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The Occupation!

Here in Israel, we hear shouts from both the left-wing opposition and the Arab front saying “enough of the occupation”.  They don’t want to be invaded or controlled by another power.

But let us reflect for a moment on that concept of occupation in the spiritual realm. What can we say?

In Hebrew this word can used different ways and can mean both to capture, or to occupy.

As I ponder the scriptures,  and meditate on my daily reading of the Bible, I have to ask  questions.

To capture is one thing.  We have all had mountaintop experiences at some point or other. We can all remember a time when God captured our hearts on this or that occasion.

To occupy is another.  Does the Spirit of God invade our every thought, our every reflection, every space in our souls? Has He continued to occupy our hearts to this very moment on our journey with the same passion, with that same intensity, or to the same degree to this very day?

Expand the mansions of my soul this day the Lord, take complete control, invade and occupy every space, I pray.  Wash out every thought that does not belong there, everything that has contaminated and defiled my thoughts, taking me away from You, the central focus of my life.

Amen!

Dedicated to my mother: Where Do We Go From Here?

Do you ever wonder where you are going, or ponder what’s up ahead?

Each and every one of us has direction and specific assignments from the Lord throughout our lives, even though the seasons may change.

Ramon and I have done many different things and have had numerous adventures throughout our almost 35 years together, but what now? We were both laughing the other day about being ready for a new adventure! What will it be?

I had recently been reflecting a verse, which spells out at least one mandate or challenge, when I heard a message preached to the effect that unless each member of the younger generation has a real revelation of God all they can or will be able to enter into is a rote legalistic “religious” relationship with God.

”Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all who are to come”. Ps. 71:18

This passage encourages us to declare His power. The word in Hebrew for power, Zroah is literally arm, shoulder, and therefore strength. At Passover time, this word is much remembered. We say over and over in the Haggadah that the Lord led Israel out of Egypt with his outstretched Zroah or arm. So awesome was that event that the whole world is aware of the Exodus…God’s great arm was revealed!

Hebrew poetry frequently uses parallel structure-two ways of saying things- (start looking for double construction as you read the Psalms, but that is an aside!)

In the passage above, the parallel word used here and translated might is G’vurah. It can mean force, mastery, power, valor and strength and is used of warriors, the horse, and even the crocodile in Job 41:4.

It is derived from the Hebrew root, “GVR” pronounced Gever, the word used for a man.

As we know, there is nothing like the strength of a man. When there is something heavy or a tight jar lid, I ask my G’vr, Ramon to help me.

Great strength is pictured in Judges 5:31 which says, “…those that love the Lord may go forth like the sun in its strength”. Here in the Middle East, we know what that is like, especially in summer, and because of the intensity of the unrelenting sun beating down we try to avoid going out during the middle of the day. As a matter of fact, I am escaping that intensity as I write since we are in the middle of an unprecedented heat wave. So the strength of God can be likened to the burning intense heat of the summer sun!

For yet another interpretation of strength, in the New Testament Greek the word used for Power is Dunamis, like our word for dynamite! In Mt. 22:29, Yeshua rebukes the Sadducees saying they do not understand the Scriptures, (which tell of His mighty deeds), nor the Power or Dynamite of God!

So we have, at least as part of our calling, to declare to the next generation who He is, His mighty Arm by which He can create something out of nothing or execute a purpose, and His Strength, which nothing can stop. He touches the hills and they smoke, Ps 104:37 He does that which He pleases and that which brings delight to His heart. Psalm 135:5,6.

One question we have to ask ourselves is, “Do we know enough of a revelation to pass it on?”

If I look back at my life I can reflect on so many places and times that the Lord has intervened, blessed, and changed circumstances. Basically, He has done so many mighty things we could write blogs and blogs on it!

This will be written for the generation to come, that a people yet to be created may praise the LORD. Ps 102:18

Even if we have no serious or powerful contact with the younger generation, we can pray for it with faith that the Lord will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and children to the fathers, Malachi 4:6. So many young people come from broken homes or are far from grandparents.

Naturally, the ultimate restoration between generations comes with faith in Messiah.

We can pray with confidence for the mandate of Joel 2:28 which says, “It will come about after this that I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and daughters will prophesy, Your old men will dream dreams, Your young men will see visions. Even on the male and female servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.…

We are not so far from “those days” judging by world events, (you can read about it in Ramon’s blogs and books), so we can also expect this amazing pouring out on all of us, reconciling the old and young with the “Dunamis” of the Anointing of the Holy Spirit that will forever join the generations.

A Walled Garden

Song of Solomon 4:12-15

A picture that I saw in my mind’s eye during a worship time at our congregation has stayed with me now for days. I was at the entrance to an enclosure that was very green and garden like. I could not identify the kind of leaves or trees, I was just impressed with the stillness and the very deep rich forest green tones. I sensed the presence of the Lord, and an invitation to enter. I felt freshness and quiet protection there from the noise and chaos outside, and from all the mind patter within. It was a place of rest from “doing” and a place of just “being”.

Moments later in the service, almost an affirmation, the worship leader said, (which does not often happen):

“I believe the Lord is calling each of us into a place of greater intimacy”.

This confirmed to me the sense I was having. It was His invitation to the place within, set apart, surrounded and protected into which He was calling.

As I continued to meditate upon this picture, the verses in Song of Solomon 4:12-15 “A garden enclosed my sister, my spouse…sealed! (v.12)

This garden of the inner man was the hidden place of the heart dedicated to the Lord.

Further on the passage recounts the rich array of fragrant shrubs, trees, and sweet fruit in the garden. And streams of water!

The passage culminates by the call to gentle winds to move back and forth on His garden (v.15) releasing the fragrance that it may be spread abroad.

I ask myself, is this not what we are called to be? With our inner “man” fresh and rich with the scent of heaven?

I recalled events of many years ago here in Jerusalem.

But first, to more fully appreciate the story, a bit of background on our conditions is the Middle East. Everything is dry for most of the year. For months on end there is barely a cloud, let alone rain, from May to November.

The Land, green and fresh in early spring, soon becomes brown, and parched by the relentless days of heat and sun.

Architecturally, there are many walls and enclosures for protection from the marauders over the centuries, so the streets may appear all stone faced alleys. In fact, just steps from where I am sitting, in Nachlaot, one of the earliest neighborhoods built outside the walls of the old city of Jerusalem, each block has the houses built in row style like a box, with outside walls having tiny windows, and a huge courtyard in the center for the whole block to enjoy.

Now the story!

There was a young man, a Jewish Believer, who decided to seek his roots in the Yeshiva, even though he had to conceal his faith in Messiah.

After some months, he was found out as a Messianic Believer, and the enraged rabbis called him a traitor, pulled his beard and threatened him. He fled the city and found a position as handyman, safely behind the thick walls and gates of a monastery in Ein Kerem.

We visited him to see how he was doing. After we pulled the long cord outside on an ancient brass bell within the walls, a tiny door within the great gates was opened for us. Once inside our friend showed us around and we were amazed to find the most wonderful of gardens. Within the walls were raised stonewalled beds with a fine array of herbs, flowers, and tender vegetables being cultivated. Fruit trees and grape vines shaded the pathways…a virtual paradise.

We did not return to visit for some months, but when we did we asked our friend to take us into the gardens.

He said, “I am afraid you will find it much changed!”

While he had warned us, we were not prepared for what we were about to see. It was devastating. Dry beds devoid of any growth, coarse dried up weeds looking like straw, trees with shriveled fruits.

“What has become of the garden?” we asked.

“The monks decided it cost too much for water, so they turned it off.”

All that remained of this amazing oasis was dried up and barren.

I am reminded now of this story as I contemplate each of us as the Lord’s sealed enclosed garden. Only he knows what is within.

Is that inner place green and cultivated with a rich variety of life?

When the winds of the Spirit come to blow on us, what fragrance wafts to those around us?

Or has the stream of living water been cut off and there is barrenness within.

I, for one, am responding to the call at the beginning of Song of Solomon … “Draw me and I will run after you…the King has brought me into his chambers…”

A song in the Night…

Psalm 42:8
Funny things happen when we wake up in the middle of the night and can’t go back to sleep.
What do we think about when we can not sleep? What thoughts run through our minds? Where do we go?
During the recent crisis in Gaza, we had many nights of interrupted sleep. Between sirens and stress; wondering…shall I check the live blog to see how other areas were faring in the constant barrage of rockets…prayer, plus musings on the personal affairs of each day…that is enough to keep anyone up!
These interruption to my sleep began happening with such regularity that I started to call these times my “night watches”!
No matter what time I woke up, it seemed I was up for 2 hours. So, what will it to be tonight, I would ask myself, 12-2 am, 2-4 am, 4-6 am?
During the day there are lots of distractions, people, things to do, places to go…but in the quiet of the night, covered by a blanket of dark & stillness, when all around are sleeping and distractions stop, where do our thoughts go?

I guess our issues are not so different than those of people in days of old in the night, because the bible talks about them!

Where are you or I?
Ps 6:6 Every night I make my bed swim, I dissolve my couch with my tears.

Are we groping for God in the midst of troubles?
Is.26:9 At night my soul longs for You, Indeed, my spirit within me seeks You diligently; For when the earth experiences Your judgments, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.…

Do we hide ourselves in Him?
Ps 91:4-5…And under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark. You will not be afraid of the terror by night..of the pestilence that stalks in darkness,

I ask myself, am I able to do this?
Ps. 4:4 Meditate in your heart upon your bed, and be still.

I find it is when I am squeezed that I see what comes out! Do I have the deep inner conviction and total realization that His Chesed, (Love, Mercy & Compassion), is commanded towards me?
Ps 42:8 The Lord will command his lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life

Is this so so deeply within me that it comes out as a song?

Can I get the point to where I shout for joy and rejoice upon my bed?
Ps 149:5 Let the saints be joyful in glory: let them sing aloud upon their beds.

I invite you to go deeper, Lord!

In the words of an anonymous commentator of old:
“Night and day should exhibit nothing but seasons for songs. In the best condition there is something over which we may murmur; in the worst something over which we may be thankful. Religion, (I would substitute the word Faith) always ministers to hope.

…Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the salvation of my countenance, and my God. Ps.42:11

Remove the Veil, Lord!

In these times: war today, peace today and threat of war tomorrow; we have desire for peace and at the same time, to dispel our enemies forcefully. Rockets fly, and then the lulls…we need greater revelation. Father! Draw us in to that place of safety and intimacy in your presence where we can see beyond the worlds in collision to where you are! Focusing on the situation is overwhelming.

“Why do the heathen rage?”(Psalm 2:1) We need your Grace to abound in us that we might attain to that place where you sit smiling in the heavens unfazed. You remain still as a summer’s day in the midst of the vain attempts to thwart your plans and purposes for us and the Land. Grant us that composure.

Take us into your counsel. Draw us to the place where we belong, seated with you in Heavenly places.

Your secrets are with those that fear you (Psalm 25:14). Your council is in intimacy. Commentators say that this word “secret” in Hebrew (sod) comes from the word for couch or divan, reminiscent of the orientals who gathered and reclined on couches in intimate consultations.

Oh, to be in that place, like John, leaning on your breast, hearing your very heartbeat. That is where we long to be in these times!

Take us in