Tag Archives: beloved readers

The Heavy Weight…

When Jacob’s ten eldest sons left Canaan for Egypt, guilt weighed heavily on each of them.  Foremost in their hearts and minds was the image of their father, so frail and old now, with fear for his youngest son, Benjamin etched in his face, as he refused to let him travel with them.  Their father had been such a strong and vital part of their lives, as he cared for them and their mothers over the years.  He had always had such a strong, unshakable faith in El Shaddai, but in the years since Joseph’s death, even his faith seemed to have failed him.

Nothing had worked out as they had imagined it would.  Their evil actions hadn’t brought them more of their father’s love, without Joseph there to steal it.  Instead, it had brought them more pain and loneliness.  Instead of earning their father’s undivided love, they had earned his fear and distrust, as well as a heavy burden of guilt, like a massive weight that threatened to break them, as they carried it with them everywhere they went.  Indeed, in the twenty years since they had sinned against their brother, Joseph, their burdens had only grown heavier.

When they entered into Egypt, they learned that they would have to ask Egypt’s governor to allow them to purchase the grain needed for their families to survive, due to the severity of the famine.  Therefore, they lined up, behind the others who had gathered to collect the much needed grain.  Finally, after waiting for many long hours, the ten brothers stood before the governor of Egypt, and immediately dropped to their knees and bowed before him.

Joseph, the governor, paled at the sight of his ten older brothers, bowing down before him.  He recognized them instantly, and caught his breath, as his heart pounded furiously within his chest. It felt like it might break free from his ribs.  As the lump in his throat grew, Joseph fought the tears that threatened to spill.  Looking at them now, bowed down before him, he couldn’t help but remember the dreams he’d had as a youth, in which, his brothers had bowed down to him.

Struggling to pull himself together, Joseph’s voice was harsh as he spoke to his brothers, “Where are you from?”

“We come from the land of Canaan,” they replied.  “We have come to buy food.”

Although he had immediately recognized his brothers, they didn’t recognize Joseph, and why should they?  In their minds, they imagined that he had probably died, or at the very least, was still a slave to a foreign master.  Joseph didn’t reveal himself to his brothers.  Instead, he pretended to be a stranger, and said to them, “You are spies!  You have come to see how vulnerable our land has become.”

How rigidly he must have held himself, so as not to break down in front of these brothers that he had loved as a child, only to be betrayed by them when he was just a teenager.  Beloved reader, have you known the pain of betrayal at the hands of a family member?  If so, surely you can understand how difficult it must have been for Joseph to maintain control of his emotions.  How conflicted he must have felt.  For, on the one hand, he loved these brothers, and he must have longed for news of their family.  Yet, on the other hand, he must have felt an intense explosion of rage welling up within him, to see his betrayers, for the first time in twenty years.

Proverbs 29:11
Complete Jewish Bible

A fool gives vent to all his feelings,
    but the wise, thinking of afterwards, stills them.

Fear gripped the brothers’ hearts, and they quickly responded to Joseph’s accusation, “No, my lord!  Your servants have simply come to buy food.  We are all brothersmembers of the same family.  We are honest men, sir!  We are not spies!”

Joseph continued his charade.  “Yes, you are!  You have come to see how vulnerable our land has become,” he insisted.

“Sir,” the brothers replied, desperate to make him understand, “there are actually twelve of us.  We, your servants, are all brothers, sons of a man living in the land of Canaan.  Our youngest brother is back there with our father right now, and one of our brothers is no longer with us.”

Still, Joseph insisted, “As I said, you are spies!  This is how I will test your story.  I swear by the life of Pharaoh that you will never leave Egypt unless your youngest brother comes here!  One of you must go and get your brother.  I’ll keep the rest of you here in prison.  Then we’ll find out whether or not your story is true.  By the life of Pharaoh, if it turns out that you don’t have a younger brother, then I’ll know you are spies.”

So, Joseph put them all in prison for three days.  How tormented he must have been, as all of the emotions that he thought were long gone, came rushing over him.  It was like reliving his brothers’ betrayal and brutality all over again.  How he must have cried out to ‘Elyon, to strengthen him, and give him wisdom.

Psalm 3
New King James

Lord, how they have increased who trouble me!
Many are they who rise up against me.
Many are they who say of me,
“There is no help for him in God.” Selah

But You, O Lord, are a shield for me,
My glory and the One who lifts up my head.
I cried to the Lord with my voice,
And He heard me from His holy hill. Selah

I lay down and slept;
I awoke, for the Lord sustained me.
I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people
Who have set themselves against me all around.

Arise, O Lord;
Save me, O my God!
For You have struck all my enemies on the cheekbone;
You have broken the teeth of the ungodly.
Salvation belongs to the Lord.
Your blessing is upon Your people. Selah

On the third day of their imprisonment, Joseph spoke to them again.  “Look, I am a God-fearing man.  If you do as I say, you will live.  If you really are honest men, choose one of your brothers to remain in prison.  The rest of you may go home with grain for your starving families.  But you must bring your youngest brother back to me.  This will prove that you are telling the truth, and you will not die.”  The brothers agreed to Joseph’s terms.

Speaking among themselves, the weight of their burden of guilt was evident, when they said, “Clearly we are being punished because of what we did to Joseph, long ago.  We saw his anguish when he pleaded for his life, but we wouldn’t listen.  That’s why we’re in this trouble.”

Tears ran down Reuben’s face, as he asked, “Didn’t I tell you not to sin against the boy?  But you wouldn’t listen.  And now we have to answer for his blood!”

His brothers, who still didn’t know Joseph’s true identity, had no way of knowing that he understood every word that they had spoken, for he had been speaking to them through an interpreter.  Upon hearing his brothers’ words, he turned and walked away from them and began to weep.  The emotions, and the weight he had been carrying for more than twenty years, was simply too much to bear, as his brothers openly spoke of his betrayal.

So deep was their own fear and anguish, that the brothers took no notice when Joseph turned away from them.  They were all lost in the midst of a storm that had been brewing for more than twenty years.  When Joseph regained his composure, he spoke to them again, and chose Simeon from among them.  He ordered Simeon to be tied up before their eyes.

Then, Joseph ordered his servants to fill his brothers’ sacks with grain.  He also gave them secret instructions to return each brother’s payment at the top of his sack, and he gave them supplies for their journey home.  So, although ten brothers had started on the journey to Egypt, only nine returned home, and the weight they carried grew heavier with each step…

© 2019
Cheryl A. Showers

Not Forgotten…

In the time after the cupbearer’s release, Joseph ran the prison like a well-oiled machine.  He cared for the prisoners, the guards and even the accounting and record books.  Indeed, no other prison or business for that matter, ran so smoothly, for the Lord continued to be with Joseph and bless him.

While he toiled in prison, a full two years later, Pharaoh had two dreams one night, that deeply troubled him.  When day broke, Pharaoh arose, and immediately sent for all of Egypt’s magicians and wise men to seek an interpretation of his disturbing dreams.  However, not one of them was able to interpret the dreams’ meaning to him, which caused him even more anxiety.  “Is there no one in this entire land that can help me?” he cried out.

“Your majesty,” the chief cupbearer finally spoke up.  “Forgive me, for today, I am reminded of my failure.  Do you remember when you were angry with your officials, and arrested the chief baker and me, sire?”  At Pharaoh’s impatient nod, the cupbearer quickly continued.  “One night, while we were in prison, both the baker and I had dreams, which greatly disturbed us.  The next morning, a young Hebrew man, who was a servant of the captain of the guard, came to care for us, and asked why we were so downcast.  So we told him our dreams, and he interpreted each one of our dreams individually, for us.  What’s more, those dreams came to pass, just as he had prophesied.  I was restored to my office, and the baker was impaled.”

“This is true?”  Pharaoh asked.  At the cupbearer’s solemn nod, Pharaoh summoned Joseph to court.

Joseph, meanwhile, was in the midst of his morning prayers, before beginning his duties as the warden’s assistant. 

Psalm 13
Complete Jewish Bible

How long, Adonai?
Will You forget me forever?
How long will You hide Your face from me?
How long must I keep asking myself what to do,
with sorrow in my heart every day?
How long must my enemy dominate me?

Look, and answer me, Adonai my God!
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death.
Then my enemy would say, “I was able to beat him”;
and my adversaries would rejoice at my downfall.

But I trust in Your grace,
my heart rejoices as You bring me to safety.
I will sing to Adonai, because He gives me
even more than I need.

 

Then, as he finished his prayers, guards from the royal palace came and led him quickly out of the dungeon.  After Joseph shaved himself and changed his clothes, he was led into Pharaoh’s presence, where he respectfully knelt, his heart pounding frantically.  “O Adonai,” he silently prayed.  “Protect me and deliver me from my foes.  Give me wisdom, to know when to speak and when to be silent.  Adonai, let me speak Your words, and not my own.”

“Last night, I had two dreams,” Pharaoh told Joseph, “and there is no one here, who can interpret them, but I was told that you are an interpreter of dreams.  Is this true?”

“Pharaoh, I am not the interpreter of dreams.  El Shaddai is the giver and interpreter of dreams.  If you will share your dream with me, El Shaddai will give you an answer that will give you peace,” Joseph said gently.

Pharaoh's Dream 1

“Very well,”  Pharaoh responded.  “In my dream, I stood at the edge of the river, and I saw seven fat and sleek cows emerge, and they fed on the swamp grass.  After they came, seven more cows emerged from the river, but these cows were sickly and emaciated.  I’ve never seen such a sorry group of cows in all of Egypt!  Then, the scrawny, miserable cows ate up the seven fat cows, but even after they’d devoured them, you would never guess they’d had anything to eat at all.  For they were still as miserable and sorry looking as they were before they ate.

Pharaoh's Dream 2

“At this point, I awakened, but I quickly drifted off to sleep again, and I had another dream.  In this dream, I saw seven full ripe ears of grain growing out of a single stalk, and after that, I saw seven more ears of grain spring up, but they were thin and shriveled up by the east wind.  And then, right before my eyes, I saw the shriveled ears swallow up the seven ripe ears of grain!

“This morning, when I awakened, I summoned my magicians and wise men, and I shared these dreams with them, but not one of them could explain them to me.  Are you able to interpret these dreams?”  Pharaoh questioned Joseph.  

Joseph listened intently to what Pharaoh shared, while also listening to what the Spirit of the Lord spoke to his heart.  Now, he felt the peace that only comes from ‘Elyon, as he drew in his breath and began to speak.  “Pharaoh’s dreams are the same.  God has told Pharaoh what He is about to do.”

Joseph spoke with the authority that only comes from God, and Pharaoh and his counselors all leaned forward, to hear every word he uttered.  “The seven healthy cows and the seven good ears of grain represent seven years.  Likewise, the seven scrawny cows and the seven blighted ears of grain also represent seven years of famine.  This is what ‘Elyon, has shown Pharaoh He is about to do.

“There will be seven years of abundance throughout the entire land of Egypt, but afterwards, there will be seven years of famine.  Indeed, the famine will be so dreadful, that Egypt will forget all of the abundance from the previous seven years.  Indeed, the famine will consume the land, and it will be truly disastrous.

“Do you wonder why this dream was doubled for Pharaoh?  It is because the matter has already been decreed by Elohim, and it will happen according to His word very soon.

“Therefore, Pharaoh should look for a wise and discreet man to put in charge of the land of Egypt, so that he can appoint supervisors over the land to receive a twenty percent tax on all of the produce of the land of Egypt during the seven years of abundance.  All of the food produced during the coming seven years of abundance should be gathered.  Some should be used for food in the cities, and the rest should be stored.  This will be the land’s food supply for the seven years of famine that will follow the seven years of abundance, so that the people do not perish as a result of the famine.”

Joseph’s demeanor and his wise suggestions impressed Pharaoh and all of his officials.  Pharaoh looked at his officials and asked, “Can we find anyone else like him? The Spirit of God lives in him!”  His officials agreed wholeheartedly with Pharaoh, so Pharaoh released Joseph from his position as a slave and prisoner that day, and placed him in command of all of Egypt, second only to Pharaoh himself.

“There is no one as wise and discerning as you,” Pharaoh told Joseph.  “Therefore, today, I am placing you in charge of my entire household.  You will rule over all my people, and they will obey what you say.  Only when I rule from my throne, will I be greater than you.”  Then, removing his signet ring from his finger, Pharaoh placed it on Joseph’s finger and continued, “This day, you will not only rule my household, but the whole land of Egypt.  I, Pharaoh, decree that without your approval no one is to raise his hand or his foot in all the land of Egypt.  Furthermore, your name shall henceforth be Zaphenath-paneah.” 

Pharaoh then called his servants to bring him fine linen clothing, and a gold chain, which he placed around Joseph’s neck.  Pharaoh also gave Joseph a wife, whose name was Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera, the priest of On.  So, at the age of thirty years, Joseph took charge of the entire land of Egypt, serving in the court of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt.

Afterward, Pharaoh sent some of his servants to the royal stables, to bring his second best chariot to Joseph, telling him ride the chariot throughout the land of Egypt.  As Joseph rode the chariot through the streets of Egypt, his servants ran before him, shouting, “Bow down!” to the citizens of the land.  Thus, when Joseph left Pharaoh’s presence, he inspected the entire land of Egypt.  

In the midst of all that was happening around him, Joseph found time to give thanks to Almighty God.  For though others may have forgotten him, the Lord had not forgotten him.

Beloved reader, do you think the Lord has forgotten you?  Do you feel as though you are alone in your circumstances?  Fear not, for though a woman may forget her child, God will not forget you.  If you continually seek Him, you will find Him.  He has a plan for you, His beloved child, even in the midst of the worst circumstances.  You are not forgotten.

Isaiah 49:14-15
New Living Translation

 

14 Yet Jerusalem says, “The Lord has deserted us;
    the Lord has forgotten us.”

15 “Never! Can a mother forget her nursing child?
    Can she feel no love for the child she has borne?
But even if that were possible,
    I would not forget you!”

© 2019
Cheryl A. Showers

Silver Bullet Prayer direction for current situation – written by my pastor‏

Image Credit: www.JerusalemShots.com
Image Credit:
http://www.JerusalemShots.com

Greetings Beloved Readers,

Forgive me, because it has been awhile since I’ve posted any letters from our sister in Israel. Unfortunately, due to my illness and my vacation, I’ve fallen way behind, and I will do my best to catch you up. 

Meanwhile, there is an urgent need for prayer that just came today, for the nation of Israel, and our beloved sister in Israel has sent us a letter from her pastor. Please read this entire letter and begin to pray as the letter directs. It is vital, both for our friend and her pastor, and for the nation of Israel, and for us as well. I truly believe that this is a mandate from the Lord, calling for us to pray for Israel, and He is showing us exactly how to pray for Israel in these last days.

May the Lord bless you, my beloved readers, as you join with me in fervent and urgent, but not panicked prayer. One more thing for you to know, our sister has asked that her name not be revealed, for obvious reasons, and I’ve done the same for her pastor, changing his name to Pastor, where it was written before. And now the letter from our sister’s pastor…
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Prayer Priority Alert

An American attack on Syria seems to be imminent.
An American attack on Syria seems to be imminent, and Arab leaders warn of terrible consequences to Israel, if Syria is attacked.

Arab leaders spew bellicose threats
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is quoted as saying: “The intervention of America will be a disaster for the region. The region is like a gunpowder store, and the future cannot be predicted.”^1

Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi warned that, “The basic repercussion would be a ball of fire that would burn not only Syria but the whole Middle East.”^1

In Israel
Thousands of Jews and Arabs line up at gas mask distribution to get their gas masks in preparation for a possible counter attack from Syria and Lebanon (Hezbollah).

Patriot anti-missile batteries in Haifa are put on alert, Netanyahu convenes security cabinet, and IDF announces major drill on Golan Heights (meaning the IDF is moving troops to the Golan if it is ordered to attack Syria, or if Syria launches a ground attack into the Golan.

But don’t get rattled or excited in the flesh – it won’t help

In 2006, at the beginning of the Lebanon War, as I began to pray earnestly for our security situation and the war (which was not going well at the time), the Lord stopped me in the middle of my praying. He warned me, “Pastor, do not pray your opinions to me, pray what I show you!”

I took that to mean that I should not pray out of excitement, or be animated by my emotions or flesh, or even let my prayers be guided mostly by the newspaper headlines. So often, we are unaware that we are praying that way. Rather, He wanted to lead me by His Spirit, that I might pray what was strategic to Him.

But Abraham stood yet before the LORD… Abraham drew near…


When the Lord came to Abraham and revealed to him that He was on His way to judge Sodom, Abraham’s response to the news, is instructive.

“And the LORD said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know. And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the LORD. And Abraham drew near…” Gen. 18:20-22

I take this to mean that Abraham turned His heart to God; he drew near to God rather than allow himself to let his emotions and flesh run wild with speculation and anticipation. Rather, he approached God with the full weight and impact of God’s Word and revelation of His nature and character. These were the only things guiding His intercession on behalf of Sodom! Who knows what prayers he would have prayed otherwise?

So, I urge you to actually turn to God, get a hold of His Word and ask Him to lead you in your prayers and intercession on behalf of Israel now.

You should remind yourself that God is sovereign, especially in all that pertains to Israel’s restoration and protection. How beautifully it is expressed in Isaiah 54.

“And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD; and great shall be the peace of thy children.14 In righteousness shall you be established: you shall be far from oppression; for you shall not fear: and from terror; for it shall not come near thee. 15 Behold, they shall surely gather together, but not by me: whosoever shall gather together against thee shall fall for thy sake. 16 Behold, I have created the smith that blows the coals in the fire, and that brings forth an instrument for his work; and I have created the waster to destroy. 17 No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment you will condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, says the LORD.” Is. 54:13-17

This is just one of hundreds of promises and declarations of God’s purpose in these days, to restore Israel to the Land and to Himself.

If you let His Word fill your heart, you will find faith arise in your heart –His Word is the fuel of our faith. His Word will inspire, lead, and guide your praying, and you will be taken into a realm of prayer and intercession that, you have not experienced before.

There, when you are in the Spirit, you will pray boldly and on subjects that you have not thought of, but that He wants you to pray. And when you pray His Will, you have the confidence that He will answer.

One example scripture that can inspire and guide your praying…

Zechariah 12:

Vs. 1 – The Lord’s sovereignty as creator and giver of life to man – this is how this chapter opens – get a hold of it and it will keep you from panic praying.

Vs. 2-3 A warning to all the nations who take Israel and Jerusalem a their problem to solve or resist.

Vs 4, 9 God personally battles the nations who come against Israel (whether diplomatically or militarily).

Vs.5-6 What God does for the governors and leaders of Israel.

Vs. 7-8 What God does for and within the nation of Israel

Vs. 10-13:1 Spiritual restoration of Israel is part of all of this conflict!

If you take time with this chapter, praying through it, giving God glory for His sovereignty, worshipping Him as creator, you will be enabled to have faith for the rest of it, and that makes all the difference.

We will continue to keep you posted as the situation unfolds. The papers are saying that the American attack could come as early as tomorrow, but nothing is for sure.

Blessings from Israel,

Pastor

To Tithe or Not To Tithe? (Part 5)

Greetings to My Beloved Readers,

Thank you so much for your patience in waiting for me to continue with the tithing series, To Tithe or Not To Tithe?, while I was temporarily out of commission. Thanks also to everyone who has been praying for me. I truly appreciate your prayers, more than you know…

Image Credit:http://usafreemoney.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/bag_of_money_wallpaper-other.jpg
Image Credit:http://usafreemoney.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/bag_of_money_wallpaper-other.jpg

And now, let’s continue with the fifth part of the series, To Tithe or Not To Tithe?. In the last few posts, we’ve compared Old Testament teachings about tithing to New Testament teaching. Now, let’s take a look at the early church to see if they tithed. Let’s also see where their money went, and how they got it…

“It is admitted universally that the payment of tithes or the tenth of possessions, for sacred purposes, did not find a place within the Christian Church during the age covered by the apostles and their immediate successors.”

Hastings Dictionary of the Apostolic Church ~
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“The Christian Church depended at first on voluntary gifts from its members.”

~ Encyclopedia Britannica ~
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44 And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. 45 They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. 

~ Acts 2:44-45 — NLT ~
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Image Credit: http://usafreemoney.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/bag_of_money_wallpaper-other.jpg
Image Credit:
http://usafreemoney.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/
bag_of_money_wallpaper-other.jpg

As you can see from the scripture above, and from the references above, the early church did not tithe. Instead, all of the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. Now take note of who shared… All of the believers shared… This included apostles, pastors, prophets, teachers and evangelists, as well as everyone else…

Next, let’s look at what they shared… And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. ~ Acts 2:44 — NLT ~ Wow. Just think about this. All of the believers shared everything they had. Obviously, there would have been no apostles, pastors, prophets, teachers and evangelists who were independently wealthy from the tithes and offerings they received from other believers, because they would have shared everything they had. There would have been no worshipers or Christian musicians who charged people to see them and listen to their music, because it all would have been for the glory of God.

Finally, it’s important for us to see who the early church shared everything they had with… They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. ~ Acts 2:45 — NLT ~ The early church shared with those in need. Money was not collected to pay ministers, but to give to those who were in need.

“The New Testament nowhere explicitly requires tithing to maintain a ministry or a place of assembly.”

Bruce M. Metzger and Michael D. Coogan,Oxford Companion to the Bible ~
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Image Credit: http://www.taringa.net/posts/imagenes/12339622/Catedrales-mas-asombrosas.html
Image Credit:
http://www.taringa.net/posts/imagenes/12339622/Catedrales-mas-asombrosas.html

As you can see, giving in the early church differs greatly from the church today, who gives first to pay for clergy, buildings, maintenance, heat and air conditioning for the buildings, utilities, administrative staff and administrative costs, and a portion goes to whatever denomination the church members belong to. It is only after this and so many other expenses are met, that the money taken in is shared with those in need, and then, it is often given very selectively, after those in need meet certain criteria. I can’t help but wonder what Jesus or the early apostles would think of the giving of tithes, which are given to support many pastors, evangelists and televangelists, who never even come in contact with those who are in need?

“The silence of the N.T. writers, particularly Paul, regarding the present validity of the tithe can be explained only on the ground that the dispensation of grace has no more place for a law of tithing than it has for a law on circumcision.”

Baker’s Dictionary, 1960 ~
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2 Corinthians 9 encourages the Corinthian believers, and us as well, to give to those who are in need. It is not a command to tithe to any church, but to give to those who are in need. It also encourages believers to determine in their hearts how much to give, and not to give reluctantly or in response to pressure. It does not command us to tithe our income…

In fact, after studying the subject, I’ve come to the conclusion that tithing is part of the Old Covenant, which was fulfilled by Jesus. Further, Old Testament tithing never included the people’s income – rather, they tithed their produce and their meat. Finally, we must remember that we are no longer under the law, therefore, if we tithe, we are placing ourselves under the law…

So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.

~ Galatians 5:1 — NLT ~

I’d like to share one final thought about tithing and giving. The Lord wants us to give to the poor, orphans and widows. He wants us to give with a cheerful heart, not under compulsion. What if we listened to Holy Spirit as the early church did, and gave accordingly, not limiting ourselves to a 10% tithe? The early church shared freely of everything they had. If they had  nothing to give, they felt no shame for it. The early church didn’t need a lot of money to share the gospel with their coworkers, families, friends and acquaintances. 

My friends, I urge you to prayerfully consider what you’ve read in this series, and give according to what Holy Spirit leads you to give. Don’t limit yourselves by tithing to a place of worship. Instead, let Holy Spirit lead you to give to those in need, according to the will of God. 

Related Articles:

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers

Share the Love – August and September

Dear Beloved Readers,

Beloved Ryder Elias WynneI’ve been out of town for the last couple of weeks, celebrating the birth of my 9th grandchild, a beautiful little boy named Ryder, and I haven’t been able to spend much time online, reading everyone’s posts as much as I like to do. Also, I’ve been struggling with some serious health issues, which makes it difficult to devote as much time to this as I would like to do. Therefore, with deep regret, I will not be posting Share the Love for the months of August and September.

I ask you all to keep me lifted in prayer, as I struggle with my health issues. Please know that your prayers are deeply appreciated.

I will still be posting as the Spirit leads, but you may have noticed that I haven’t posted as much as I normally do. Please know that I appreciate each one of you, and I pray the Lord blesses each of you abundantly in Jesus’ name.

Love,
Cheryl

Inside Israel – the approaching fast day of the 9th of Av – 11 July, 2013

jeratnight12

Greetings Beloved Readers,

Below, you will find the letter from our sister in Jerusalem. Please continue to lift her and her family up in  prayer. Except by faith, we have no way of knowing the impact our prayers have on those whom we pray for, this side of heaven, but wouldn’t it be awesome to discover their impact when we meet our heavenly Father one day? I pray that our prayers for our sister and the lives she touches leads to the salvation of many inside and outside of Israel, in Jesus’ name. Meanwhile, please enjoy this letter from our sister…
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“What are your thoughts occupied with as we heard toward tisha b’av next Monday night and Tuesday? I’ve been thinking about those little mistakes in communication that snowball into huge conflicts between people and communities. The children that grow up estranged because their parents were too busy to say “I love you.” The couples that stopped listening to each other because they didn’t understand each other. The religious sectors that split apart because they never took the opportunity to learn to value each other.

When we talk about Sinat Chinam (baseless hatred) in Israel, it’s important to realize that so many of our fights can be avoided if we take the time to maintain the relationships we have, and fill them with love and beauty instead of jealousy and suspicion. If we can do that as a nation, we’ll never have to fast on tisha b’av again.

Wishing you an easy and meaningful fast.” (from the local “janglo” weekly letter)

Greetings and Blessings, dear sisters and brothers, May The Lord be glorified, blessed, worshipped… may you be blessed!

 As ramadan is being observed by the world’s moslems, the tisha b’av fast appears on the horizon.  Tisha b’av (or 9th day of the month of Av on the Hebrew calendar) is observed this year beginning Monday night the 8th through Tues sundown the 9th.  Aside from the fast day of Yom Kippur, the day of atonement, this is the most solemn fast day of the Jewish year.  It is not observed as widely as Yom Kippur (which is commanded in scripture and actively observed by a large majority of Jews) but it IS observed by a surprising number of even secular or nominally observant Jews as well as the religious. 
 
As I have told you recently, I have been going through this interesting season of having my morning devotional reading ‘disrupted by The Lord’ after 37 years of following His initial directions to me, and have been having an intense time reading and re-reading the major prophets again and again (along with other portions in New Covenant and Psalms), so this day is making a very present and living impression on me this year, even more so then in past years. 
 
The 9th of Av commemorates the actual date of the destruction of BOTH the first and second temples and the punishment of the surviving remnant being sent out of the promised land of Israel into the diaspora.  You can read Jeremiah’s account of the date in the full chapter of Jeremiah chapter 52.  Verses 6 and 7 say:
 
By the fourth month, on the ninth day of the month, the famine had become so severe in the city that there was no food for the people of the land.
Then the city wall was broken through, and all the men of war fled and went out of the city at night by way of the gate between the two walls, which was by the king’s garden, even though the Chaldeans were near the city all around. And they went by way of the plain.
 
I have also shared many times over the past years lists of the unusual number of cataclysmic events that have taken place among the Jews through out modern history on this same date.  (If any of you wish, I will send it to you again separately)
 
People prepare for this time of often very real repentance and heart searching in many ways. The very religious men do not shave or cut their hair from Shavuot until tisha b’av, so there are many fully bearded men around right now.  There is also a general feeling of mourning in the air and I have heard many greetings which include a blessing for Jerusalem.  The teaching is that the judgment of God comes upon the people of Israel mainly for ‘brother hating brother’ (sinat chinam, in Hebrew).  Of course this is partly true according to the scriptures as hatred, or lack of love, produces selfishness, oppressing, cheating, theft and the like.  But the Scriptures make it clear that there are other reasons for the judgment of God upon the children of Israel: (I have been writing them down during these 6 months of reading through the major prophets).  Some of them are: Forsaking Him (our first love); serving other Gods (like material goods, the flesh, new age ideas…?), worshipping the work of our own hands, giving heed to seducing spirits (counterfeit works of a spirit other then HIS); defiling His land; rebellion; pride; not finding delight in The Word of The Lord; covetousness; dealing falsely; will not hear correction; following the dictates of our own heart; forsaking Shabat; following Eastern ways; arrogant tongue; despising this inherited land; lack of mercy…oh my, the list goes on (yes…I can provide you with the references if you ask).
 
At the top of this letter I copied a small paragraph that opened a local weekly email information site, and similar exhortations and encouragements are appearing all over in newspapers, in short messages on radio and tv and on billboards (at least in the Jerusalem area).  ‘Prepare your heart to seek The Lord…do not let Jerusalem go again…’ I was in the Old City on Tuesday and many large groups of youngsters, soldiers and older folks as well, were on ‘learning tours’, reviewing the history surrounding the destructions of the temples.  They stop to read scripture and pray. On tisha b’av itself, the book of Lamentations is prayed/read during the fast and many people stay up all night weeping and even dressing in sackcloth and ashes.  We can scoff at what is ‘religious show’, but I, for one, know that God hears hungry hearts and my prayer is that this will NOT be a religious tradition, but that there will be breakthroughs in hearts; that The Holy Spirit will convict, and draw the hungry to Yeshua, Whom He is well able to reveal!  AND… that He will indeed, CREATE hunger in the hearts of those who may be crying out of tradition only. He is able. 
 
I have not been well, so will close and go to bed now.  What a season we live in, eh?  His ways are so above our ways and His thoughts so above our…and I am thankful for that!  I send you much love.  God bless you and keep you and make HIS FACE to shine upon you…and give you (HIS) Shalom.
Lovingly, your sis
 
ani b’derek

Inside Israel – Of things old and new – AND FAMILY NEWS – 7 July 2013

Image Credit: Jerusalem Shots
Image Credit:
Jerusalem Shots

Greetings Beloved Readers,

I know that I usually try to post letters from our sister in Israel on Saturdays, however, I didn’t get this one until today, therefore, I am posting it a day later than usual. As always, I encourage you to pray for Israel and our sister who resides there while you read this letter, remembering that Jesus loved Jerusalem so much that He wept over her. And now, without further ado, here is the letter from our sister in Jerusalem…
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Shalom, dear Brothers and Sisters,

 
May He be glorified and blessed, and may you be blessed.  Although I write that in almost every letter, I never write it lightly…I pray it!
 
Summer activity seems to overtake many of us suddenly and I know that some of you will not find time to read this.  There is some personal news at the end of the letter though, particularly for those of you who know us.  I am so glad that The Lord is the same, yesterday, today and forever and that HE isn’t suddenly ‘caught up’ in summer activity…OR in problems or illness for that matter.  That’s so comforting! 
 
As I went from the shuk to prayer meeting yesterday morning before going to work, my eyes suddenly ‘flashed back’ to earlier ‘first impressions’ and I was able to observe with ‘new eyes’ again and some of the wonders of life here that I saw at the beginning of this part of my path. Perhaps it is because we are about to celebrate our 19th year since making aliyah (immigrating).  We became Israeli citizens on the 18th of July, but we left Alaska on 4th of July (the tickets were cheaper then as people tend not to fly on that day) which was sort of symbolic I guess.  We were totally clueless as to the new life that lay ahead.  I had never been here before, and my husband had come once on a short ‘tourist trip’. We didn’t know aleph from bet, (the Hebrew alpha bet) had no idea where we would live or what we would do.  The map that I had looked at was the map in the back of my Bible (yes…before computers!) We literally sold and gave away everything that we owned, burned all of our bridges, and at the not-so-young age of 48+ left all that we knew for what we didn’t know because we believed (correctly thank God!) that it was HIM Who was telling us to do this.  We were slightly acquainted with ONE person here and she found us temporary board in a room of someone’s apartment.  That is how our walk here began.  Shell shock!
 
So, 19 years later, my routines have become somewhat set, and it was a blessing to suddenly see again as if it were my first time.  Friday morning, it is my ‘habit’ to go to Intercessors for Israel 6:30am prayer meetings for a half hour before going on to work. This week, memories flooded me. I remembered my ‘wonder’ at the buses, where the radio blared and the people talked and sang and ate. Since I take the 6am bus on Fridays I had been deeply moved by the fact that the state run radio stations began  (they go off at midnight and on at 6am) with the words of ‘the smah’…the prayer most important in Judaism…the words from Deut 6:4-9
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
These words are to Judaism what The Lord’s prayer or sometimes the 23rd Psalm are to Christianity, so it would be as if your radio stations would begin each day with those Words in the morning reminding the country Who we look to first above all.  It blessed me to listen and to pray as the sunrise was casting its first rays above the mountains round about Jerusalem.  Sadly, about the time that the train started service, the broadcasting system put an end to this practice that had been in place since we first got radio here.  None the less, the assortment on the 6am bus is almost always the same, so we greet one another as one reads the newspaper and another the book of Psalms and a third eats perhaps a yogurt or cucumber, tomato and pita…typical Israeli breakfasts on the run.  On Friday I get off at the shuk to buy a challa (shabat bread) and some fruit and vegetables as everything in the city will close before sundown until after the shabat following sundown on Saturday.  At 6am very few stands are open, but there are enough for me to get what I need and then run down Jaffa Road to prayer meeting.  As I leave the shuk I watch the Friday morning ritual of the street sweepers.  Do all cities still have street sweepers?  Ours take their job very seriously and really do it well.  I am always impressed by them as it is not what you would call the most desirable job and yet I never sense these people feeling sorry for themselves or angry or see them slacking at work.  I pass the area from which they are ‘sent out’ with broom and equipment and enjoy listening to the ‘pep talk’ that they receive from their ‘commander’ who reminds them that they are cleaning the streets of Jerusalem and that they should do it proudly. They run off slapping each other on the back and ready to begin.  Why does this catch my eye? As one who is ‘always cleaning house again and again and again’…I sometimes loose both my joy and energy in the midst of the task.  My task is so small compared with what faces these sweepers who work in the shuk; it is non stop mess and garbage and they keep at it with an energy, encouraging one another, that really speaks to me.  If they can do this monotonous job day after day, it challenges me to do mine for Yeshua with joy and for His glory. It is their level of obvious contentment that teaches me in this day ahead of me…it challenges me to plumb the depths of the command that The Lord gives me to ‘be content in ALL things’ as I read in so many verses (here are two but then there is Heb 13:5,  and so very many others.  You know them I’m sure:
Phil 4:11 Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
1 Tim 6:6 Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certainwe can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.
So…as I walk past the ‘challenge of the street sweepers’ I come again to the ifi morning prayer meeting as I have since this particular Fri. morning group began so many years back, to pray in small groups for particular situations in our country and surrounding ones.  All too soon it was off to work for me, but my ‘fresh look’ at the street sweepers kept my eyes awake.  I remembered my amusement at the lack of Western ‘political correctness’ and how everyone talks to strangers all of the time.  That brought to my memory the reminder of the becoming aware that in this land of the Book and the Law…the laws are NOT ‘rigid’ as they are in the West…they are not black and white…they…hum…’float’ (for want of a better word.  It took me awhile to understand this. Here is an example:  In America if I took a letter to the post office, they would weigh it and tell me EXACTLY how much postage it needed.  If they were wrong, I would get the letter back marked ‘insufficient postage’.  Here, oh yes, there are charts, charges and regulations…but I might well walk up to the post office lady and she might say ‘9 shekels’ and I might say ‘Oh no!  I only have 7.5’ and…depending upon who she is, she might say ‘zeh lo mishonay!’ (It doesn’t matter) and either put 7.5 postage on it or take the shekel and a half our of her change purse. We don’t HAVE ‘insufficient postage’ stamps here.  Period.  Then there is ‘making a scene’. Again, a man approaches a window at the post office (we do LOTS of transactions at our post offices: they are banks, we pay bills there, we submit forms there and various other tasks) and the teller says ‘You are missing a signature’.  You can expect excitement!  ‘WHAT?!? They TOLD me that THIS is what I need!!  I CAN’T POSSIBLY come back!  My kid needs this for school TODAY!’  Sometimes fights ensue…but SOMETIMES we hear things like ‘You can’t? He really needs it today?  Ok.’ Stamp stamp stamp – and the customer walks away smiling. You can REASON with the clerks.  You can also cry.  I found that out the hard way.  As a new immigrant I cried A LOT! Suddenly I became ‘they made somebody’s mother cry!’ and others in line would rush up with water or a chair – it must have been quite humorous to watch from afar (although it never felt funny at the time).  So what is this: manipulation?  Mercy? Sloppiness? Protexia?  Probably a combination of all three to a different degree, but it was culturally different to me.  It was no longer black and white, but there were many ‘grey’ areas and this was helpful to learn as I realize that I will never fully understand the ‘ways of the system’. (although I have been told that NO ONE really understands it)

 
It is fun to remember some of these early impressions and lessons, particularly as planes fly over.  You all know that the situation here increases in intensity daily.  The sudden eruption of Egypt again – our neighbor to the south- has led to great instability in the vast Sinai region and once again de-stabilized our border.  To the North of us the Syrians continue to kill one another and our hospitals receive wounded for their border area nearly daily as word of mouth travels and families in the south bring their loved ones to the border asking for mercy.  Again our ‘peace’ process is gaining momentum so there are (again) bomb scares daily as that seems to be the ‘natural fruit’ of the ‘peace process’ (and the foreign governments do not seem to see the irony of this).  In other words, life continues as usual.
 
PERSONAL NEWS
 
I was deeply blessed by a dear sister last weekend.  She works for a volunteer organization and they are blessed with an apartment right on the beach in Netanya that they allow their workers to use periodically for a time of retreat and refreshing.  She had reserved it for last weekend and INVITED ME AND ANOTHER SISTER TO JOIN HER!  Oh what joy to have a change of scenery and intensity and to share the sweetest of fellowship in Him!  I have rarely received such a cup of cold water and I am happy to report that I have been so graciously refreshed and doused in Love!  I had to come home early as I have had an infection and am allergic to just about all antibiotics, so needed to receive 5 days of slowly administered antibiotic by infusion, spending 2 hours daily in a nurses station after work.  I was well prepared with His GRACE to go through this, for which I am so thankful. 
 
Some have been asking how things are going with our Granddaughter.  She is scheduled to arrive on 29th July and we are SOOOO excited!  She is a tender 6 years old and has had her suitcase packed for 6 weeks already!  I guess she takes after her ‘Savtalai’ (Grandmother) as I have been getting stuff for her ‘room’ for atleast that long! Thank you so much for your prayers!
 
But for those of you who know us…our situation…have followed our family, some of you for more then 35 years(!) we do have news;  Our youngest daughter, who was married just a year ago, is expecting their first child!  She was told (as I was) that she could never have children and they are THRILLED!  Ofcourse, she has had MANY physical and emotional problems and they are still NOT (yet) walking with The Lord… they are poorer then church mice BUT happier then larks…and, yes, I ask for prayer for them!  They live in Minnesota USA and the Baby is due in early Jan.  No…they have no car…no insurance…she is high risk pregnancy and is NOT feeling well…BUT…She IS a child of promise and HE IS ON THE THRONE! So I will BLESS them and pray and I wanted to share our joy with you! 
 
There are some of you whom I SHOULD have told personally and I do beg your forgiveness as my computer is acting up and trying to write has been a challenge. 
 
MAY GOD BLESS YOU AND KEEP YOU AND MAKE HIS FACE TO SHINE UPON YOU FOR HIS GLORY!  May we be discerning and sensitive to His direction for this most narrow of seasons in which we life. 
Lovingly, your sis
ani b’derek