Purim

Being an enthusiastic student of the Bible, I realized the importance of discovering the Jewishness of the Tanakh (Old Testament). So for over six years I have attended a wonderful Messianic Congregation. My pastor and his wife are Jewish. They grew up with the customs, practices and language of their people. I have been blessed as insights and interpretations, that can only come from a Jew, have flavored my Biblical understanding.

Yesterday was the Jewish holiday called Purim. It is a yearly commemoration of how beautifully God worked in behalf of the Jews. The account can be found in the book of Esther.

They have a tradition that really needs to be changed. Whenever the name “Haman” is said, people boo and twirl the groggers. I know why they do this. Haman was the enemy.

As only God could do, events were woven together on His timetable. The result? God’s principle, “You reap what you sow” took effect. Haman’s scheming to destroy the Jews fell on him and his ten sons.

When people react to Haman by their booing and noise-making, they show shortsightedness. Instead, when Haman’s name is mentioned people should praise God for His deliverance. After all, if there were  no Haman, God’s love for His people would not have needed displaying.

Yes, definately this Jewish tradition of booing Haman’s name needs to change. Sift focus. Praise God instead. After all, without God Haman would have won. Give credit where credit is due. Recognize the Defeater not the defeated.

Read more about God’s point of view concerning our enemies in Forgiveness, God-Style by B. L. Wade. Both e-book and printed version are available on Amazon.com.

 

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Can You Forgive Yourself?

To forgive oneself presents a problem for many. Read a letter written by a woman found in Mark 5:25-34.

Dear Friend,

I can not express the joy I feel. You have no idea the hell I have been living in these past 12 years. An outcast shunned by all – even you. No one knows the many nights I cried myself to sleep, desperately wishing I would never awake on the morrow.

All my savings were spent on so-called doctors. They were quick to take my money even though they could not help me. I only grew worse. I couldn’t work. My physical condition robbed me of strength. More than that, I was considered unclean. To touch people or their possessions was unthinkable. I could not even worship at the temple.

Oh, how many times I repeated the words of the psalm: Has God forgotten how to pity? Has he in anger stifled His compassion? All hope was gone. All avenues of help were exhausted. Dead ends, all of them. But then I heard of one who had healed many. Truly, this man is a prophet sent from God, I thought.

So when I heard him passing by, I quickly covered myself so I would not be recognized. I knew I was not worthy to look into his eyes, to have him speak directly to me – like he did to Jairus – or even touch me. My thought was, “If I could just touch the hem of his robe, I will be healed.”

I know what you are thinking. What audacity to make this good man unclean because I wanted to touch him! How unbelievable to think healing might be in his clothing! Why, after 12 years, would God even consider me worthy of healing?

Please understand. I knew all this, but I was desperate. Being careful not to draw attention to myself, I pushed through the crowd that surrounded him. When I was close enough I stretched out my arm. I felt like a thief as my fingertips touched his garment.

Immediately, I was healed. Immediately, I was no longer unclean, no longer an outcast of society, no longer without hope.

That’s when my heart stopped. In fact everything stopped – the man and the crowd. His words, “Who touched me?” sent shivers through my body. Life played out in slow motion. I heard Peter talking. I saw the anxious look on Jairus’ face realizing that time was running out for his daughter. I saw this man turn around, searching the faces of the people. I felt the weight of being responsible for the delay.

I couldn’t stop trembling – out of joy for my healing and out of fear for my presumptuous act. When I felt his eyes on me, I bowed at his feet and confessed all. “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” His kind words comforted me. I was no longer afraid that I had done something wrong, but how quickly that changed.

Even as He spoke to me, I could hear words spoken to Jairus. Words that cut through my heart. “Do not trouble the Master any further. Your daughter is dead.” I was the delay that caused this child of 12 to die. My blessing was her curse.

How could she forgive herself? She was responsible for the delay that cost the child’s life. She was healed in her body, but her soul would suffer the grief of this situation. To forgive herself would mean that she did not value the young life. Good thing she did not end her letter this way.

As I turned to leave, my composure was restored. Words spoken to that grieving father echoed in my ears. I knew all would be well because Jesus said, “Be not afraid, only believe.”

Your resurrected friend.

She was able to forgive herself because she knew that Jesus was in total control. His intervention would make everything all right.  The questions we must ask ourselves is, “Does our belief system support this truth? Do we recognize that Jesus is in total control?”

Read more about this subject in Forgiveness, God-Style by B. L. Wade. E-book and printed copy available on Amazon.com

 

The Rest of the Story – Who Was the True Hero?

In 2 Kings 5 we are told the story of Namaan, a Syrian captain, who was a leper. He heard that the prophet Elisha could heal  him. So, with his king’s permission, this important man placed himself in a humbling position by traveling to Samaria to ask for that healing.

Elisha’s words, “Go wash yourself seven times in the Jordan River” must have seemed like a slap on the face. Fortunately, his traveling companions were wiser than Namaan. At their urging he relented and did as he was commanded.

With gratitude and a new vision of the one true God, Namaan returned home free of leprosy. His obedience had paid off.

But who was the true hero? Namaan? He was seeking gain for himself. His companions? They were showing their loyalty to their friend. Elisha? He was doing his God-directed job. Who then?

The unsung hero was a little Israelite girl. Taken from her home, family, friends, heritage – everything that was familiar and dear to her – she became a servant to Namaan’s wife. Her childhood, that should have been carefree, was left behind, replaced with doing the wishes of another person, growing up in a place where she didn’t belong, living in a culture strange to her. How alone and lonely she must have felt!

This insignificant child, a spoil of war, displayed no bitterness, no unforgiveness, no anger, no depression, no running away. In spite of idolatry all around her, she didn’t lose faith in her God. Instead, she shared Him with her captor. Even at her young age, she recognized that the true hostage wasn’t herself. It was Namaan.

She was the courageous one. She displayed unshakable faith despite possible ridicule. She made the most of her unpleasant situation, realizing that God had missionary work for her to do. She refused to allow the hopelessness of her circumstances to become a stumbling block. Instead, she climbed the faith mountain in recognition and adoration for her one, true God, bringing with her Namaan’s family and all those he influenced.

What was her name? We aren’t told, but she is known for what she did. In a few generations, people won’t know our names either, but the works and deeds we do today will circle our part of the earth with lasting effects.

Undoubtedly, this unselfish girl was the true hero – a giant in heart and spirit, not seeking her own gain but placing others ahead of herself.

How proud of her God must have been in order to immortalize this true worshiper in His Word!

Note: She is a classic example of how God expects us to forgive. Her attitude was accompanied with God’s healing of all the bad thoughts and feelings that she experienced in her new life. Read more about this subject in Forgiveness, God-Style by B. L. Wade on Amazon.com. E-book and paperback are both available.

Shadow

When I was a young girl growing up in the pre-television days, I enjoyed listening to a radio show called “The Shadow Knows.” To the best of my recollection, the Shadow was a private investigator who solved crimes with his interpretation of mysterious clues.

This was a good program. The bad thing was that it ended past my bedtime. The nice thing about a 2-story house was that I could sneak halfway down the stairs and still hear the finish.

Once when I wanted to take a picture of my fourth dog, I captured her standing in my shadow. Bright sunlight was all around, but Honey Girl was unaffected. She kept her eyes on me.

I wonder if that is what God intended when He gave numerous Scriptures about shadow and shade. Many are recorded in Psalms.

I can picture Shepherd David sitting on a small hill. It’s late afternoon and shadows are lengthening. He is alert to possible predators because shadows not only provide shade for the sheep in its path but also camouflage for drooling animals.

The longer the shadow, the more protection given and needed.

Isaiah 49:2 tells me that I am hid in the shadow of the Lord’s hand. David records it as God being his help, and in the shadow of God’s wings he shouts for joy (Psalm 63). Certainly God, if I allow Him, gives me refuge in His shadow until danger passes (Psalm 57) – from the wicked who would rob me and mortal enemies who encircle me (Psalm 17). I am not destroyed or blinded by their presence or actions, because my eyes are fixed on God.

Just as people placed loved ones who needed healing in the path of Peter so that his shadow might fall on them (Acts 5)…just as Israel was to revive those people who sat in its shade (Hosea 14)…so I, also, am shade to those in my path. As I bask in the sunlight of God’s presence, so my shadow should provide comfort, joy and protection to others – even my enemies!

Read God’s take on your enemies in Forgiveness, God Style  by B. L. Wade. Find it on Amazon as an e-book or paperback book.