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)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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! On February 23, 2019 there will be a Day of Mourning for children lost to abortion in Albany, NY where recently the gruesome infanticide bill was passed into law. If you are unable to attend in NY, then please take the time to pray on Saturday, February 23 that our country will repent of this horrific practice. You can also 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! You can come and meet Lisa in person at the Women of the Word Spring Conference “Freedom” March 15 & 16, 2019. Her book will also be available.  Information here.

 

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. 

A Time of Conception

by Briskilla Zananiri

December is usually a month in which we ‘pause’ our regular routines, adapting instead to festive celebrations with friends, family, and even some strangers. The common expectations of this month are many depending upon the culture to which we belong. December brings with it decorating trees, lighting Chanukah candles, buying gifts, baking, choosing a restaurant for a memorable time with friends, reformatting meetings to include “good cheer” to all, thinking of next year coming, and helping a friend in a time of crisis.  The Christmas “To Do List”  fills up fast.

In December we remember Christ’s birth, which carries with it a “warmth,” as many remember the One who came to restore humanity and all of creation. Our thankfulness not only takes us into a personal quiet space, but also into a more grand joyous space of opening our arms to all those around us. He was born for all humankind!!

FOR A MOMENT LET’S GO BACK ABOUT 2000 YEARS TO ISRAEL.

The East was filled with political and religious tensions. Injustice was vibrating through the streets touching the earth with its venom, through tyranny and death. Demanded by Rome, taxes were of illegal measure, being paid for by the labor of children and adults alike. Those who revolted were hung on trees lining the highways of the promised land. In addition, the “church” of the day implemented laws which proudly drew the people to the leader and not to God. Yet among it all, God had a remnant who earnestly waited for the Messiah’s coming. In the midst of darkness, God’s plan was at work. To see through His lens brought hope to all who would dare take a glance. Remember Anna, Simeon, and Nathanial? Yes, there were more.

Let’s go back farther, all the way to the Garden of Eden.

The incredible thought I would like to remind us of today is of His eternal plan, which involved women. God chose women who would embrace the path birthed in the heart of the Maker of Heaven and Earth. Within the garden He chose a woman taken from the man, formed in such splendor as to emulate the Spirit of the Living God. She was to partner with God and man; and in so doing, both man and woman would walk together in full authority. Both were formed in His image. Both were a multiplication of God’s likeness. Both were equal and both so unique.

Without the beauty of His daughters, there would not have been human life reproduced on the earth. Adam and Eve were chosen to begin the generations…to “Be fruitful and multiply.” She who came from man was given stewardship over the safest place on the earth—her womb. For within her womb the woman would carry the creation process of humankind.

2,000 years ago through Mary, God was about to reproduce again….
www.artbycorby.etsy.com

……to multiply His Life. Yes, through the womb of woman, God’s heart (His life) would be seen and heard on the earth. Mary’s womb was the safe place for the conceived seed to bring God’s plan to full gestation.

From the Bible, we know that Elizabeth and Mary were cousins. When Mary visited Elizabeth in the Judean hills, she was in her first trimester and Elizabeth was already in her sixth month. December may have been the time of conception for Mary, when her overshadowing by the Spirit occurred.  September/October would then have been the time of Christ’s birth, near the Feast of Tabernacles, for it is at the time of His birth God was revealed to man in His earthly tabernacle – His flesh suit. This would place Mary and Elizabeth’s visit somewhere between December and February.

Let’s return to the thought of the darkness of the day in which Mary and Elizabeth lived. Christmas trees were not lining the streets at this time, but instead crucifixes. Stars were not hanging from synagogue roofs, but instead despondency and questions were hung on every heart. The aroma of fresh baked cookies was not wafting through neighborhood homes; instead, food was scarce on dinner tables.

Even with all this darkness in the nation, God was still at work. Can you imagine the moments after the angel came to Mary? The mental gentle whiplash or better said “awakening” Mary went through? Did hope fill the air? What followed as she processed? Mary’s mind went through an intense transition as she realized prophesies of old were coming to pass THROUGH HER. She had to adapt to truth in order for her to press through the threshold of “what was” to “what is.” His words changed everything. She was caught in the “dimension of the in-between” for just a moment.

Remaining in the old paradigm would have disqualified her.

Doubt, fear, embitterment because of the current political and religious environment would have shut her out of partnering with God.

She heard,

she perceived truth,

she believed,

she yielded,

she accepted change,

she adapted,

she acted,

she decreed,

she became.

I’m not so sure she knew she was creating a formula for reformation, but it is one which I’d like to present as an important rhythm to consider, as we also move into a season of birthing within the New Day. Yes, we have reached the gates of the Last Day Bride.

Mary and Elizabeth became mothers in impossible situations: One to the Announcer of the Messiah; the other, to Messiah – Eternal King.

We know that Elizabeth carried within her Christ’s earthly cousin. He exemplified for us the paradigm shift of what an evangelist, prophet, and priest would be. He would be the first among men, one filled with awe, love, and servitude for the Bridegroom of nations. He would be one who groaned for the conversion of the tribes of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and would announce the coming of ‘The Way’ for Israel and for the nations. Through John the Baptizer’s life message from the desert floors to the roads of civilization, he would trumpet the invitation for all nations to come and be transformed by the King.

Can you see Jesus and John in Israel together? Priest and King alive in the East together, exemplifying these heavenly identities of holiness?  Known to God and Father, the evangelist announced the coming of the One who would baptize with fire.

Can you imagine Elizabeth’s and Mary’s daily activities and responsibilities as mothers of these two?

Such courage and strength was found within them. They were women of authority because they believed, crossing through the time machine from waiting to becoming.

What does this mean for us? We are in the month of conception. If you haven’t already done so, take time alone with God. He desires to infuse us with His Living Word.  Our “tents” are being stretched and our “boundaries” are being enlarged. He’s got this, we just need to yield, act, and become.

Let us remember that earth’s perspective, the news and all that is going on around us, does not influence God, and is not the lens from which we live. His Book, filled with the Word and blueprints for individuals and nations, is living and breathing with delight and love. The vibrations of this living invitation are available to anyone who has said “Yes,” yielding to His Divinity and to His ways. Let’s say “Yes,” allowing the SEED of His Word to find a resting place within our womb, in sync for the fullness of time. “Be it unto us according to His Word.”

Happy Chanukah and Merry Christmas to all. Happy Conception time!

Briskilla Zananiri is a daughter of God, a lover of the Word and of His nations. She has been married to Emil for 29 years, and they are blessed with three children (Tori-Joy, Jonathan-Blake, and Malakey-Wells). Together they have many more Kingdom children and friends around the world. More at visualeast.org.

Diana’s Story of Redemption

by Andrea Parker   photos by Julie Ganey   re-posted with permission

Diana’s smile is amazing. I met Diana in August. But, it took until quite recently for me to see that smile. Before I share Diana’s story, I want to briefly introduce some background on story-telling…

In the past few years here at Tenwek (hospital in Kenya) , I have learned the difficulty in sharing someone’s story, especially with attention to the different contexts from which we come. But, we pray that the words and pictures convey the “beauty from ashes” that is this story.

Injuries are a huge part of what we see as doctors at Tenwek. In addition to accidental injuries, many injuries are intentionally-inflicted, perhaps due to land disputes or livestock ownership issues or in situations of domestic violence.

Diana was admitted in August with severe head injuries, deep cuts through the skin and bone such that the brain was visible, as well as multiple other deep cuts and injuries to her back and arms and amputation of two of her fingers. These were violent injuries, clearly meant to do serious damage or cause death. Diana was brought in several hours after her injuries, and immediately taken to the operating room, where…

her wounds were washed out and repaired. Her physical wounds, that is…

Over the next several days, we began to see that as severe as Diana’s physical wounds were, equal in severity were the non-physical wounds. And those wounds cannot be sewn together and repaired in a few hours of time in an operating room. Diana struggled to eat. She was tearful. She would not make eye contact. She rarely spoke and relied on her sister to answer questions; I did not even realize she spoke English.

We began to hear parts of Diana’s story – she had been injured by a man, not her husband as she is not married. It was not the first time; she had old scars. She was scared. Over several days to weeks, we prayed for her on our team rounds, and we spent time with her later in the afternoons. We felt a deep desire for her to know her worth, both to us and to a God who loves her with an incomprehensibly immense love. We wanted her to know that she was deeply cherished. Our chaplains and a social worker came and met with her, and over the course of those few weeks…

she came to know the radical love of Jesus who cares so profoundly about each of us.

As we began to make plans for her discharge from the hospital, we had questions:

  • Was it safe for her to return home?
  • Did she have a community to support her?
  • How could she better understand who Jesus is and how God can work in her life?

Throughout our few years here, Bob and I have seen numerous examples where the ideal person is available at a time when their particular, unique skill or expertise is needed. For instance, a patient with a complex vascular problem is here the one week of the year that we have a vascular surgeon available. In these times, we have become deeply grateful for and found a new appreciation in the way that God uses the Body of Christ – our various gifts, desires, enjoyments, strengths – for His glory. We have become keenly aware of our own small part in this picture. While most often I’ve seen this happen through medical providers, in this situation…

God used Tabitha Ministry and some other missionary and Kenyan friends.

Tabitha Ministry  is a ministry to Kenyan women in the area surrounding Tenwek Hospital. It started out of a home Bible study but has grown to a network of thousands of women learning the Bible and caring for one another. It was started by a missionary friend, Linda, and a Kenyan woman, Peris Rotich. As Diana was in the hospital, I reached out to Linda, Peris, and another friend who works with Tabitha Ministry, Julie, in hopes that they could meet with Diana so that perhaps she could be connected to a group of women from Tabitha, near her home, who might be able to provide continued support and encouragement.

God used the Tabitha leaders in beautiful and wonderful ways to minister to Diana, and I began to hear more of Diana’s story through them.

Diana is one of eight daughters and no sons. Had she been born into a family with sons, likely her life would have been much different. If she had a brother, as her parents aged, they would have been cared for by a son and daughter-in-law. Instead, Diana was chosen to stay with her parents and care for them, both as a financial provider and for their daily needs.

Diana is a teacher, and her home is on the same plot of land as her mother and father’s. Diana is not allowed to marry. As an unmarried woman, Diana is vulnerable, lacking the protection a husband would afford her. And there are men in her community who take advantage of her vulnerability. She has three children with two fathers. A particular man in her community, the father of two of her children, periodically comes to her house to spend the night, and at least once prior to this story, he has abused her violently enough to leave scars.

One morning, as he prepared to leave the house, he suddenly turned violent, taking a machete and attacking her, even as she tried to run away. Leaving the house, she screamed for the neighbors before she collapsed, and he escaped. The neighbors came, and when they saw the severity of her injuries, they assumed she was dead; she scared them when she asked them to take her to the hospital.

The first hospital they took her to saw how bad her injuries were and wouldn’t even allow her into the hospital, sending her instead on to Tenwek with a blanket to soak up some of the blood. Tenwek is an hour and a half of very bumpy dirt roads from her house. Diana said she didn’t even feel the trauma of the ride as she was unconscious.

As the women from Tabitha Ministry talked to Diana, they were able to share personal experiences and situations and encourage her in her newfound faith.

They spent hours over several days with her acknowledging her trauma, allowing her to talk and process the situation, and hearing her fears. They prayed, shared scripture, and sang songs with Diana before her discharge. And they arranged for Diana to have women visit her at her home through a Tabitha group nearer to her. I am so very grateful for the time these women spent pouring into the life of another woman.

A little over a week ago, Julie, Peris, and I had the opportunity, along with several women from Tabitha Ministry who joined us at various points on the journey, to visit Diana in her home. We met her parents and children and had a beautiful time of hearing Diana’s story.

She related that in that moment as she was escaping, as she was fearing for her life, she just cried out to God, that he would forgive her and forgive this man. Hearing her say that reminded me of Christ on the cross. She said she had heard about Jesus all her life but had never known him until she was in the hospital.

Diana and her family told us of the many ways in which God intervened on her behalf that day and the way He has changed her life since.

Her family was supposed to be away, yet their plans had changed, and they were around. In this very remote area, a car just happened to be passing by the neighbor’s house, and the driver offered to drive her to the hospital for no charge. When they arrived at Tenwek, Diana’s mother was told that she would need a blood transfusion and also given an estimate of the cost of the hospitalization and surgery. She was overwhelmed wondering where she would find family to donate blood and money to pay.

She happened to run into another relative who was at the hospital for an unrelated reason, and that relative organized family members to donate blood and contribute to the cost of her care. She talked about God’s work in her life including the way that He has miraculously taken away her fear, her nightmares, her anger and her bitterness and her shame. We shared chai (Kenyan tea) and songs and prayer and hugs.Diana is in the middle with the blue head scarf. Her 4 year old is in the front center. The rest are Tabitha Ministry* bible study leaders, friends, neighbors and relatives.

I will not pretend to understand why these things happen or why sometimes evil seems to prevail in this world or give easy answers.

Nor do I want to naively overlook or simplify the trauma that she or others have experienced. But, I do know that God’s work in Diana’s life is obvious. Her smile is not one of naivete or ignorance or denial. Her smile is that of someone who knows the love of God in a real way. 

 

 

Women of the Word  helps to support the work of  *Tabitha Ministry through offerings and prayer. We heard about this ministry through personal connection with Dr. Mike and Julie Ganey.  Mike is a pediatric surgeon and Julie is a nurse. They have 2 children, Eden and Caleb and have ministered in Kenya for several years at Tenwek Hospital and in the community.

It Will Be Worth It All

by Bethany Wuerffel

The silent tears fall on my cheeks. My heart is broken. My throat choked with emotion.

Bethany Wuerffel

Her absence leaves a void so wide and so deep, no part of life is unaffected, all the pain is connected.

Cancer took her too soon. Her work can’t be done. But she’s passed on the baton. There are souls to be won.

So we press on in the battle, our sight often blurred. Life is hard, there are so many fears! God is still good though, and for Him we’ll keep on. Doing His work, singing His song.

Sharing His smile, arrayed in His love, touching each life for His kingdom above. Serving, praying, her legacy portraying. Our day’s not yet done, nor our work for the Son.

We each have a calling, our life’s work to do.
But take heart! One day that work will be completed, the enemy finally defeated!!

And when that day comes the reunion will be glorious. Together we’ll worship our Savior victorious. Our crowns cast before Him, our hearts glad and free, His love washing over us as deep as the sea.

I can’t wait to see you again in heaven Mom. ❤️

Bethany’s mom, Sonja, with her husband Mark and their grandchildren.

Read Bethany’s blog “Roadblocks” here. She grew up with her 7 siblings as missionary kids in Papua New Guinea where her parents served with Wycliffe Bible Translators. As a young adult she pursued missions herself, moving to the Philippines for two years to study midwifery and serve the people there through childbirth with the love of Jesus. While she now calls North Carolina home, she continues to enjoy international travel and ministry work. Through Women of the Word, Israel has become one of her passions and she has traveled there several times for both tours and ministry.

Who Will Have Pity on you O Jerusalem? – Praying for the Peace of Jerusalem

by Betsy Roy

The Bible asks a poignant question in Jeremiah 15:5. “Who will have pity on you, O Jerusalem, or who will grieve for you? Who will turn aside to ask about your welfare?”

Jesus grieved and wept over Jerusalem (Luke 13:34,35 and Luke 19:41,42) because he knew Jerusalem would be trampled down in 70 AD and an hour is yet to come when all nations will come against Jerusalem as prophesied by the prophet Zechariah. Yet the final outcome will be victorious for the Kingdom of God as King Jesus will rule from the Holy City and all who have survived of all the nations that came against Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King and celebrate the Feast of Booths (Zechariah 14:16).

In the meantime, much has happened in Jerusalem and Israel over the last 150 years or so as we witness the return of the Jewish people to their ancestral home, the restoration of the Hebrew language, the blooming of the land, and most astounding the increase of Jewish people who believe that Jesus is the Messiah! Hallelujah!

Jerusalem is the center of the nations (Ezekiel 5:5). Not Tehran, nor Mecca, nor Cairo, nor Washington DC, nor Moscow, nor Bejing, nor Tokyo, nor London, nor Paris, nor Rome, nor any other city. It’s Jerusalem! In this city our Lord Jesus was crucified, died, resurrected and ascended back to heaven. To this city our Lord Jesus will return as his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives. There is no city like it! It is unique!

Man has tried and continues to try to bring “peace” to this city, but it is beyond us! The Bible instructs us to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem” (Psalm 122:6), but what does that really mean and how do we effectively do it? The meaning of Jerusalem is “teaching of peace”. Jeru means Torah or teaching. Salem means peace. The word “pray” in this Psalm means to “ask” so the phrase can be written to say “Ask about the prince of peace and his teaching of peace.” Therefore, when we pray for the “peace of Jerusalem” we aren’t praying for the absence of war per se although we can pray that the enemy of our souls not be allowed to bring war out of God’s timing. We should be praying that people (souls) that do not know Jesus as Messiah begin to ask about him and his teachings. We can also pray that those of us who do know him have a deeper understanding of his teachings and walk as disciples in this world. May we be salt and light and draw others to him.

We can pray that veil in front of the eyes of the Jewish people becomes thinner and thinner and that they will look up and recognize Yeshua (Jesus) as Messiah and that a spirit of supplication and repentance comes upon them so they will cry “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Luke 13:35). Only when this happens on a national level will the Lord return. Let us cry out for a great harvest of souls in Israel and throughout the Middle East of both Jew and Gentile.

In Hebrew the word “peace” means completenes, wholeness, a state when things are as God intends them to be so this is what we are asking of God. We are not asking Him to withhold the final time of war because as it is written, so it will surely come. Jesus prayed that we would understand the way of peace. May we understand it and pray for others to understand it also. That is “praying for the peace of Jersualem”.  Will you join me in it?

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 Fall Feasts

by Rose-Marie Slosek

The fall is a time of several major feasts in the Jewish calendar.  On September 9-11 of this year (2018), the Jewish Civil New Year, Rosh Hashanah (also known as the Feast of Trumpets), will be celebrated. It is the first of the “High Holy Days” and celebrates God making the world!  A shofar is blown during the service.  Giving to the needy so that one may be included in the Book of Life and have a happy year is a tradition practiced by Jewish people all over the world. 

Sweet food is eaten, such a challah bread with raisins and apples dipped in honey. The head of the fish is often served so you remember to be “the head and not the tail”– a leader instead of a follower! If you want to wish someone a happy new year you say, “L’shanah Tovah”  which means “a good year” in Hebrew.

Yom Kippur is the holiest day in the Jewish calendar. It is scheduled ten days after Rosh Hashanah. On that day, people repent of their sins, and ask God to forgive their sins. It is called the ‘Sabbath of Sabbaths.” People fast and do not work that day so they can repent.  It is called the “Day of Atonement.” September 19th is the date this year. 

On September 24th and 25th is the Feast of Tabernacles (Booths) or Sukkot. It is a time to remember God’s provision in the wilderness but also to look forward to the time when the Messiah comes and all the nations come to Jerusalem to worship God. People construct and live in hut like structures on their porches, balconies, back yards, to remember the fragility of life and to be thankful for their homes and God’s provision.  It is a time of great celebration! People gather in the sukkot structure and eat and rejoice together. This feast also has great prophetic meaning for us as believers.. Zechariah tells us that a day will come when we will go up to Jerusalem year after year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Booths (Zechariah 14: 16).

At the end of Sukkot, the Jews celebrate Shemini Atzeret where people spend an additional day with God! While Sukkot is for everyone to celebrate, only the Jews celebrate Shemini Atzeret as they celebrate the special relationship they have with God. This is celebrated on October 1st this year.  

On October 2nd is Simchat Torah.  It celebrates the conclusion of the public Torah readings for the year. People often dance with the Torah scrolls around the table where the Torah is read! In Israel Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah are condensed into one day.

As Christians, we can appreciate these holy day celebrations as they often are very symbolic in nature and point to Jesus in some way.  Jesus did celebrate the Feasts and learning about them can be very enriching. 

These holidays have three parts to them:  Israel was to observe the holiday each year to remember and celebrate something God did in the past, while looking forward to some prophetic purpose hidden within each festival that is still to come!

There is often confusion as to whether Christians should or even must celebrate these festivals. Paul addresses this in the book of Colossians : Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.”  (Colossians 2:16,17)

Judaizers, even modern day ones, say that we must celebrate these festivals but we have liberty to honor them or to no partake in them. They have beautiful imagery, but all things find their completeness in Christ so we are not compelled to as far as religious duty.  We can easily enjoy the symbolism and history of the festivals and contemplate their prophetic meaning. Thank God that we have a once and for all atonement of our sins in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. All things have been provided by God in Christ and this is nothing that we can earn of ourselves.  However, we can take this good advice from Paul as he writes to the Corinthians : Christ our passover is sacrificed for us, therefore let us keep the feast, not with the old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. “  (I Corinthians 5:7-8).

Rose-Marie Slosek is a Board Member of Women of the Word. She also blogs at Pen of the Wayfarer and is a spiritual director. She loves to travel to other nations, especially Ireland and Israel , and is an avid photographer of nature. Rose-Marie also rescues dogs and gives them a loving home.

Women of the Word is 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. Consider joining us on the next Amazing Israel Adventure March 31 – April 11, 2019.  Trips to Israel are open to men and women. 

Roadblocks

by Bethany Wuerffel

2018 seems to be the year for road construction in our county and more specifically, in our exact location. Every single road we use in our immediate vicinity, except our own quiet little street, has been repaved in the past few months. The culmination of this roadwork confronted us three days ago when they closed two different places of a main highway our street connects with. Our street lies right between these two closures, meaning most destinations these days involve a detour.

While the outcome of this work is good as it was desperately needed and has created wider, smoother roads, the process has been exhausting. No matter which direction we go we’ve been confronted with ‘One Lane Road Ahead’, ‘Prepare To Stop’, ‘Detour Ahead’, and the least favorite, ‘Road Closed’ signs. Delays, unexpected stops, and new travel directions have all become the new ‘normal’ in our lives.

Lately my heart has been acting like the highway in front of my house. Every normal thought, processing, and action from my past now dead ends into a large, bright-orange ‘Road Closed’ sign. Except in the case of my heart, the signs read ‘Death’, ‘Loss’, and ‘Tears’…

…I go to change the shower curtain in my parents bathroom and am struck with a tears delay as I remember so many sweet moments of chatting with mom in that bathroom as she curled her hair and prepared for the day, and then at the end of her life when she could no longer do those things and I did them for her. I long for those times again.

…I make deliveries for my brothers egg business (a job my mom used to do for him) and every customer sweetly checks in on our family and we detour from our typical conversation to spend time reminiscing together, often with tears, of the many special memories of Mom.

…Our kitchen table is covered with sympathy cards, clean dishes that need to be returned to friends who incredibly blessed us with meals, and letters going out to supporters with memorial service information and an update on life without Mom. Every time I walk in the door I’m confronted with that table and the large orange ‘Road Closed Ahead’ sign that reads ‘Mom’s Gone’.

Unfortunately, sometimes the road closed signs have no warning. You just come flying around the corner and find yourself face to face with orange cones and a closed road.

A few days ago we picked up mom’s ashes from the funeral home. As soon as I picked up the bag holding the box and felt the unexpected weight of it, a whole flood of thoughts and emotions swept over me. Another detour to life as I walked down memory lane once again, remembering mom in her last days, her sweet presence and I how I loved to just sit in her room with her for hours at a time. There wouldn’t be much talking as her voice was quite weak, but we would hold hands and listen to music or sermons together and it was enough. Then I remember her the last time I saw her- at the funeral home for the viewing and how natural and unnatural she looked at the same time.

It’s this thought that causes my detour to take me past a gorgeous scenic overlook as I remember Mom isn’t really in the box I’m holding. Her empty shell is. The mom I know and love is rejoicing in heaven, having the time of her life. She’s free of stress, anxiety, and pain. She’s worshiping her beautiful Maker with every tear wiped from her face. Instead of holding my hand she’s holding His and basking in His presence. I stop for a moment and soak up that gorgeous view. I am so happy for her, but for me right now, it’s just a glimpse of that beauty and the ache of an empty hand. The latter overcomes the former as the large orange construction signs obscure my vision.

I could ignore the signs and plow through the closed section of the road. Two of my brothers (who will remain anonymous), actually did this recently. Unfortunately for both of them this didn’t work out so well. One of them had to call in reinforcements to get pulled out of a ditch, and the other tore off his bumper. Thankfully neither of them were hurt and no serious damage was done but it’s a poignant reminder to me that those signs are there for a reason both on the road and in my heart right now.

The Lord is good and sovereign and has a plan and purpose through this. I trust that He has put these road blocks and detours in my life right now because He is upgrading my heart and mind. He is blowing His healing power into the hurting places and working through the pain in ways He couldn’t have otherwise. And He is creating good because that is what He promises He will do in every situation. If I continue to submit to His roadblocks and detours, and seek Him daily, I trust the outcome will be worth all the delays and frustration along the way.

May I patiently submit to His plans and trust He is working even through the unexpected sorrow, the detours of pain, and the road blocks of loss. He is good.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Bethany Wuerffel grew up with her 7 siblings as missionary kids in Papua New Guinea where her parents served with Wycliffe Bible Translators. As a young adult she pursued missions herself, moving to the Philippines for two years to study midwifery and serve the people there through childbirth with the love of Jesus. While she now calls North Carolina home, she continues to enjoy

Bethany at the Dead Sea, Israel

international travel and ministry work. Through Women of the Word, Israel has become one of her passions and she has traveled there several times for both tours and ministry. In 2018 she lost her mom to aggressive brain cancer. This post was written soon after her mom’s death as a form of processing the incredible loss of an amazing mentor, Mom, and dear friend.

How should Christians Relate to Israel: Part 2

by Rose–Marie Slosek

Click here for Part 1: How Should Christians View Israel

Part 2: A hundred years ago, one could not have even seen that Israel would come back on the world stage as a country. If you read books concerning eschatology and end time issues written before 1948, they do not seem to focus directly on Israel because Israel did not even exist as a sovereign country.  

In 1948, Israel was once again a nation! This was a mere 70 years ago! But Israel is now, and will be increasingly, at the center of much world controversy.  Jerusalem is the most contested city on the earth and will be until Jesus comes. It is now essential to realize that God is not finished with Israel. He who has begun a work in her, will finish it, and why is this? It is because of covenant.  Although we can be happy that the embassy of the US has moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem we must also realize that we cannot relate to Israel, nor does God relate to Israel, through political avenues. Because Israel is both a sovereign country and a political state, many Israelis may not remember or pay heed to Israel’s covenant with God, and those that do may be mistaken in its application and meaning at this time in history.

So we need to be able to relate to Israel according to biblical wisdom and not secular or political protocol. So let us turn and search the scriptures. God has spoken to Israel by means of The Law and the Prophets. When Israel was straying from God, God sent prophets to call Israel back to Himself. When they did not return, then there were consequences. God allows free choice, but He was sovereign over the nation, and sovereign He still is and will forever be.

Blessed be He! To our way of thinking, God’s ways can be difficult to understand or appear harsh. But God is God and acts from wisdom and covenant love.  We must stand with Him and trust Him.

There is much humanism that surrounds both Jewish thinking about its own nation, and also our thinking as Christians about who and what Israel is and what God will do to accomplish His purposes with His nation on the earth. If we find ourselves on the wrong side of God, we will find ourselves of no use to Him, or worse, to be at odds with Him and He will have to sweep us aside. At some times, in some crucial moments in history, there is little place for error.

Many stand with Israel no matter what she does. Yes, it is our place as Christians to stand with her, but not without discernment and clarity as to where God stands with her.  To the degree that she is astray, we cannot fully support her. So it behooves us to know the covenant. God has a history of using other nations to come against Israel to bring His people back to Himself.  We cannot forget this. He controls the discipline, but He allows it, even causes it, make no mistake. (Ezekiel 38:14-18, Ezekiel 8:7-18).

Just as the bible says, “God disciplines everyone He loves and chastises everyone He receives.” (Hebrew 12:6) So it is individually, so it will be corporately with Israel. He cannot now accept them because in many ways they are not right before Him and because they have not yet “Looked upon He whom they have pierced and… mourned… and wept bitterly” (Zechariah 12:10). Make no doubt about it, national repentance is in Israel’s future. But gloriously, when they have, He will raise them up. God’s heart is restoration and salvation and grace, but all things must be in order. So let us, even if we do not not understand everything, begin to pray with a spirit of brokenness and supplication, that God will have His perfect way with us, as the Branch, grafted in, and with the original branch, the nation of Israel. We are in this together. May God give us great wisdom and compassion. 

Rose-Marie Slosek is a Board Member of Women of the Word. She also blogs at Pen of the Wayfarer and is a spiritual director. She loves to travel to other nations, especially Ireland and Israel , and is an avid photographer of nature. Rose-Marie also rescues dogs and gives them a loving home.

Women of the Word is 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. Consider joining us on the next Amazing Israel Adventure March 31 – April 11, 2019.  Trips to Israel are open to men and women. 

“