While listening to a recent message by Jack Hayford on the “Spirit Formed” broadcast, I heard him describe Easter in this way…
The whole message of Easter is not that there was an event. The whole message of Easter is that Easter released a power that guarantees to everyone who will come to Him that there is a force that will reverse any situation that looks like its been a set up for a put down…to reverse everything in our lives that looks dead. But there is no promise of a schedule, of a schedule that will suit us.
Easter released a power into our lives that is available to us every day. Jesus is ever-present with us and He’s given us the Holy Spirit to forever abide in us. He is “the Resurrection and the Life” (John 11:25). When we believe in Him, life is present ALL THE TIME. There is a constant release of divine life and grace that’s always there for us.
We need to not only be conscious that it is there, that HE is there, but we need to RECEIVE this power so it can work in our lives. God will never force His will upon us, but His will for us is always for life and health and fulfillment.
If there is any area of your life that seems “dead” as we celebrate Easter this year, look to Jesus and receive His life-giving power for that situation. Receive His wisdom as your answer. Receive His strength to continue on the journey. Receive His deliverance.
There is no promise that it will happen on OUR schedule, but there is a promise that it WILL happen. Hold fast to that promise and you will see it realized!
Simply say, “Thank You, Jesus, for Your resurrection power that is available me to today to breathe Your divine life into my situation. I receive from You this free gift of power and declare that it will infuse my situation with life. Thank You for reversing anything that looks like a put-down in my life, for promising to turn it around for my good, and for using it to bring glory to the Father. I trust You and look to You as the source of the answer for every problem I am facing. In Your Precious Name, Amen.”
Go WHERE the Lord says go. Go WHEN the Lord says go. These are both statements that as believers, we would like to be able to say we would do. Sometimes the WHEN and the WHERE are very clear, but the WHY may remain a mystery. Are we willing to go with no real explanation of WHY, but simply in obedience to the voice of God that says WHERE and WHEN? How do we deal with ambiguity concerning the call of God? Let me tell you how it all unfolded for me…
Late last year, the Lord impressed upon my heart that I was to go back to Northern Ireland in February 2012. It would be my seventh time visiting this lovely country, so I could easily conjure up a long list of WHYs on my own. But the truth was, God had told me WHERE and WHEN, but He’d left out many of the specifics as to WHY. The WHERE was a no-brainer for me… of course I would go back to visit a land and a people I love! The WHEN… well, February is not the ideal time of year, but hey, they have warmer winters than we have in Minnesota, so that didn’t take much convincing either. As to the WHY… I knew God had a reason, albeit one that I knew not of, and so I decided to fully and completely trust His timing and pack my bags and go.
God has a purpose for asking us to do the things He asks us to do. What can seem insignificant, or silly, or even crazy to us is all a part of God’s divine plan. His divine plan to reach others through us – both saved and unsaved, and also to reach us through other people. Just as the Word of God says, He is delighted in our decisions to obey Him. Especially when we don’t have all the information.
“So Samuel said: ‘Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.’” 1 Samuel 15:22 NJKV
During the three weeks I spent in Northern Ireland, God moved in such a variety of ways! It would take pages and pages for me to describe all the wonderful things He did in and through me! Here are just a few:
I saw Him touch the relative of a friend of mine, just by sitting down and having tea with her. We were just supposed to stop and pick something up and be on our way, but if you’ve ever been to Northern Ireland, you know it’s practically impossible to get out the door without having a “wee cup of tea”. I had never met her before, so we began to talk and she asked me what I was doing in Northern Ireland. I began to share with her my story as to how God connected me with Northern Ireland many years ago, and had called me back there seven times – six of the times being in the past three years. The words I spoke seemed so simple and conversational, and yet she was visibly moved by my testimony and it was clear God was touching her heart. What had seemed like a “delay” to our plans in the natural was really an open opportunity to minister to someone God desperately wanted to reach.
I had the humble honor and privilege of witnessing relationships being repaired and restored that had once been broken. God in His love and mercy had orchestrated this divine restoration, and quite frankly, the only real part I played in it all was just BEING THERE to bring these people in to the same room together. I had no idea what was going to happen before I was standing in the midst of it happening. But in that moment, the Lord said – that”s WHY you needed to be here NOW. It reminded me that we are oftentimes just “divine facilitators”, used by God to bring people into a position where He can minister to them. Whether that involves bringing someone to a PHYSICAL location, or bringing them to a place emotionally where they are open to receive from Him, offering our lives to Him to use as He wills is amazing and rewarding.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV
I had the opportunity to share and lead prayer at a house prayer meeting. We spent time in prayer for the nation of Ireland. The Lord also ministered specific words to people that touched their hearts deeply. God will prompt you to speak certain things to certain people, whether it’s during an “official” time of ministry or just in casual conversation with them. Be open to His promptings and quick to obey, even if it doesn’t make sense to you. It may be a word or phrase you don’t normally use, but it may have very significant meaning to the one hearing it. This can be categorized as a word of wisdom, word of knowledge or prophecy, but when it comes right down to it, no matter what you call it, it’s the Holy Spirit prompting you to reach someone on the Lord’s behalf.
I was also able to minister in a small church I had visited last year – to bring them the NOW Word from the Lord, a word of encouragement. I love going in to the small places that guest ministers may not often, if ever, visit. All of God’s people are important to Him, and this little congregation warms my heart.
In addition, I was able to bring a helping hand to a ministry that’s been launching out into new territory – to come alongside them and do whatever needed to be done to help them realize the vision God has placed in their hearts. I helped make fliers announcing upcoming events, set up ministry resource tables, served tea and biscuits, updated Facebook pages, and other computer-related items – anything practical that I could do to assist them. It’s just as much of a joy to be able to use natural skills and abilities for His Kingdom. I was not only involved on a practical level with this ministry, but on a spiritual level as well, through prayer and sharing the Word.
Now, God did not ask me to go there to give out without the intention of putting something back in! He used many people to speak very specific words to me regarding certain facets of my future, and plans and purposes He has prepared for my life. He gave me many wonderful times of fun and fellowship with dear friends, and added some new ones to the mix! He opened a door for me in the near future to go to an area in the Republic of Ireland that has been on my heart for nearly a year and a half. All I had to do was SHOW UP at the right time in the right place and He brought the right person across my path to make that happen!
One evening, we went to hear a minister from England speak who had experienced revival in his church many years ago. He and his wife literally lived in the manifest Presence of God for six months. From the start of the service, the atmosphere was different from any service I’ve ever been in. He shared out of 2 Kings 6:1-7 NKJV:
“And the sons of the prophets said to Elisha, ‘See now, the place where we dwell with you is too small for us. Please, let us go to the Jordan, and let every man take a beam from there, and let us make there a place where we may dwell.’ So he answered, ‘Go.’ Then one said, ‘Please consent to go with your servants.’ And he answered, ‘I will go.’ So he went with them. And when they came to the Jordan, they cut down trees. But as one was cutting down a tree, the iron ax head fell into the water; and he cried out and said, ‘Alas, master! For it was borrowed.’ So the man of God said, ‘Where did it fall?’ And he showed him the place. So he cut off a stick, and threw it in there; and he made the iron float. Therefore he said, ‘Pick it up for yourself.‘ So he reached out his hand and took it.”
Many truths were shared from this passage, but one thing in particular that I want to share with you. Regarding the ax head – it is like a dream that the Lord has given us that has, for one reason or another, sunk to the bottom of the river. God wants to raise those dreams and plans back to the surface… but when He does, we have to reach out and take them. Otherwise, they will float by and someone else down the river will pick them up.
This very thing he was saying was mirroring something a pastor-friend of mine had said the day before when we met for lunch. She said God has a plan He wants to accomplish in the earth, especially in these ends times, and if we aren’t obedient to the call, He will just skip over us and find someone else.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be skipped over or let my dreams go floating by for someone else to grab. Our quick obedience to the Lord in every area will not only prove to Him that He can trust us and use us in any way He desires, but it will bring to pass the most fulfilled life we could ever imagine living!
God knows the WHY even when we don’t. Sometimes He will let us in on it in advance, but sometimes He needs us to trust Him so He can orchestrate things exactly how He has planned… we just need to be willing to show up and be a part of it! It is in that place of obedience that we will be the biggest blessing possible to others, and also receive a blessing in return.
At Thanksgiving, we oftentimes reflect on WHAT we are thankful for. We think of our family and friends, the freedoms we enjoy living in America, the roof over our heads, the food on our table and the clothes on our backs. We may even think of how God saw us through a difficult time this past year, and we are thankful for His hand of mercy and deliverance. All of these things, and countless others, are definitely things we should to be thankful for.
The way to honor God and walk in His will is to be thankful in EVERY circumstance. Notice all the little things that God does for you – that close parking space, that favorite song that comes on the radio, that super sale on the item you’ve been eying for months, the kind service you received in the checkout lane, that cute dog walking down the street that made you smile, how you avoided that accident just in the nick of time. When we notice these things and stop for a couple of seconds to thank God, we are showing Him our dependence and reliance on Him, our love for Him. We’re letting Him know that we acknowledge His hand of blessing in our lives. He doles out these blessings in hopes that we will indeed seek Him.
That’s why I want to challenge you, that even more than being thankful for the BLESSINGS, let’s be thankful this year for the BLESSER! I believe that being thankful for the BLESSER, above all else, is the greatest and highest way we can fulfill the command we are given in 1 Thessalonians!
“For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.” 2 Corinthians 1:20 NIV
You see, every good and perfect gift comes from above (James 1:17). But we have access to those good and perfect gifts through our Savior, Jesus Christ. He died to give us ACCESS to God the Father. It’s through this relationship with Him that we experience the blessing that adds no sorrow with it (Proverbs 10:22). We experience the FULLNESS of redemption and salvation – in our bodies, souls, spirits, relationships, finances… every area of our lives.
But what about those people in the world who have no relationship with God and yet they seem to be blessed and prosperous? Well, I would propose that a portion of what they are experiencing is the mercy of God towards them… His GOODNESS… which is for a purpose:
“Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and long suffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?” Romans 2:4 NKJV
God desires that ALL men are led to repentance and into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. We are told to give thanks to the Lord, for He is good and His mercy endures forever (Psalm 107:1)!
Jesus Christ is the ULTIMATE gift that’s been given to us. He is our Lord and our Savior. He is our Redeemer and Friend. He is the Restorer of our souls. He sent the Holy Spirit, who is our Comforter, our Helper, and our Teacher (1 John 2:27). We are never left without a solution to any problem. We are comforted in situations that would attempt to discourage us and try to steal our joy.
Let’s be thankful for the PERSON of Jesus Christ, who never leaves us nor forsakes us (Hebrews 13:5). Let’s be thankful for the PERSON of the Holy Spirit, who guides us into all truth (John 16:13). Let’s be thankful for the PERSON of God the Father, who gives us eternal encouragement and good hope (2 Thessalonians 2:16).
“Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations.” Psalm 100:4-5 NKJV
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours from all of us at Celebrate Your Faith!
A hero, as defined by Noah Webster’s Dictionary of 1828, is “a man of distinguished valor, intrepidity or enterprise in danger; as a hero in arms”. The modern-day Merriam-Webster Dictionary places the first meaning of a hero as a mythological or legendary figure. I’d like us to hearken back to Noah Webster’s definition on this Memorial Day as it reminds us that REAL heroes live among us, and have died for our freedom.
Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday which honors and commemorates the men and women who died while in military service. A national moment of remembrance takes place at 3:00 p.m. local time.
Salute or commemorate a loved one serving in the U.S. military by proudly wearing a military cross or medal. These pendants also make treasured gifts for someone serving in the military to assure them that you are praying for them and that their protection is found in God.
The mini-book entitled “Pray for Our Nation”, published by Harrison House, includes this prayer for Veterans:
Father, in the name of Jesus, I thank You for our veterans. I thank You for their willingness to risk all so that our nation might dwell in peace and safety.
May they find the honor and recognition they deserve.
In the name of Your divine Son, I pray that You will heal the physical and psychological wounds some of these veterans have suffered. Bring peace to those who mourn the loss of comrades.
Father, I pray that our nation would learn to respect and acknowledge those who have served their country well.
Scripture Reference: Romans 13:7, John 14:17, John 16:33
Visit the US Memorial Day website for more information on the history of Memorial Day.
Make this Memorial Day about more than barbeques with family and friends, about more than the start of the summer travel season, about more than a 3-day weekend. Take time to truly remember and thank God for the ultimate sacrifice many men and women have paid. Pray for their families and loved ones. And take time to remember and thank the men and women who currently serve in all the branches of our military.
Celebrate Your Faith has many thoughtful and meaningful gifts to honor our service men and women. Check out our Memorial Day Gifts section to find the perfect one today!
60TH ANNUAL OBSERVANCE
A MIGHTY FORTRESS IS OUR GOD
“I WILL SAY OF THE LORD, HE IS MY REFUGE AND MY FORTRESS, MY GOD, IN WHOM I TRUST.” PSALM 91:2
The National Day of Prayer was formally established in 1952 by a joint resolution of the United States Congress, and signed into law by President Harry S. Truman. In 1988, the law was amended and signed by President Reagan, permanently setting the day as the first Thursday of every May.
The official website of the National Day of Prayer states: “The National Day of Prayer has great significance for us as a nation. It enables us to recall and to teach the way in which our founding fathers sought the wisdom of God when faced with critical decisions. It stands as a call to us to humbly come before God, seeking His guidance for our leaders and His grace upon us as a people. The unanimous passage of the bill establishing the National Day of Prayer as an annual event, signifies that prayer is as important to our nation today as it was in the beginning.”
National Day of Prayer Official Site: http://nationaldayofprayer.org/
The 2011 National Day of Prayer Proclamation, issued by the President of the United States, reads:
Throughout our history, Americans have turned to prayer for strength, inspiration, and solidarity.
Prayer has played an important role in the American story and in shaping our Nation’s leaders. President Abraham Lincoln once said, “I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for the day.” The late Coretta Scott King recounted a particularly difficult night, during the Montgomery bus boycott, when her husband, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., received a threatening phone call and prayed at the kitchen table, saying, “Lord, I have nothing left. I have nothing left. I have come to the point where I can’t face it alone.” Dr. King said, in that moment of prayer, he was filled with a sense of comfort and resolve, which his wife credited as a turning point in the civil rights movement.
It is thus fitting that, from the earliest years of our country’s history, Congress and Presidents have set aside days to recognize the role prayer has played in so many definitive moments in our history. On this National Day of Prayer, let us follow the example of President Lincoln and Dr. King. Let us be thankful for the liberty that allows people of all faiths to worship or not worship according to the dictates of their conscience, and let us be thankful for the many other freedoms and blessings that we often take for granted.
Let us pray for the men and women of our Armed Forces and the many selfless sacrifices they and their families make on behalf of our Nation. Let us pray for the police officers, firefighters, and other first responders who put themselves in harm’s way every day to protect their fellow citizens. And let us ask God for the sustenance and guidance for all of us to meet the great challenges we face as a Nation.
Let us remember in our thoughts and prayers those who have been affected by natural disasters at home and abroad in recent months, as well as those working tirelessly to render assistance. And, at a time when many around the world face uncertainty and unrest, but also hold resurgent hope for freedom and justice, let our prayers be with men and women everywhere who seek peace, human dignity, and the same rights we treasure here in America.
The Congress, by Public Law 100-307, as amended, has called on the President to issue each year a proclamation designating the first Thursday in May as a “National Day of Prayer.”
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim May 5, 2011, as a National Day of Prayer. I invite all citizens of our Nation, as their own faith or conscience directs them, to join me in giving thanks for the many blessings we enjoy, and I ask all people of faith to join me in asking God for guidance, mercy, and protection for our Nation.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-ninth day of April, in the year of our Lord two thousand eleven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fifth.
You can also view this Proclamation online by visiting http://nationaldayofprayer.org/news/2010-presidential-proclamation/2011-proclamation/
This year’s theme, “A Mighty Fortress is Our God”, is also the name of one of Martin Luther’s best known hymns (full lyrics here). It has been called the “Battle Hymn of the Reformation” and perhaps that is why it is so fitting as a theme.
We are undergoing a reformation of sorts in the country right now. People across the country are fed up with the status quo of things and are seeking meaning for their lives. Many of these people are turning to God and seeking a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. They are not satisfied with “arm chair Christianity” any longer. Simply attending church once a week is not fulfilling.
One of the cornerstones of a personal relationship with is prayer. Jesus made a way for us to be intimate with the Father when He sprinkled His blood in the Heavenly Holy of Holies. He once and for all opened up unhindered access to God to each one of us through His blood. What a marvelous privilege we have been given!
Prayer is communication with God. It is fellowship with Him. It is a time to bring our concerns and petitions before Him, to thank Him for all He has done for us, and also to listen. Prayer is a two-way communication, a conversation… a dialogue rather than a monologue.
If we would learn to listen more than we speak, it could go a long way toward experiencing answered prayer. When we take the time to first receive the Father’s heart about something, our asking comes in to line with His will and desire for the situation, and it will surely come to pass.
Once we have listened and then asked in accordance with His will, our next step is to listen again, to see if God wants to use us in any way to bring about the answer to these prayers that we have prayed. Sometimes the burden to pray is just that, a burden to bring something before the Lord in prayer. But sometimes that burden in prayer then translates into Spirit-led action. We are His hands and feet in the earth, and most of what God accomplishes in this Church-age is going to be through His people.
On this ever-important National Day of Prayer, I encourage you bring your prayers and petitions for this country before the Lord, and then listen for what He would have you do to be a part in bringing those very prayers to pass.
Maybe it will be through a commitment to pray more, to regularly lift up this nation, its leaders and its people before Him. Maybe it will be to get involved in your church in a new capacity in order to minister to others. Maybe it will be to volunteer at the local homeless shelter. Maybe it will be to lobby your Congressperson. Maybe it will be to spend more time with your kids to ensure they grow up knowing they are loved and supported.
Let’s use this special day to lift all US citizens – children, adolescents, parents, the elderly, business people, civic leaders and decision-makers, pastors and clergy – before the Lord. And let’s take time to thank the Lord for all He has done for us as a nation and in our private lives. Thank Him for the protection and favor He has afforded us.
Join a National Day of Prayer event in your community or hold a prayer gathering in your home or workplace. Find a way to participate in this most important day.
Events being held throughout Minnesota, and in the Twin Cities Metro Area, can be found by visiting these links:
National Day of Prayer Event Locator: http://nationaldayofprayer.org/about/find-an-event/
“I am the resurrection and the life…” As I was preparing this week to write this blog for Easter Sunday, I received word that my Grandma was going into hospice care for her last days here on the earth. Even though we had been preparing for this day for a long time, no one is ever fully prepared to get that news. In the midst of a whirlwind of emotions and rearranging my schedule to be able to go see her, this portion of Scripture kept coming to me.
Jesus conquered the last enemy of Death when He died on the cross and rose again three days later. Because of His ultimate sacrifice, we not only get to spend eternity with Him in heaven, but with all our friends and relatives who are saved. This assurance is what allowed me to say goodbye to my Grandma with only a bit of sadness in my heart. The rest of me was filled with joy and gladness at the thought of her going to heaven to be with Jesus, to not be in pain anymore, and to see her husband who had gone on 30 years before her.
This Easter, as I contemplate the Father’s love for me, I see the arms of Jesus, His Son, stretched out wide before Him. Those arms were stretched and nailed to the cross. Not only did Jesus see all of us when He was hanging there going through sheer agony, but our Father saw each of our faces as He turned His back on His Son for the first and only time in history. It’s as though each person ever created were standing shoulder to shoulder and he looked into each face one by one as He turned away. It was a painful turning, but a necessary turning, if He would ever have the family He desired from the moment He created Adam.
That is why this Scripture is true for us: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” (James 1:17 NKJV)
The Amplified Bible says it this way: “Every good gift and every perfect (free, large, full) gift is from above; it comes down from the Father of all [that gives] light, in [the shining of] Whom there can be no variation [rising or setting] or shadow cast by His turning [as in an eclipse]. And it was of His own [free] will that He gave us birth [as sons] by [His] Word of Truth…” (James 1:17-18a AMP)
God the Father will never cast a shadow on us by turning His back on us because He did that with His Son, Jesus, Who was the redemptive sacrifice for all our sins. We are privileged to look on God’s face, to see the bright shining of His glory, because of what Jesus did.
Jesus died so that we might be part of the New Creation, created in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:10). When we were born again into the family of God, the Holy Spirit made His home in us. He is called the “Spirit of truth” (John 15:26; 16:13). The Spirit of truth testifies to the Word of Truth, that is, the Person of Jesus. Jesus was the Word made flesh (John 1:14).
Each of these realities are brought together in the following Scripture: “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise” Ephesians 1:13 NJKV
Each person of the Godhead – the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit – was involved in overall plan for mankind in a distinct, yet integrated, way. This plan that had been birthed even before the foundations of the world was culminated in the crucifixion and subsequent resurrection of Jesus.
This Easter, think of the LIFE that Jesus opened to us by His death, burial and resurrection. He made us sons and daughters of God. He saved us from eternal damnation. He delivered us from sickness and disease. He gave us peace for our minds and our hearts. He made a way for the Holy Spirit to come and dwell in us – to guide us in all truth, to teach us all things, to empower us to preach the gospel to every creature. He redeemed us from poverty and lack. He restored fellowship with our Father God. And this is just a sampling of what He did! The heights and depths of His love for us we will never fully comprehend.
Because of His resurrection, we will be raised with Him in that last day.
“And when this perishable puts on the imperishable and this that was capable of dying puts on freedom from death, then shall be fulfilled the Scripture that says, Death is swallowed up (utterly vanquished forever) in and unto victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? …But thanks be to God, Who gives us the victory [making us conquerors] through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:54-56; 58 AMP
Praise the Lord! He is Risen… He is Risen Indeed!
by Jennifer R.
This mission trip to Uganda was indeed a trip of breakthroughs! I experienced personal breakthroughs in many areas, and we experienced breakthroughs as a missions team also.
Your prayers over me and our team for physical strength were felt every step of the way! We were on the go from morning until night, there were so many opportunities for ministry and prayer and we wanted to take advantage of everything we could while we were there.
One day, we had the privilege of ministering on an island in Lake Victoria that we accessed via a 2-hour boat ride in a small wooden boat. Lake Victoria is second in size only to Lake Superior in terms of freshwater lakes. The day was calm and although storm clouds threatened at one point, we made the entire journey with no rain and pleasant conditions.
When we arrived on the island, we then proceeded on a 2+ mile uphill hike to reach the church where we were going to minister. We all reached the church slightly exhausted but happy to be there! Then a group of us went out and ministered hut-to-hut, to share the love of Jesus with people and also give them a gift bag with some very basic necessities inside: rice, sugar, salt, soap, matches, etc.
My interpreter decided he wanted to take me to the farthest hut we would be reaching that day. I followed him as he led the way, through dirt paths and then beyond the dirt paths unto the brush where we made our own path! It was well worth the journey, as an entire family gave their hearts to Jesus that day.
On the mission field, we often have the honor and privilege of seeing Scripture brought to life right before our eyes. In this precious family I just mentioned, the youngest girl was the first person to want to pray to receive Jesus as her Lord and Savior, and from there, the other kids prayed and then the mother prayed. “…A little child will lead them.” Isaiah 11:6.
We had many other ministry opportunities, each one of them precious and unique. We ministered to orphans and widows, ministered hut-to-hut and brought gift bags of essentials for the people, preached in churches and a school, visited a hospital and prayed for the sick and for new mothers and babies, prayed over pieces of land, visited the headwaters of the Nile River, and truly became ministers of reconciliation to the people of Uganda.
“All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.” 2 Corinthians 5:18-19.
In the process, we were touched and changed – becoming more tenderhearted and learning to listen all that much more closely to the Holy Spirit for His leading in every situation. God is a personal God, and ministry should also be personal. We can try the same “formula” for every situation and will often see some results, but the better and more lasting way is to ask God how He would have us reach each person. It will not only be life-changing for them, but for us as well.
I experienced personal breakthroughs in the area of healing for my physical body, complete with a good report from the doctor upon my return. This trip was the first of many “return” trips to Africa, and I am excited to see what God has in store. When we are faithful to step out and obey when we hear His voice, He always shows up in a big way and blesses us above and beyond what we could ask or think.
Thank you for your faithfulness to pray for our team. You were there with us in spirit, and can rejoice with us over all that the Lord accomplished!
Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is the holiest day of the year for Jews. Atonement and repentance are its central themes. Jews traditionally observe this holy day with a 25-hour period of fasting and intensive prayer. Yom Kippur completes the annual period known as the High Holy Days.
According to Jewish tradition, God inscribes each person’s fate for the coming year into a book, the Book of Life, on Rosh Hashanah, and waits until Yom Kippur to “seal” the verdict. During the ten Days of Awe, Jews try to amend their behavior and seek forgiveness for wrongs done against God and against other human beings. The evening and day of Yom Kippur are set aside for public and private petitions and confessions of guilt. At the end of Yom Kippur, one considers one’s self absolved by God.
For Jewish believers, Yom Kippur is seen more as a day of prayer and intercession on behalf of the people of Israel. Of course, we must have a clean heart when approaching God in this matter, just like the Temple priest did before he asked for mercies over his people.
The high priest first made atonement for personal sin (Leviticus 16). As believers we are still in need of introspection and repentance (Psalm 139:3, 1 John 1:9). We continue to have a need to humble our hearts before God (Psalm 34:183.
The high priest next made atonement for the tabernacle (Numbers 18). But those earthly items still needed atonement yearly in order to be fit for God’s dwelling. As believers, this is important because 1 Corinthians 3:16 reminds us that today, our physical bodies are temples of God, because the Holy Spirit lives in us. Even though Jesus (Yeshua) bears our iniquity (Isaiah 53:6) we still need to make atonement to allow the presence of God to fill us in a greater measure.
The high priest then interceded for God’s forgiveness upon the community. As believers, we are called to pray and intercede for the communities to which we belong, be they physical, emotional, geographical, spiritual, vocational, etc. Examples of intercession can be found many places in the Bible, including Exodus 32:11-14, Daniel 9:2-19, Isaiah 58, Ezra 9:1-6, Romans 8:26, Hebrews 7:25.
Messianic Believers also traditionally read from Hebrews 5-7 on Yom Kippur, which speak about Yeshua as the High Priest according to “the order of Melchizedek.”
Our sins are cleansed by the blood of Yeshua, our Savior and Messiah, but we participate in Yom Kippur by fasting and praying for the Jewish people and the nation of Israel as priests and representatives of the High Priest Yeshua today!
See Yom Kippur gift ideas on CelebrateYourFaith.com