The Topic Of Love

Love – What a topic! The whole Bible is a love story, and now we will condense it to three paragraphs.

Maybe even to one word—Jesus!

He is the central theme in the whole Bible, and he is co-author not only of the Bible but, also, of life itself.

We should be glad that God the Father has made it simple for us: accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior and live forever, or reject him and miss out on eternal life.  You may say that this is narrow and too severe, that there should be some latitude to allow for human error.

You would not ask this same casualness from your airline pilot on a trans-Atlantic flight or from your country’s president in a nuclear crisis; no, my friend, you would want to know that there was a sure guaranteed way of success provided by your leader, and that is exactly what God The Father has provided us in his Son, “The way, the truth, and the life.”

“The law came through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”  Grace and truth are what we need; they are God’s love expressed—grace, the gift of his presence and power in our life, and truth, the knowledge of the secrets of life.  

We need both God’s presence and power and also to know his secrets, if we are to prosper in this life.  Life is a lot like a Rubik’s Cube – we must practice constantly to learn the right patterns of life that will result in our desired result—a puzzle solved and a finished work of art.  

And only in Jesus do we have a picture of the finished result and also a coach that will guide us through all of the winning moves.

Love Story is a touching movie about a husband and wife’s passionate love as the wife is dying. Fortunately, in Jesus, the dying part has already been accomplished—we have already died with Christ (symbolized in our baptism) and only bliss and glory await us on the other side.  

We are so steeped in life’s dramas and traumas that this truth can barely penetrate our toughened exterior; we are afraid of another false hope that will crush our spirits. However, this hope is sure; his promise is steadfast, and, if we hold on to our faith and hope, life, glory, and bliss are our sure rewards.

Jesus himself is our reward.  And not to worry; God meets us more than halfway.  If we make up our minds to persevere with him, he moves heaven and earth to make sure that we succeed.  He has no higher priority.  As it is written: “He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.”—Hebrews 7:25 (NKJV).

— Brad Heilhecker

Heat

Heat… Last week I wrote about the unexpected rain we experienced. August in our region is known for high temperatures. We always told people who wanted to travel to Israel to avoid August because it was miserable outside most days. Here in Cyprus it is almost always in the 90’s and often close to 100.

That is upper 30’s and low 40’s for those who follow the Celsius thermometer. In Israel it was more of a dry heat. The humidity here makes us sweat. At least here in Cyprus there are lots of swimming pools. Our current home does not have a pool, so we opted for a water park pass that has been our life saver this year. It helps to “beat the heat.”

But, enough on the joys of how to try and stay cool. What does heat have to do with the Word and our spiritual lives? We have all heard different teachings. Let’s look at a couple of verses.

Deuteronomy 28:22 Adonai will strike you down with wasting diseases, fever, inflammation, fiery heat, drought, blasting winds and mildew; and they will pursue you until you perish.

Why would God do this? We have to go back to verse 15:

“But if you refuse to pay attention to what Adonai your God says, and do not observe and obey all his mitzvot and regulations which I am giving you today, then all the following curses will be yours in abundance:

In between 15 and 22 are many curses that God will send, and they continue for many verses after. After reading them I don’t think that I want to disobey the commands of  Adonai.

As God brings Israel back to her glory, Isaiah 4 gives us insight into the beauty that will occur. Verse 6 says:

A sukkah will give shade by day from the heat; it will also provide refuge and cover from storm and rain.

God’s sukkah, which is a covering, will bring refreshment to the land. He will watch over them. A sukkah is the “tent” the Jewish people build during the festival of Sukkot. They eat in it every night and some sleep in it. It is a wonderful time to be in Israel. As you walk through Jerusalem (and drive through the land) you see these three sided additions to balconies and on the sides of homes. They have palm branches for their “roof” so they can see the greatness of God and be reminded of all that He has done for them.

A “sukkah” to provide refuge from the heat. What a blessing for those who choose to walk in His ways.

As we move into the New Testament, we see that Jesus used heat in some of His teachings. Matthew 20:12

These latecomers have worked only one hour, while we have borne the brunt of the day’s work in the hot sun, yet you have put them on an equal footing with us!’

The hot sun. The Israelites knew all about the heat of the day. The parable Jesus told spoke of workers hired to work in the field. Obviously those listening did not think it fair that someone who came halfway through the day received the same pay as someone who started the day and worked through.

The teaching of Jesus was clear, for those who wanted to understand. It doesn’t matter when you choose to follow Adonai, when you do the blessing is the same for all. The heat of the day will affect us all. But when we choose to follow the Master, He will give us all life eternal.

We cannot speak about heat without looking at the book of Revelation 7:16

They will never again be hungry, they will never again be thirsty, the sun will not beat down on them,nor will any burning heat.

The verses above are actually from the book of Isaiah. As John received his revelation and wrote his words, Adonai gave Him reminders from the Prophets. We all look forward to the day when those who will surround the throne of the King of kings will “never again be hungry or thirsty.”

The verse above once again tells us that those who choose to follow the commands of Adonai, believe in Him and His Words, they will be blessed. They will one day surround the Throne and no longer feel the beating sun.

We live in days of “global warming.” I know the atmosphere is changing. I can agree with some things that scientists say are happening. But, I also know that some of these changes are happening to wake us up and prepare us for what is coming.

The KING is coming and we need to be ready.

The heat we face is not just physical heat. We also have spiritual heat that comes at us. Words thrown out against us. Temptations placed in front of us. Decisions that must be made. We are getting hit from all sides and it is spiritually exhausting. Just like physical heat can drain us, spiritual battles will as well.

We must find our place of refuge in His Sukkah. We must find our place to rest in His Words. His promises are true. When we ground ourselves in His Truth, we will be blessed. He can prepare a table for us in the presence of our enemies and we won’t think twice. We will continue to enjoy His peace because He is our Shepherd.

Finding our place of rest in Him will prepare us for His coming. The heat will tire us, but His strength will get us through. We will continue to walk in His Truth so we are ready when the King comes.

Keep on grounding yourself in His Words. Let His Words bring you the peace and strength you need. Find ways to rest in Him so you are READY when He comes. Don’t get caught without your oil. Keep your lamp burning with His oil. The oil of gladness and the oil of joy.

So many thoughts about HEAT. Just prepare and be ready!

Shabbat Shalom,

Rose Horton

Photo by Cullan Smith on Unsplash

Pushing In

Is anyone else feeling the need to really FIGHT FOR INTIMACY right now?

There is something happening in the spiritual atmosphere around us. I feel and see so many distractions, feelings of “numbness” or “tiredness.” Some are just outright demonic attacks on our time with the Lord. It makes me want to push in MORE THAN EVER for the fullness of what He has for us, mostly because I know that pushback only comes when something great is moving forward.

Intimacy with Him is more important now than ever.  There is a place of intimacy in the Father’s arms where we feel absolute love and acceptance. This fuels our soul and makes us stand firm in identity, which then leads to increase in our lives and ministries.  There is great intimacy for us with the Holy Spirit, where we are empowered to execute in the natural what God has prepared for us in the Spiritual.

There is a deep intimacy with our savior, Jesus, where we know who we are and how truly transformed by Him we are. These are the places where we find true satisfaction and all that we need.

It is such a profoundly important place to be. Intimacy is where fear falls away. Where identity and affirmation are restored. It is where we are empowered and loved and our perspective changes, and thus the world around us changes. Even circumstances change. Intimacy is actually where we were created to be. It is where we come alive and fully awake.

It is the single most important thing in our walk as a Believer….

… and it is the most attacked. It is constantly confronted with busyness and distraction. A fog sometimes comes over people when they try to go deep, and the feelings of not feeling connected to Him can be overwhelming.  These feelings can lie to us, making us feel not enough or lacking.  Ironically, it’s actually in His presence where we find the truth that we ARE ENOUGH and that we have everything we need in Christ.  The devil is so crafty.

But I hear the Lord say KEEP PUSHING IN! DON’T LET GO! In His Presence, we find EVERYTHING we need. I cannot stress enough, it’s where we were CREATED to be.  Eternal life IS KNOWING HIM intimately.


No more listening to the lies of the enemy. No more allowing feelings to dictate. It’s time to rise up in authority and PUSH IN. GO DEEP. As you draw near to Him, He promises to draw near to you. His heart is WIDE OPENED. Come as you are.


I break off every assignment of the enemy off of your time in the Secret Place, in Jesus Name!


THIS is who you are. PUSH IN!

This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. – John 17:3

— Mandy Woodhouse

Holy Or Holier Than Thou

The Lord loves holiness, but he despises a holier than thou attitude.

This is best seen in his rebuke to the proud in Isaiah 65:5 (NKJV) where he addresses those who say: “‘Keep to yourself, Do not come near me, for I am holier than you!’ (God says) These are smoke in My nostrils, a fire that burns all the day.”  

Our holiness is to be our Christ centeredness – 1 Corinthians 1:30–31 (NIV): “It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.  Therefore, as it is written: ‘Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.’”

There is to be no false pride or vain comparison among ourselves in Christ.  As says Galatians 6:4 (NIV): “Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else.”  Everything that we are or ever hope to be will be a gift of grace, a work of God on our behalf.

We can be like the apostle Paul who had a terrific testimony and great self esteem but who was exceedingly humble: 1 Timothy 1:15 (NKJV): “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.” 

There is no holiness without love: 1 Thessalonians 3:12–13 (NKJV): “And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you, so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.”  As the beloved disciple John wrote: “And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.” – 1 John 4:16 (NKJV)

— Brad Heilhecker

Choose Love

No, Not Today Boo Boo –

Not ANY DAY Boo Boo ….

You may think you’re winning, but you’re not!

I am sick of you over playing your hand.

You just think you’re gaining ground.

You are a liar and greatly mistaken.

You’ve been defeated.

You have no power.

God wins.

God always wins in the end.

When nothing feels good or right in this crazy world – God is still good! Period!

There is evil and there is good.

There is life and there is death.

There is darkness and there is light.

There is hate and there is love.

The great pendulum swing seems to not be so wide of a dividing spectrum these days.

The lines have become grossly blurred.

Lord, open our eyes, give us ears to hear, change our hearts and minds. Break our hearts for what breaks Yours.

I don’t have the answers to this evil and hatred and overwhelming tragedy happening in the world.

Sometimes we won’t ever get the answers we are looking for this side of Heaven.

Help us trust You Lord even when it doesn’t make any sense.

Help us choose to focus on what is Good, to choose Life and Light …. and above all —Please let us choose LOVE. Perfect LOVE.

In our thoughts in our words and in our actions.

Hate and anger is way too heavy a burden to carry. Nothing good comes from any of it. Don’t get caught up in it.

Reduce us to LOVE Lord.

Because when we choose LOVE – Miracles Happen!

“Where there is great love there are alway miracles. “— Willa Carther

— XXOO Michelle Bollom

He Left The Ninety-Nine

She remembers how Papa

came to her rescue

When her world came 

crashing down 

Confused and shaken

Many unanswered questions 

A dead silence pulling her 

to a dark space

Every negative emotion 

flooded her mind

Anger

Betrayal 

Rejection 

Pain

Overcome by feelings of unworthiness

Her heart shattered into a 

thousand of pieces

Her body bent low by deep anguish 

Her eyes reflected deep sorrow

Would she ever laugh again?

Father calmed her raging heart

He tamed her wild emotions

Poured His anointing oils into 

every crevice, every space of 

her broken heart

Till a light was ignited in 

her eyes

Papa restored her every hurt

She has awakened from her 

deep sleep

She glistens with His glory

She now knows who she is

Her identity engraved in Father

He left the ninety-nine to 

search and heal her heart

For too long she searched for 

her healing in all the wrong places 

Filled the void in her heart 

with stuff and people

She had to walk this lonely 

road to find herself 

Put her past behind her

Learn many lessons

To realize that her biggest need 

was always Jesus.

— Ebigale Wilson

He Left The Ninety-Nine

Instruments Of Grace

“Be all you can be” – U.S. Army.

 “Be like me” – Jesus.  “

Live up to the measure of the status quo” – the modern church.  

Jesus and the military call us to greatness, but does modern Christianity?  Certainly, we are encouraged to think great thoughts and to be generous in our service and our giving; but are we encouraged to move out and take new ground for Jesus?  Are we encouraged to entertain actions that have not been prescribed in the church syllabus?

Revelation contains seven letters from Christ to seven churches that existed in the first century, none of whom exist today.  What happened to these churches?  Could it be that what overtook them is similar to what is happening to Christianity in our lifetime?  Are we facing the encroachment and the enslavement of the world system in our churches?  

Materialism replacing kingdom living?  Sensuality replacing spirituality?

These answers and many more are to be found only in the secret counsel of the most high: Psalm 25:14 (NIV): “The Lord confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them.”  It is a monumental challenge to move out from under the weight of an entrenched and compromised church, but maybe this step is only the beginning of our moving out and opposing the “ruler of this world”—Satan, (John 12:21)—in his claim to this generation.  

For we know that Our Father has a gentleman’s agreement with his enemy—everything that does not belong to Jesus goes to his enemy by default.  Will we commit ourselves to The Redeemer of mankind to be instruments of his redeeming grace?

— Brad Heilhecker

Rain

Rain… This word came to my mind because we were awakened at 6 am to the sound of raindrops. We scrambled a little to put a few items that were outside under the awning.

Rain in Cyprus in the month of August is unheard of. A friend at the grocery store said she has been here 24 years and has never seen rain in Cyprus in August. I read that Haifa had a rain shower yesterday. Having lived in Israel before here, we know how rare that is. Rain, even in September is highly unlikely. It wasn’t a hard rain this morning, but enough to “dampen” the ground.

Rain is important in the Word. There are several times that God tells the Children of Israel that He will withhold rain if they do not follow His Words.

Amos 4:7 “I withheld the rain from you three months before the harvest. I made it rain on one city and not on another —one field had rain, while another with no rain dried up;

There is an interesting story in Ezra 10:13-14 about when the Children of Israel sinned against God and married foreign women. They didn’t want to stand out in the rain during the “rainy season.” They sent the leaders to represent the community.

13 But there are many people, and it’s the rainy season — we can’t stay out here in the open. Also, it isn’t the work of a day or two; for there are many of us who have committed this crime. 14 Let our leaders represent the whole community; and let all those in our cities who have married foreign women appear at prearranged times, accompanied by the elders and judges of each city; until our God’s fierce anger over this has been turned away from us.”

In the book of Acts (chapter 14:15-17), right before the stoning of Paul this is what Paul and Barnabas told the people:

15 “Men! Why are you doing this? We’re just men, human like you! We are announcing Good News to you — turn from these worthless things to the living God who made heaven and earth and the sea and everything in them! 16 In times past, he allowed all peoples to walk in their own ways; 17 yet he did not leave himself without evidence of his nature; because he does good things, giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons, filling you with food and your hearts with happiness!”

God does allow people to “live in their sin” at times. Sometimes He will allow rain. Sometimes He will withhold rain. Sometimes He will do good things in spite of what people do. Other times He will allow their demise and have them struggle.

We should be in a season of seeking Him. We should be in a place of asking Him for His Truth. We should be focusing on Who He is and His greatness, while striving to let our lights shine for Him. Although I often struggle with complaining and become like the Children of Israel, I pray I am learning to strengthen my faith and trust in WHO my Father is and that HE knows what is best.

That as I seek Him and His TRUTH I will not be like Israelites who turned from His Promises and did their own thing.

If we are being a light and love to those around us, than we will make a difference. If we are showing those we come in contact with His grace, than we will be a blessing of rain to them. The song, “There shall be showers of blessing” comes to my mind.

There shall be showers of blessing:

This is the promise of love;

There shall be seasons refreshing,

Sent from the Savior above.

 Showers of blessing,

 Showers of blessing we need;

 Mercy-drops round us are falling,

 But for the showers we plead.

There shall be showers of blessing-

 Precious reviving again;

Over the hills and the valleys,

Sound of abundance of rain.

There shall be showers of blessing;

Send them upon us, O Lord!

Grant to us now a refreshing;

Come, and now honor Thy Word.

There shall be showers of blessing;

O that today they might fall,

Now as to God we’re confessing,

 Now as on Jesus we call!

There shall be showers of blessing,

 If we but trust and obey;

There shall be seasons refreshing,

 If we let God have His way.

source: https://www.lyricsondemand.com/miscellaneouslyrics/christianlyrics/thereshallbeshowersofblessinglyrics.html

When we are following His Truths, we will find ourselves refreshed and in abundance. We need His drops of mercy every day. We want HIS revival. The words “Now as to God we’re confessing, Now as on Jesus we call!” should be our hearts cry. And the last verse, “If we but trust and obey; There shall be seasons refreshing, If we let God have His way.”

Words we need to be reminded of as we walk out these crazy times and days. It isn’t going to get easier. God’s Word has made that clear.

Ground yourself in HIS Truth. Focus on what He is doing. Let Him bring you the refreshing.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rose Horton

Photo by reza shayestehpour on Unsplash

Encouragement For The Replanted

Then the nations that are left all around you shall know that I am the LORD; I have rebuilt the ruined places and replanted that which was desolate. I am the LORD; I have spoken, and I will do it. – Jeremiah 36:36

Have any of our readers ever experienced personal root shock? Trust me, you’d know if you had.

In a ministry leadership meeting I attended recently, we were asked to reflect upon our past year and how we feel we have grown, how our character had been refined, and how we feel we have changed.  

The only words that kept coming to my mind were the words “root shock.”

I am so familiar with root shock. My parents both had green thumbs, so we always had plants around our home growing up.  I remember this one plant that was in a larger pot on my parents’ back porch.  It had grown quite large and leafy-green, and it was even blossoming and dropping seeds yearly, but my Mom was convinced it was being stifled in that pot.  My Dad decided to replant it in another part of the yard, and he did everything one is supposed to do when replanting greenery.  The plant apparently had root shock the first few months it was transplanted, so my Dad had to prune it WAY BACK to almost nothing so that the roots could get everything they needed from the soil and recover more quickly.  

Within months, the plant had not only recovered, but it had grown so large that it was actually taller than the one-story house, and the blooms on it were the size of a small animal!  My Dad again had to keep it cut back to beneath the roof and keep it watered and well-looked after.

People can have root shock too.

The past 12 months – pandemic aside – has been “root shock” for me.  And I know for a fact it has felt the same for many others in the body of Christ.  Like my husband and I, many have moved countries or states.  Many have left old jobs for new, old friendships for what feels like isolation, and many have been removed from communities that they thought they would serve forever.  Almost like pieces on a chess board, it feels like the Lord has strategically been moving and placing people in new areas as He sets up His “check mate” on the enemy in the last days.  All will know that He is Lord, and how amazing that we get to play a part in that.

If you have indeed experienced a form of “root shock” and pruning over this last little time, I want to encourage you with this little prophetic picture of the plant from my parents’ yard so many years ago.  

Perhaps you were blossoming and thriving where you were, and now the pruning has been so painful you wonder when you will ever feel the blooms again.  Maybe you have been pruned so hard that you feel exposed, vulnerable, even lacking. Let me encourage you, through Jesus we only ever have REBUILDING, REPLANTING and RECOMPENSE!  He prunes us so that we can endure the amount of fruit that He has actually called us to carry in this next season.  He replants us for the sake of not only OUR BEST, but also to fulfill the destiny He has for us and for the world.  Even when we find ourselves desolate and barren, we can trust that there will be NEW LIFE spring forth, with more fruit than we had ever expected!

Don’t despise the replanting.  

The root shock doesn’t last for long.  When you stay well-watered and in the sunshine, your growth will explode!  Be encouraged!

— Mandy Woodhouse