear Father would turn away from Him; there would be no rescue for Jesus, no protection.

There is also a fifth cup in the Seder that no one drinks.  It has traditionally become Elijah’s cup.  The original meaning has been lost over time; it has become a symbol of waiting for Elijah, who is to come before the Messiah.

During the second century, rabbis debated about this fifth cup of the Seder.  Some thought that there was a fifth promise in Exodus 6, the promise of the land; others thought the fifth cup should be the cup mentioned in Jeremiah 25:15-17…the “cup of iniquity” or the “cup of wrath” that God declared to Jeremiah He would cause the nations to drink.

“Take from my hand this cup filled to the brim with my anger, and make all the nations to whom I send you drink from it.”  The rabbis couldn’t agree about this fifth cup, so they said they would wait and let Elijah answer the question when he came; therefore, there is a cup in the Seder which is left for Elijah.

I am convinced that the fifth cup is the “cup of iniquity” described by Jeremiah.  Remember in the Garden Jesus prayed, “Father if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will but yours be done.”  Could it have been that fifth cup that Jesus was praying about.  He was about to drink the cup of iniquity…the sins of mankind were placed upon Him.  He was to suffer as no man has ever suffered.

He drank that cup willingly.  He refused the protection of the Father, and He drank the cup of God’s wrath so we would never have to drink from it.

What a sacrifice He made and what love He showed.  That sacrifice and that love guaranteed that the promises of Exodus 6, and all of the promises of the Bible, are available to us.  God promises to deliver us, to take away our slave nature, to redeem us, and to claim us as His own people!  “For as many as are the promises of God, in Christ they are all answered ‘Yes.’ So through Him we say our ‘Amen” to the glory of God.” (2 Corinthians 1:20 AMP)

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Sue Priebe is Associate Pastor at City of Hope Church in Janesville, Wisconsin, a Chaplain for Marketplace Chaplains and serves on the Board of Directors for Women of the Word. She is passionate about teaching the Word of God in ways that are relevant and applicable to daily life. She also has a deep love for Israel and travels there frequently connecting with believers there and teaching God’s Word on location. The above teaching was recently shared by Sue at the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem during the Amazing Israel Adventure Tour

Abortion: Trading in Lies for Truth, Forgiveness, and Freedom

By Lisa Gould

“Listen to advice and accept instruction that you may gain wisdom for the future.” ~ Proverbs 19:20

I spend a lot of time talking with ladies age eighteen to eighty while sipping coffee, tea, or the occasional Coke Zero. They come to me because they are hurting, need advice or are in a trial of some kind. They believe I can provide Biblical insight and wisdom for their situation. Many life-changing conversations have happened at one of the local cafes or at someone’s kitchen table. I’m about to let the cat out of the bag! Up until now it’s been a secret between me and the Holy Spirit, but I really have no idea what I’m doing. I just show up with coffee in hand, weave some portion of my testimony into our conversation like overcoming the shame of abortion, breaking free from abuse, walking in spiritual authority and identity through the power of Christ’s Fierce Forgiveness and VOILA the Holy Spirit takes it from there.

Speaking the truth of God’s Word, I’ve seen strongholds broken, chains loosed, wisdom gained, and freedom and victory in Christ attained. Many of the ladies God connects me with have had abortions and have held on to shame in secret, sometimes for decades. Through sharing our stories with one another in a safe environment, they begin to see with spiritual clarity the lies they have believed and the prison they have been in. Nine times out of ten, the root of their spiritual imprisonment is unforgiveness towards themselves, someone else, or even God. They need to be forgiven and fiercely forgive!

Lately I’ve been thinking about what I would say to my eighteen-year-old self if I could sit down and grab a coffee with her like I do with these women.

For the average eighteen-year-old, graduating from high school is a year of exciting changes. The world is their oyster, full of options and opportunities that can set the course for the rest of their lives. I was no exception to feeling that excitement. I had a full scholarship to college and had planned to become a kindergarten teacher. I was excited about the future because I was finally going to be free from the abusive and alcoholic home I had grown up in. I had planned to move on campus away from it all. However, that excitement all came to a screeching halt when during my senior year I found out I was pregnant.

I was told many times as a teenager by my mother that if I ever came home pregnant, I would be disowned by both my parents. It was my role in the family to keep everyone happy, and I never wanted to disappoint anyone…especially my parents. My experience was that love and acceptance were always based on how well I performed or behaved. I had no identity or self-esteem and relied on everyone else’s approval to feel accepted and loved. My experience was that if I disappointed one or both of my parents, rejection was the consequence. The father of the baby (who later went on to become my abusive husband of eleven years) said that if I had “it,” that he wouldn’t have any more to do with me. I had no friends; no one I could confide in, no one to turn to. I was so confused and didn’t know what to do. I felt I had no alternative but to have an abortion.

I spent years living with secret shame, never telling a soul.

The only person who knew about the abortion was the father of the baby, and we never spoke of it from the day I had the abortion. I was not brought up in a Christian home and was taught that until a baby is born “it’s just a blob of tissue”. But I knew as soon as I had the abortion that I took the life of a baby. I just knew. I wish I had someone who would have told me there were other options. If only someone was there to confirm what I innately knew in my heart–that I was carrying a little human inside me, not a blob of tissue.

Here’s what I would I say to my eighteen-year-old self or any woman who is contemplating an abortion today: Lisa, I know this pregnancy was not in your plans and the timing is all wrong. You feel alone, scared, and that there is no one to support or help you. You think everyone will abandon you, reject you and shame you because you are pregnant. It appears that every aspect of your life will be ruined if anyone finds out that you are pregnant. You feel so much pressure to have an abortion to keep the peace and make everyone else happy. You’ve been lead to believe that this baby is just a “blob of tissue”’ and not really a baby. Society tells you that it is your right to choose what happens to your body, and you feel societal pressure to just “take care of the problem” by having an abortion. However, those feelings and voices that are screaming in your ear are lying to you! This is a baby and this baby doesn’t have a choice as to whether or not you decide to give or take his or her life. Deep down on the inside of your soul you know the truth, but fear, confusion and panic have clouded your understanding. Lisa, I know you don’t know anything about the Bible, but God speaks timeless truth to us through it. He loves you. He will not reject you, or abandon you in this time of crisis. He wants to help you and this baby. He says in Jeremiah 1:5 “ Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.” This scripture is telling you that He knew you before you were even born. He knew this day would come and that you would have to decide what to do about an unplanned pregnancy. He also knows the little one you are carrying in your belly. He has a plan for this child; a life and destiny for this child to live out. I know you are scared but this pregnancy will only be for nine months of your life. A lot can and will change in nine months. People that you think will reject you may accept and support you. But even if they don’t, and you decide you cannot raise this child, there are many couples who are praying for someone like you to give them a baby like yours to love and raise as their own. Adoption could be God’s destiny for this child. God works all things together for the good! What seems to be your worst nightmare can be someone else’s dream come true. There are many crisis pregnancy agencies that will help you with your prenatal care and connect you with adoption agencies if that is the best decision for you and this little one’s life. Having this baby will be the most selfless and courageous thing you will ever do, and God will be there with you every step of the way!

Unfortunately, I was not there to speak truth to my eighteen-year-old self, and no one else spoke this truth to me either.

Shortly after my high school graduation, I made a decision based on the lies I believed and had an abortion. I carried the tormenting shame for years sabotaging myself at every turn because I felt I needed to be punished for taking my child’s life. In my mid-twenties I asked God to forgive me for the sin of abortion and became a Christ follower. He washed all that shame away by His Fierce Forgiveness. I was able to forgive myself as well. He has redeemed me, set me free and given me beauty for the ashes of my life. There is no sin too great, and no one too far gone for Christ to forgive. Jesus paid the price for all sin, every bit of it when He shed His blood and died on the cross.

If you are a woman who has had an abortion, God wants to take all that shame from you and replace it with His love and acceptance.

Ask Him to forgive you and to restore you. He will do it. I named the son I lost to abortion Isaac, which means laughter. There will be laughter in heaven on that great and glorious day when I see him face to face and can give him all the hugs and kisses I have so longed to give him. If you aborted a child, I encourage you to give that child a name. It’s important to the child and to your healing process. Rest assured, if you are a follower of Christ you will be reunited with your child in heaven one day. I’m thankful to God for His tender mercies and love and everlasting love!

If you are in a crisis pregnancy and don’t know where to turn, contemplating abortion or have had an abortion, you can contact Care-Net.org , Prolifeacrossamerica.org, or Prolifeamerica.org. They will be able to connect you with local agencies to help you with prenatal care, adoption resources (if that is the route that is best for you and the baby) or with post-abortion counseling.

 Lately there have been a lot of outrageous things happening in the political arena when it comes to the loosening of abortion laws. Let’s just call it what it is–infanticide. We must take a stand against what is happening in our country. It all begins with speaking the truth about the lies and deception and declare what abortion truly is–the murder of innocent babies! Check out sba-list.org for 10 Steps to Get Involved with the Pro-Life Movement.

Read Lisa’s blog “Fierce Forgiveness” here. She has recently published a book by that title which you can order here. Shipping and handling is included. Forgiveness sets us free so that the experiences that hurt us no longer hold us hostage and in bondage. Jesus came to set us free! That is good news! Lisa is a ministry partner of Women of the Word .

 

Lisa Gould describers herself as an ordinary lady who encountered THE extraordinary God! Growing up in an abusive home Lisa had an abortion at 18. She married an abusive man at 19 and then got radically saved at the age of 25. She

Lisa Gould

began to realize her identity in Christ and that He did not intend for her to live in abuse. Lisa and her children have been set free from it all! She worked her way off welfare to become a daycare provider and then a kindergarten teacher in a Christian school for 10 years. She has served churches building volunteer teams and overseeing close to 300 people in those ministries. She ministers to many women one on one to speak identity in Christ to them through  encouragement, prayer and  guidance by the power of the Holy Spirit…. which is her ultimate passion! She now lives in the Albany NY area with her husband David. They serve together in providing spiritual guidance to couples through a program called SYMBIS( saving your marriage before it starts). They have 5 grown children between them who live from Maine to British Columbia Canada and places in between. Lisa will never forget the Fierce Forgiveness she has experienced through Christ’s redemption and love!  

 

The Sign of the Almond Blossoms

 by Betsy Roy

As I was writing this recently it was very cold in New England, and very cold in other parts of the United States like Wisconsin, which had a wind child of -50 degrees last week.  Brrrrr……that’s frigid! We had a “taste” of spring for a couple of days early this week, but now it’s back to that damp raw winter feeling. 

We become inpatient in times like this, wondering if spring really will ever come this year! But, God is faithful! It will surely come! 

In February I really start to think about walking in Israel because I have been there in late February and March when it is spring in God’s beautiful land! Almond trees, often blossoming in late January or early February, announce the arrival of spring in Israel! Just looking at this picture of almond blossoms lifts my heart and encourages me! 

Almond blossoms are spoken of several times in the Bible. Numbers 17 gives the account of Aaron’s rod producing blossoms and bearing ripe almonds. Each Chief of each tribe of Israel also had a staff, but only Aaron’s blossomed. This was a sign from God that Aaron was God’s chosen man and it was also a sign against those rebelling against God at the time. They were to make an end of their grumblings lest they die. Selah! 

Remember, that Aaron’s rod was placed inside the Ark of the Covenant along with the Tablets of the 10 Commandments and some shewbread (manna). 

In Exodus 25 God directs Moses in the construction of the golden lampstand (menorah). The cups that hold the oil for lighting are made to look like almond blossoms! We find the lamp stand mentioned several times in the Bible. It is an important element in the Temple where it represents God’s presence and is also mentioned in the Revelation where there are seven golden lampstands representing seven churches. This lampstand (menorah) is Israel’s national emblem and a symbol of rebirth and restoration. There is a huge one standing in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem which you can see when you go there.

In Jeremiah 1:11 the prophet saw an almond branch to which the Lord replied “You have seen well, for I am watching over my word to perform it.” What a beautiful reminder! So, when you see almond blossoms remember not to grumble, that God’s presence is with you, and that HE is watching over His Word and He will bring it to pass in your life, in your family, in our churches and yes even in our nation and the nations of the world. All may seem very dark and cold right now, but take heart! HE is forever faithful and His Word is true! HALLELUJAH!!

Betsy Roy is the Director of Women of the Word, an inter-generational ministry dedicated to helping women grow as disciples of Jesus by applying God’s Word through the power of the Holy Spirit. WOW holds conferences, retreats, Bible seminars and trips to Israel

Betsy and her husband Jim lead the trips to Israel, which include visiting with local believers, both Messianic and Arab. Together they have 3 daughters and 3 grandchildren which are the delight of their hearts. God’s mercy endures from generation to generation.