On Things Above

Recently someone mentioned that they thought we painted too rosy a picture of life in Israel; that we make it seem like ministering in Israel is so easy.

It’s not easy. Ministering anywhere in the world is difficult. Jesus warned us that we would have tribulation. There are heartbreaking situations, especially when someone you are pouring into, dies without giving their life to the Lord; without the assurance that they are now with Jesus. When you see so many poverty stricken people, especially the elderly. When sickness and hopelessness are rampant. When rumors of war and terrorism are a daily threat. It can be very overwhelming.

At the same time, whenever there are difficult situations, you can see the hand of God moving. You see lives change, even in some instances where the situation has not changed, but the person’s life and outlook has changed. Psalm 30:11-12 says, “You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy that I might sing praises to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever”!

These are the things the Lord wants us to focus on. He told us in John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

One of my fondest memories is the complete joy of an Orthodox woman after giving her life to the Lord. The Israelis love American movies. It doesn’t matter if it’s a Christian movie, they still want to watch. Periodically we have Movie Night Outreaches. We show a movie, have popcorn, candy, and soft drinks. It’s a good time to fellowship and gives us time to share about the Lord.

One night, after the movie had started, an Orthodox lady and her 15-year-old daughter came into our building. They had heard the movie playing as they were walking past, and came to see what we were doing. They watched the movie for a while, and then came into the kitchen and just seemed to want to talk.

 We introduced them to two women that attended our congregation and were both at the movie night. These two women had been raised Orthodox, had been married to Orthodox men, and raised their children to be Orthodox. Both women, when they were in their 50s, had given their lives to the Lord. The women were now in their 70s.

The Orthodox woman and her teenage daughter started sharing with us. Their rabbi was one of the strictest in Israel. He had recently been interviewed on the news stating that you could no longer pick your nose on Shabbat. It was considered work because you might accidentally pull out a nose hair. For those that aren’t Orthodox, it is easy to think how ridiculous this is. At the same time you’ve got to think of the heart of these people. They are so desperate to do the right thing and are fearful of making God angry by doing the wrong thing. They are under such bondage.

As they started sharing different situations that happened, the hopelessness of the lady, and the anger of the teenager, started pouring out. For example the previous Shabbat, they had gone to their rabbis house for a Shabbat dinner. This lady had gotten in trouble because her nylon was black, but a lighter material, so her ankles showed too much. This was in August when it’s hot and humid. She said her husband was embarrassed, her daughter was angry, and she was humiliated.

Gradually, the two women that I had introduced this lady to, started sharing about their life. They shared of how, when they were in their 50s, they heard of the love of Jesus, their Messiah. This Orthodox woman gave her life to the Lord that night. I wish I could describe the difference in this woman’s countenance. She literally was glowing with the love, joy, and peace of the Lord. She kept saying, “I’ve never felt so much peace in my life. I feel like a huge weight is off of me. I feel so much freedom in Jesus that I just want to shout and jump with joy”.

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The world seems to be getting darker, and situations seem more and more hopeless. As there are many school shootings in America, as there are serious skirmishes and threats of war along the Israeli, Lebanon & Syrian borders. As there are terror attacks in Europe. The Lord warned us that in end times things would get very dark. Matthew 24:5 says, “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end”. The Lord desires us to keep our eyes on Him. He loves each of us so much, and desires to take care of us.

Only through Him, the Jewish Messiah, can we have true peace and true assurance that when we die we will be in heaven with Him. In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through Me”.

Jesus also said, “When all these things begin to happen, stand and look up, for your salvation is near!” Luke 21:28. As believers in Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus the Messiah ) what an opportune time that we live in. People are scared, they desperately want hope and peace in their lives. We, as Christians, have that hope and peace in the Lord Jesus Christ. What a privilege to be able to share with others the wondrous works that the Lord is doing.

May God bless you and keep your hearts and minds focused on things above.

In His unfailing care,
Stephen & Patricia Apple
and the Shepherd’s Light team

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