Outside the Camp

June 28, 2024 Devotional by Rose-Marie Slosek

“Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach.” (Hebrews 13:13)

Jesus suffered outside the camp for our sins. It is only by revelation that people were given to understand who He was.  It is still only by revelation that we understand who He is. The path of being where Jesus is can take us or force us off the beaten track of religion as it is commonly practiced. We may not be able to follow that which is trending, that which is socially acceptable, that which is seen as “cutting edge” or even safe. 

Our Lord asks us to follow Him outside the camp of popularity and safety because that is where we will see Him in sharp contrast to a god of our own making. It is also where we will find the lost ones that He wants us to help gather to Himself.

Even as He is dying, He gathers up one of the men who is dying next to Him. His heart is always for the lost sheep who have wandered into the wilderness. The call that the Galilean makes upon us will not lead to a life of comfort and ease. We will know the same kind of rejection, disdain, and suspicion that He did: “a winebibber, a glutton, and a friend of sinners” (Luke 11:19).

We may not be able to tolerate the temperature of the current status quo. We may have to brave the rip-tides in order to get into the depths of the sea. Our hearts may ever be restless in this world because we are always hearing the call to the unreached, the forgotten, the cast-offs. The world may think that those we minister to are not worth saving. Go to them anyway. 

There is much to be said for being rejected by the kind of religious system that would reject Jesus. Being included is not always what you want because that inclusion may come with a price you should not be willing to pay.

It is a privilege to stand with Jesus outside the camp. It is a blessing to find others out there who are willing to stand with Him. These are your band of brothers.  They are a meek but sturdy lot. They know how to bear reproach. They will know how to stand in that Day against the Evil Man. They may know the ultimate sacrifice of their life as their Lord did.  Standing outside the camp is a privilege. Don’t be afraid to embrace it in whatever way it comes to you. 

Maranatha.

Rose-Marie Slosek loves to connect people and build healthy community in small groups. She travels widely and assists several mission teams. Rose-Marie also serves Women of the Word on their Board of Directors. She can be reached at email 
rmslosek@comcast.net

Teach the Truth

June 24, 2024 Devotional by Rose-Marie Slosek

“Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things?” (John 3:10)

Jesus “pulls no punches” with Nicodemus, and He will pull no punches with us. Nicodemus, the seeking Pharisee, comes to Jesus under cover of night to ask Him some questions, but instead, Nicodemus gets questioned.  Perhaps it would have been too embarrassing and socially unacceptable for Nicodemus, a Pharisee, to ask Jesus a question in public, as that may have looked like Nicodemus was acknowledging Jesus’ authority to answer.  

Nicodemus, however, ends up facing the heart-searching questions that Jesus poses to him. Jesus speaks to him of how souls are birthed into spiritual life, and Nicodemus does not seem to understand the process at all. He thinks that Jesus is talking in human terms about the human birthing process. 

Envision, if you will, Jesus looking at him. Jesus says, “Are you a teacher in Israel and you don’t know these [basic things about spiritual birth]?”  James says in his epistle, “My brothers, be not many teachers, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation” (James 3:1). Jesus is rebuking Nicodemus and letting him know that he is strongly lacking in his spiritual knowledge. How can he then be a good teacher?

There are many things that we think we know about salvation and the kingdom of God, but we must come to Jesus and allow Him to ask us questions, hard questions, to see if we truly understand the way of salvation. Many of our beliefs may be amalgamations, half truths, mental truths, or downright errors.  We shouldn’t be surprised when Jesus comes, either gently or not so gently, and questions us thoroughly. 

 It’s important that what we believe and teach be as true and pure as possible.  Better to be corrected now while we have time to make a correction then to face God later and find out that we were not teaching the truth! When James says that teachers teaching falsehoods will receive a greater condemnation, we need to take that seriously. Condemnation is a pretty strong word—not one that you want applied to you. Even if you aren’t a teacher, it is important to live out of correct beliefs because all beliefs bear fruit, good or bad, in our thoughts and actions.

Furthermore, we can be doctrinally correct, but our hearts can be far from God in the application of the truth. We “see in part” Paul says. No church or denomination has the entire truth or is completely free from error. And no one individual understands everything about God and His Word correctly. 

Let God ask you some questions so that He might refine or downright correct what you believe.  Let there be no false teaching falling from our lips.

Maranatha.

Rose-Marie Slosek loves to connect people and build healthy community in small groups. She travels widely and assists several mission teams. Rose-Marie also serves Women of the Word on their Board of Directors. She can be reached at email 
rmslosek@comcast.net

Women of the Word is a non-profit ministry conducting Christian women’s conferencetrips to Israel and online Christian Bible studies.  “WOW” also offers bible reading plans and instruction for how to understand the Bible for beginners and those maturing in their faith. WOW serves women of all denominations, cultures and ages and is focused on teaching biblical principles and their application in daily life.

The Depths of God’s Love

June 19, 2024 Devotional by Rose-Marie Slosek

May [you] be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth, and  length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge. (Ephesians 3:18-19a)

Whatever is happening in the world, we are no longer in shallow waters. Now we will learn about what it feels like to be in the swirling waters of the world as it writhes in its agonies, and also to learn what it is to know the “deep, deep love of Jesus! Vast, unmeasured, boundless, free, rolling as a mighty ocean in its fullness over me.” (1)

The love God has poured out to ransom us cannot be measured. It stands forever. We who are “in Christ” are found to be in an ocean of His love. God’s love toward us is constant, not able to be overturned or swept away. His love sustains us, no matter what befalls or assails us in the world. We are going to have to know this deep in our bones. A characteristic of the end of the age is that “the love of many will grow cold” (Matt. 24:12). Human love may lose its heat, it may be quenched, but divine love cannot be.

If we remain abiding in the love of God, we will have more than enough love, and it will inflame our hearts and burn brightly so that others can be warmed by it. The many waters of adversity, betrayal, loss, or pain need not result in our love being quenched if the source of our love is God. Human love will fail, but  the agape love of God is resilient and cannot be exhausted.

You may ask, “How do I gain this kind of love?” It is, dear friend, a gift. God’s love surrounds us like a shield (Ps. 5:12), but it also indwells, by His Spirit, all who belong to Him. 

God Himself is love. It is important that we become comfortable relaxing in the ocean of His love as the world darkens. Just as the waters of adversity may sweep over us, so can the depths of God’s love. This is not a nice theory or a pleasant fairy tale but the reality we can actually live from and put our weight into. Just as water buoys us up, so the love of God will uphold us in life’s darkest hours. 

Give yourself to the love of God, fall back into it in a trust fall, so that you may actually feel what it means to be held by it. The sweeping torrents of life can take us out of our own control, but they can never sweep us away from the torrential floodwaters of God’s love. 

Maranatha.

(1) S. Trevor Francis, “O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus!”, 1875

Rose-Marie Slosek loves to connect people and build healthy community in small groups. She travels widely and assists several mission teams. Rose-Marie also serves Women of the Word on their Board of Directors. She can be reached at email 
rmslosek@comcast.net

Women of the Word is a non-profit ministry conducting Christian women’s conferencetrips to Israel and online Christian Bible studies.  “WOW” also offers bible reading plans and instruction for how to understand the Bible for beginners and those maturing in their faith. WOW serves women of all denominations, cultures and ages and is focused on teaching biblical principles and their application in daily life.

God Appointments

June 11, 2024

Since early May I have been pondering God’s calendar especially as we approach the Feast of Weeks (Shavuot in Hebrew), otherwise known as Pentecost which occurs on the Biblical Calendar beginning at sundown on June 11 of this year (2024). I believe that the Lord is beginning to shift and revive HIS work in this season of Shavuot/Pentecost.

Calendars are an integral part of our lives. They help us know what the date is and what day of the week it is. In American culture we mark each day of the week anticipating the weekend or time off from work. We count the weeks and days until we can take a vacation, or when a baby will be born, or we get married, or a holiday or whatever day we are anticipating.

Many of us also have special appointments and we put them in our calendar. The calendar helps us establish a rhythm in our life and helps us prepare and be on time for special times like weddings, anniversaries, graduations, birthdays and other celebrations important to us. If a certain day or time is important to us we put it in our calendar. With the advent of calendars on our phones we can also set alerts to be sure we don’t miss the appointment. Our calendars are mostly set around us and perhaps events important to work, family members or friends. If we are part of the Christian world our calendar may also include church events, holidays and special meeting times such as concerts and other gatherings.

How often do we consider that God has a calendar? He has set special appointed times when He calls His people to gather, worship, not do regular work, bring offerings and remember that He has brought out of the bondage of sin into freedom. There is a biblical cycle of appointed times. Jesus kept them as did the disciples and early Church.

However, in early Church history the Church fell away from keeping these appointments and began to set up a different calendar. For example, the push to create a separate non-Biblical celebration of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection began as early as the second century. In 325 CE it became official at the First Council of Nicaea to establish the date of “Easter” as the first Sunday after the full moon following the March equinox. Emperor Constantine wrote … it appeared an unworthy thing that in the celebration of this most holy feast we should follow the practice of the Jews, who have impiously defiled their hands with enormous sin, and are, therefore, deservedly afflicted with blindness of soul. …Let us then have nothing in common with the detestable Jewish crowd; for we have received from our Savior a different way.” (Eusebius’ Life of Constantine, Book 3 chapter 18)

Have we received a different way from our Savior? I think not. We have received a different way from men who set themselves up above what God says in His Word. Jesus suffered, died, was buried and rose again during the week long celebration of the Feasts of Passover, Unleavened Bread and Firstfruits. God set the date in His Word. It begins at twilight on the first month of the biblical year on the 14th day – it is the LORD’s Passover (see Leviticus 23:4-8). God said that this time of Passover is a memorial and to be kept as a feast by an everlasting ordinance (see Exodus 12:14). Jesus is our Passover Lamb (see 1 Corinthians 5:7).

The next feast on the Biblical calendar is Shavuot (Hebrew for the Feast of Weeks) which we identify as Pentecost because it occurs 50 (penta) days after “Easter” or after the time of Passover/Unleavened Bread/Firstfruits? Well on the Christian calendar it’s obviously celebrated 50 days after Easter but on the Biblical calendar the appointed time is 50 days after the Feast of Firstfruits (part of the week now collectively known as Passover). Some Scriptures about Shavuot are Leviticus 23:15-16, Numbers 28:26-27, Deuteronomy 16:9-12.

My purpose here is not to bring condemnation upon us if we celebrate the dates set on the Christian calendar, but to bring awareness that there is a DIFFERENT Calendar – God’s Calendar – God’s appointed times. Perhaps we should consider these appointments that God has set and begin to incorporate them into the rhythm of our lives? Obviously we are not an agrarian society as Israel was in ancient times, nor do we continue on with animal sacrifice as Jesus is THE perfect sacrifice that was slain. God is also always present with us and we can worship Him at anytime and anyplace. But, just as we have daily relationships with our spouses, family and friends we also have special “appointed” times of special celebrations wit them. So it is with God! He invites us into these times. It’s not a “have to do it”, but rather a “get to do it”. Yes, it will take some effort to re-adjust our calendars but it’s worth it!

I am expectant of this season of Shavuot/Pentecost. I believe God is shifting us and as it says in Habakkuk 3:2, reviving His work as in days of old. We surely need it! We need a fresh Baptism of the Holy Spirit that empowers us be strong witnesses of the saving, healing, transforming and delivering power of the Lord Jesus Christ! I believe that as we lay our hands on people in humility and faith praying for their healing and deliverance we will begin to see His glorious deeds manifest in this season. People are sick – in mind, body, emotions and spirit. It’s time for the people of God to bring them the ONE who heals – Christ Jesus! Let’s also expect many to come into the Kingdom just as on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2 when 3,000 souls came into the Kingdom and were baptized after Peter’s sermon empowered by the Holy Spirit!

I leave you with these scriptures which have been coming again and again since early May. Make them a prayer with me!

“O LORD, I have heard Your speech and was afraid; O LORD, revive Your work in the midst of the years! In the midst of the years make it known; in wrath remember mercy. God came (and is coming) from Teman, the Holy One from Mount Paran. His glory covered (and is covering) the heavens, and the earth was full (and is full) of His praise. His brightness was (and is) like the light; and He had (and has) rays flashing from His hand, and there His power was (and is) hidden.” Habakkuk 3:2-4

May this Shavuot/Pentecost be the beginning of a shift for you and those you love. Come Lord Jesus Come – Maranatha!!

For more on the Feast of Pentecost/Shavuot read this blog>>

The image used above is by permission of Deana Harvey, the artist. Deana can be reached on Facebook at Tree of Life Art Gallery>>

Betsy Roy is the Director of Women of the Word, a non-profit ministry conducting Christian women’s conference, trips to Israel and online Christian Bible studies. 

Women of the Word also offers bible reading plans and instruction for how to understand the Bible for beginners and those maturing in their faith. WOW serves women of all denominations, cultures and ages and is focused on teaching biblical principles and their application in daily life.

From My Heart, in Jerusalem

by Jill Czelusta

“Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? …And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’  Matthew 25:27, 40

Shalom from Jerusalem! There are many dates in history that mark significant events in the life of a nation.  December 7, 1949, “A Day that will live in infamy,” as described by U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, marks a tragic event in American History. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  9/11 needs less explanation for Americans since it is a much more recent event.

The Holocaust is an event that is needing more and more explanation as the World War II generation is reaching its end. There are fewer and fewer survivors of the various death camps who can tell their stories, keeping the cries of “Never Again” alive. It is becoming easier for the world to ignore or deny those horrific events that took place throughout Europe.

Unfortunately, in the life of the nation of Israel, October 7 will be a date that is forever etched in the timeline of the history of modern Israel. As I spend time in Jerusalem, the atmosphere is thick with grief and uncertainty. There is barely a citizen who has not attended one or more funerals for the victims of the massacre or for soldiers from the war in Gaza. Just about everyone has a son or daughter, or a sibling, or a parent, or a grandchild that has been called up for service in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Over all the years that I have volunteered in Israel, I have gotten used to seeing “off duty” IDF soldiers on busses, in stores, and generally everywhere, a few carrying their weapons. But it is a bit different to see those same soldiers carrying their weapons with them everywhere, even when out of uniform.

I have only been back in Israel since Mid-April, but I have met many people who are still reeling from their experiences. Some want to talk about it; others just stare silently at the floor. It will be that way for a long time. It is my prayer that my volunteering at such a time as this will bring encouragement to the people I meet every day.

Already I have had some amazing encounters with individuals, both officially while serving with Bridges for Peace, and unofficially as I have had conversations with my new neighbors or people I meet on the street. I would like to share a couple of examples.

I serve as the Food Bank Floor Supervisor at the Bridges for Peace Jerusalem Assistance Center (JAC). We have people come in daily who need our services. While most of the time they stay behind the glass that separates the warehouse from the front office, occasionally someone comes onto the Food Bank floor. We are always encouraged to greet people and interact with them, telling them where we are from.  It is fun to see their eyes widen as they learn that the volunteers working around the big, white packing tables are from America, Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, Japan, Russia, and South Africa. Others serving with BFP are from Ireland, Namibia, Wales, England, and Sweden. While I have had that same conversation through the years, this year is different. Almost always they add, “You are here during the war?” and their “Thank you” is even more enthusiastic.

Besides the weekly packing of dry goods, meat, dairy, fresh fruit and veggies, we also go out on special projects. One such project is shown in the “Beacon of Hope” video (see below).  Because of the war, both south near Gaza and north near Lebanon, Israel currently has about 100,000 displaced people. Their lives are in limbo, not knowing when or if they will return to their homes and their lives.  

While the video does a wonderful job explaining our project, I will add that we had many of those displaced people come into the formerly empty room to see Christians from around the world busily working, sometimes on their hands and knees on the bare concrete floor, building couches, tables, chairs, or cupboards for all the new kitchen supplies, as well as shelves for the children’s games. The amazing transformation of an empty room to a community center allows these displaced people to gather, as a community, to love and support one another. People who gather there will always be reminded that this room was transformed by Christians from around the world who love them!  I was blessed to be a part of that project.

I would like to thank Betsy personally for her encouragement and support as I have served in Israel.  I would also like to thank the ministry of Women of the Word for its financial support. May the Lord continue to bless this ministry as it serves the Lord faithfully.  

Women of the Word is a non-profit organization conducting Christian women’s conference and online Christian Bible studies. We support Israel, hosting tours to Israel, ministry trips, financial giving and prayer. We treasure the friendships we have with people living in the land. Please visit our Eyes on Israel page for more information.

Betsy Roy is the Director of Women of the Word. WOW serves women of all denominations, cultures and ages and is focused on teaching biblical principles and their application in daily life.

What’s in Your Wallet? 

June 4, 2024 Devotional by Rose-Marie Slosek

He went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. (Matthew 19:22)

Jesus understands that what we clutch, what we trust in, binds us. We are meant to be completely free of bondage to anything or anyone. Our trust is in God alone. We—and everything we have— belong to God.

Many of us grew up thinking that our goodness and our “good works” helped us, or even gained us approval with God. We tend to gravitate toward that which we are naturally talented in, and that is not all bad. God has put gifts and talents in us that we are meant to use, but they do not gain us approval with God, nor should they be something we trust in. 

The rich young ruler is trying so hard, but he has his aces still hidden in his pocket. He knows, or thinks he knows, that religion is about following the rules, and giving God His due. He doesn’t realize that Jesus approaches him in love to get him to let go of it all! 

Here is a game that this earnest young man is not signing up to play. It is a game of winner take all. It is a call to total relinquishment. It appears that the young man is not exactly asking Jesus an honest question, as he most likely thinks he is getting the salvation game right and is possibly fishing for a compliment. 

Jesus is not rebuking him; He is backing him into a corner. He needs to get at what the young man is holding back, not what he is eager to give. So it is with us. The young man has money, and Jesus asks him to not just give a tithe, or a double tithe, but to give all of his possessions away and come and follow Jesus. 

Dear friend, allow God to rifle through your things and ask you for anything and everything. You can bet that He will find just the thing that you are a bit too dearly attached to—the thing that you have hidden in the back of the closet, the thing you are unwilling to share, whether that be a physical object, money, time, or a connection with your own life that, if not surrendered, will cause you some trouble and pain. Dear God, please just don’t ask for the chocolate!

God is not looking to take things from you. He needs nothing, but He does have the right to put his finger on that which must be surrendered in order for you to be free. So let Him ask you, “What’s in your wallet?” Then give it all to Him.

Maranatha.

Rose-Marie Slosek came to know the Lord in the early nineteen seventies and has a passion for organic church and the maturing of the Body of Christ. She loves to connect people and build healthy community in small groups. She travels widely and assists several mission teams. Rose-Marie also serves Women of the Word on their Board of Directors. She can be reached at email 
rmslosek@comcast.net