Slow Down

One last report from Israel. This one is about what the Lord taught me while I was here.
What you see pictured are the actual steps Jesus walked upon when He entered the Temple courts through the Hulda gates on the southern end of the Temple Mount. I can say I walked where Jesus’ feet actually touched!
These steps are cut out of the stones. And, if you notice, this stairway alternates between a narrow a step and a wider one. The purpose was to slow people down as they came into the Temple. This slower pace was to enable them to prepare their hearts and minds to worship the King of Kings – The God of the universe.
This is what the Lord was showing me. “Chris, slow down.” He spoke clearly through someone who said, “I get too busy that I can’t hear from Jesus.” This resonated so much with me. Actually, before I left for Israel, I told my wife that I was having a hard time slowing down. I was exhaling a lot, like I was out of breath.
Are you just like me, too busy to hear from Jesus? You can’t love Him without doing it! He said those who love Me will listen and follow/obey Me. Let’s pray for each other to slow down the pace of our lives – the stuff that occupies our minds – to hear from our God and King so we can better worship Him – become more like Him.

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Into His Presence

This is modern Shiloh with ancient Shiloh in the foreground. In Scripture, Shiloh was the place where the Tabernacle, God’s dwelling, rested after the Israelites entered the land under Joshua.
It was to here that God commanded every Jewish male to come three times a year: Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles. Each visit, including traveling both ways, could take up to a month depending on where one lived. Thus, three months out of the year, every Jewish male was to be away from their homes and businesses.
Who protected them while they were gone? As they exercised their faith in God by choosing to be here with Him, He would protect the homes and businesses. Every time they came, they showed how much they loved their God and wanted to be in His presence,
Fast forward to today. When the Jewish people were kicked out of Israel by the Romans (who changed it’s name to Palestine) in 135 AD and started returning home in the late 1800’s, would they exercise their faith in God’s word and resettle Shiloh?
This piece of real estate is found in Samaria or what the world calls the West Bank. This city (on the hill to the left and the foreground) is located next to an Arab city (in the background to the right). It’s not a safe and secure place to raise a family and have a business. Yet, would they exercise their faith in the Word of God, which incurs risks, and return to Shiloh?
Remember, the ruins prove this land belonged to Israel. This is an indisputable fact. Yet, there were risks of world opinion against them. There was the hatred of those living next door who’d rather see them dead than living on land they want for their state. These Jewish men and women took the risk and returned to Shiloh.
Believers, we live in enemy territory where we all have strongholds in our lives put there by our enemy, our sin nature and our environment (2 Cor. 10:3-5). The world run by the evil one wants us to leave them alone. Our neighbors would love for us not to change, as it gives them a reason to stay the same.
The question for us then is, “How far will we go to be in God’s presence, where peace, joy, security and love reign?” God says He loves to reward faith, but faith is not faith unless it’s put into action. We say we love Jesus. If so, we will exercise the truths He gives us. Know this, others will not like it. So how bad do you want to experience the life Jesus came to give you?

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Remember the Price Paid

I haven’t met an American yet who was alive on 9-11 who doesn’t remember where they were and what they were doing when they heard and saw what happened in NY, DC and Pennsylvania.
Beit Lid junction is Israel’s 9-11. Any Israeli who was alive on that day will remember exactly where they were and what they were doing as well. Before walls were built around certain cities, three Islamic Jihadists left their homes set on blowing themselves up. Two of them did just that at this junction, the intersection of two major roads leading to four parts of the country.
At this junction, Israeli soldiers and civilians gather to return to their bases and jobs after a good weekend at home. Twenty-two Israelis died at this location: twenty-one soldiers and one civilian, twenty-one Jews and one Druze, twenty men and two women. All paid the price for freedom with their lives; thus, all on this monument’s ladder pictured here look the same.
This monument is a reminder of the price that was paid so others could experience freedom. As we remember the past price paid for freedom, it gives us the opportunity to move forward in the present.
It is the same for believers in Jesus. We must remember that Jesus paid the ultimate price for our freedom – His life. It is through His blood that we have been, are becoming and will be made perfect.
Remember this truth the next time you want to waste time beating yourself up when you sin or take your drug of choice. Jesus already paid the price for your freedom to live in the presence of joy, His, in the present.
His blood brought you forgiveness. His life gives you day to day freedom from those drugs of choice. So instead of beating yourself up, praise Him for what He has already done for you and thank Him for allowing you to be at peace with Him right now.
S“E”t Free Nowww

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Experience the Joy!

This is a picture of Korsi or as Mark 5 records, the region of the Gerasenes. You can see in the middle of the hill a mound of dirt where archeologists have discovered a number of tombs. This fact, along with the hill and its location on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee gives amble evidence to this place being where Jesus drove out a legion of demons from two men.
For the first time in years, they heard only one voice – their own and now God’s. What peace they must have felt. What joy they were now experiencing all because a Jewish rabbi came their way.
Yet, if Jesus’ men had anything to say about it, these guys would have stayed in bondage for much much longer. We know this for at least three reasons. One, all twelve men got in the boat with Jesus to travel across the lake, but only Jesus got out. Why? Reason number two, their religious traditions. This was Gentile territory where pigs were being raised. They were afraid of being ostracized by their fellow Jews for even being in this territory, let alone talking with anyone living there. (See Acts 11:1-3 after Peter met with a Roman soldier.) But there is one more reason why they remained in the boat. They were cleaning their clothes! They were in the storm of their life while sailing across the lake. They thought they were going to die. Jesus, however, woke up, calmed the storm and told them to stop being afraid. They were so focused on their circumstances that they missed the opportunity to see Jesus change someone’s life forever.
Will we let life’s storms or what others might think of us keep us from the joys of seeing others set free? What a kick Jesus must have felt to see these men finally released from the grips of the enemy. Want to experience this for yourself? Love Jesus enough to listen and follow Him, even into areas where others might get on your case for it. Love Jesus enough to share Jesus with those around you by not missing the opportunities presented to you by being so focused on yourself.
Let Jesus change your life; and, be ready to share how He did it with those around you.

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Learn and Become

“The LORD will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins; He will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the LORD, joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing.”
Isaiah 51:3

This is a picture of the Wilderness of Paran in the Israeli Negev or desert. It’s as barren as you can imagine; yet flowers bloom, trees grow and wild animals roam its vast wastelands. This area holds great meaning both sad and wonderful for the Jewish people.
In the desert, they saw their God work mighty miracles on their behalf. They saw gushing rivers flow from rocks, dew from heaven turned into bread, meat literally fall from the sky and earthquakes swallow those who chose to challenge God.
The Israeli leadership forgot all these wonderful lessons. Moses sent 12 men from this spot to tour the land God had already given them. These same men saw God humble the greatest nation on the planet at that time, Egypt. Yet, that no one or nothing can stand in the way of God’s Word and plan when they returned from their tour. They wanted to return to slavery in Egypt over freedom in the Land because they feared the giants/obstacles in they saw.
If they had remembered their lessons, God would have given them further victory here in the desert, which would have brought joy, gladness, thanksgiving and singing. If they would have acted on the truths worked out before their very eyes, they would have settled in and seen this vast wasteland turn into the garden of Eden. (Modern Israel has done exactly that by the way.) Mediate on yesterday’s victories to see them occur again and again today and tomorrow. Those who forget will no go toward and become like Jesus, the one who brings joy, gladness and sounds of praise.

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