I had the opportunity last month to speak at two retreats. The socio-economic back grounds of the two groups were very different. One group of women was definitely suburban and pretty homogenous. The other group of women was an odd mixture of privileged women, who were well educated, and underprivileged women who had grown up fast and hard.
Speaking to groups has not been something I chose to do, but it is something God has called me to do. Not in my comfort zone behind my computer keyboard, or chatting with a friend over coffee, but in front of people. Why? Because he wants me to talk about Jesus. As I stood nervously before the second group, I thought about how I looked to the younger women. Foreign. Churchy.
I noticed one of the women I’d been introduced to earlier sitting in front of me. She was noticeably pregnant and had broken shackles and the words “Set Free” tattooed on the back of her hands. I recalled how I’d made a quick judgment about her when I first saw her, based on her appearance, until I overheard her tell another woman, “I was a radical sinner and I want to be a radical saint!”
I was ashamed at that moment, because I was in the presence of a sister who loved her Savior so much that she had tattooed what He’d done for her for all the world to see-right out there in front- on her hands.
Encouraged by her boldness, I began speaking about the same Savior. I didn’t have a tattoo to show, so I showed them what Jesus has done in my heart, and what He’s still doing. I want to be a radical saint, just like the sister who has “set free” tattooed on her hands!
Most of us have had the experience of anticipating something: a holiday, graduation, a wedding, the birth of a child, a vacation. Doesn’t the anticipation of an event make it more special when we finally see it happen?
One of my favorite people in the Gospels is Simeon. Luke introduces us to him in chapter two of his Gospel: “this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.”
Simeon is prompted by the Holy Spirit to go to the Temple just when Mary and Joseph bring Jesus there. This faithful man holds the Savior and blesses God for letting him see God’s salvation. I can only imagine the incredible moment when Simeon held the object of his faith and longing!
Simeon was looking for God’s promise to be fulfilled because he believed the prophecies about the Messiah. His coming was foretold in the Old Testament in many places, but Daniel’s prophecy gives the reader the exact time frame that Messiah would enter Jerusalem.* Did Simeon know it? I believe so, because he was “looking for the consolation of Israel.”
Jesus rebuked the people of Israel for not studying Scripture themselves and comparing what the prophets foretold to the things they had seen in Him.
“When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, ‘A shower is coming,’ and so it turns out. And when you see a south wind blowing, you say, ‘It will be a hot day,’ and it turns out that way. You hypocrites! You know how to analyze the appearance of the earth and the sky, but why do you not analyze this present time?” Luke 12: 54-56
Every believer in Jesus Christ is encouraged to anticipate His return in Scripture. In fact, we’re promised a special crown for doing so! Check out 2 Timothy 4:8:
“In the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved his appearing.”
Do we know the day He will call the church to Heaven? No, but we can recognize the season! Do you want to know what they are? Jesus discusses them in the Olivet Discourse (Mark 13; Matthew 24; Luke 21).
I want to be like Simeon! I look at every promise in Scripture, even the incredible promise in 1 Thessalonians 4, and know that our God is able and faithful to keep every promise He has made to us. One day, I know, our faith will be our sight!
* This is found in Daniel 9:24-27. Probably one of the easiest explanations I’ve seen of this is found online www.carm.org/does-daniel-9-24-27-predict-Jesus
“You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again you did not know”- William Wilberforce.
I saw the picture above and the quote by Wilberforce on a friend’s FaceBook page. As I scrolled through the feed of pictures of summer fun and first-time college students posing in their dorms, I was struck by the dichotomy of life in the United States and life in Iraq and Syria for Christians. Here we dwell in relative safety. We can worship together, unafraid even in public, while in Iraq they can’t even live at peace in their homes. Christians are fleeing from the radical Islamic men that make up ISIS: women are being raped, sold as second wives or sex slaves. People are being killed, and children have been beheaded. Our realities are so different!
What can we do? First of all, we can pray. When one part of the Body of Christ is hurting, we all hurt. Will you take a few minutes to intercede for them? Pray also for the Yazidis, who are being targeted by ISIS and for the men who make up ISIS. Remember that the real enemy is not flesh and blood, but demonic forces of evil.
We can make others aware of what is going on. Too many of us live without thinking that much of the rest of the world experiences a radically different experience in every day life. So, help shine the light of truth by sharing with others what is going on in Iraq and Syria.
Although there is the reality of the threat of terrorism here in the US, we are not facing the very real persecution and genocide that our brothers and sisters in Iraq and Syria are facing. Praying, informing others of this tragic situation are two things we can do to help them.
“Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.” Hebrews 13:3
Revelation is the only book in the Bible that promises a special blessing to those who will take the time to study and heed its teaching. After finishing my second book, ONE WILL BE LEFT, I had some extra time and began writing a new Bible study on Revelation, “Revelation:It’s All About Jesus!” I wanted to create a study on this difficult topic that is more approachable for busy women.
“Revelation:It’s All About Jesus” is in the third week of its trial run. I’m grateful to have a small group of women who are going through the study with me and giving me feedback as we go through this amazing book together. Hopefully, it will be available for publication about the same time as ONE WILL BE LEFT!