Ah, Israel. The cradle of our faith. The place where Jesus walked.
The Pool at Bethsaida photo by Larry Kutzler
One of the things I so love about our Lord is that Jesus was a master storyteller. We feel we can actually see the characters he so vividly renders in his teaching parables about widows and farmers and a prodigal and his family. But these imaginings can sometimes impede our knowledge that there were also real people who met Jesus and walked away forever changed. This distinction is so important–the ministry of Jesus is not just about his instructive teaching. We have a historical record to inspire and direct us still today. The pool pictured above is where Jesus miraculously instructed a lame man to pick up his mat and walk according to John 5:2-17
Knowing what Jesus accomplished there encourages my faith and makes me more confident to claim that even today, he still heals.
When I had the joy and privilege to travel to Israel
We prayed outside an abortion facility in Atlanta today as a joyful act of obedience to God’s call for Day 38 of the 40 Days for Life prayer vigil. I arrived early and joined three women already in prayer. We stood across the street and faced the facility. It was cold and windy and quiet. The sun had not yet come up. As I faced the building something beautiful caught me eye.
Do you see the heart in the trees?
It’s a shaky image, I know, but the sky was still so dark that my little Nikon couldn’t capture the shutter speed of the flash without the blur.
Our prayers took us to God’s heart as we offered requests for mercy and for healing to all who have participated and those who will participate in abortion. If that’s you–I really hope and pray you see God’s heart today. Here is what He wants you to know: “Don’t be afraid for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” (Isaiah 41: 10 Holy Bible, New Living Translation)
If you are suffering after abortion, even if your faith is shaky, keep looking up. See the truth of love pouring out to you from Jesus Christ today, and see the heart of God.
I’ve had three encounters this week with Christians who feel beset by guilt and feeling ineffective in their faith as a result. I used to struggle in this way, and I think it must by common to all followers of Jesus. The first things to to do when these feelings surface is to confess any sin driving your emotions to a fellow follower of Jesus and pray with him or her so that you may be healed (James 5:16). Yes, the area of your soul that generates sin and the area of your mind that generates destructive thoughts can be healed. But if the painful feelings of guilt persist the quickest and most effective way to escape the guilt trap is to read and believe Scripture–listen to what God says instead of the negative voice in your head.
Here are some helpful truths to combat free-floating guilt that remains after you know you have confessed a sin to God and another believer. When you are tempted to believe these lies, listen to the truth instead.
“I have no friends. I’m just doomed to be lonely” truth is that Jesus is an eternal Friend, “Greater love has no man than this—to lay down His life for His friends.” John 15:13
“I’m not worthy” truth is “God so loved me that He gave His only Son so that I can have eternal life” John 3:16
“I’ll never succeed” truth is “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:28-32)
“I deserve to fail” truth is “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” Romans 8:1
“This is too hard and scary—I’ll never be able to prevail” truth is “God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, love and a sound mind (self-control)” 2 Timothy 1:7
“I don’t deserve love and support” truth is “God loves me with an everlasting love and always live to make intercession for me” Hebrews 7:25 and Romans 8:34
“I’m not good enough” truth is “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5) and “…whoever comes to me I will never drive away” (John 6:37)