Inside Israel – from Jerusalem

“Hi” and blessings today as you take a look inside Israel. I’m sharing this personal letter from J of Jerusalem, a Jewish believer. Since I received this letter, J has been in the hospital, so your prayers for her and for Israel are always so appreciated! Thank you! Now, here’s J . . .

“Have I offended you?” O. asked me at kehila (fellowship meeting) a few weeks ago. The question took me by surprise for several reasons. First of all, I hadn’t heard that question in a very long time, from anyone. Secondly, O. and I hardly ever talk to one another. I thought back to when (and how) we first met. When we used to rent a larger place for our meetings, I was a ‘doorkeeper’ and that included greeting people. I remember the first day that she and her family came and I greeted them, asking if they were visiting and their answer made it obvious to me that they were ‘leaders’ and I had no need to greet them. During subsequent weeks I greeted them and usually received a minimal or no response. That did in fact, ‘pinch’. I wasn’t one of the ‘important’ people from their circle. How did I deal with it? I struggled…but finally forgave them and put it aside until I could pray for their blessing as well, when I prayed for the members of the kehila. I thought for a moment, and said, truthfully, “No, O., you have not offended me. Did something make you think that you had? ”Then she thought; “No…I just wondered and didn’t want anything between us.” I hugged her. “No. I don’t either! God bless you!”
I went home thinking about the encounter. I was blessed that she was sensitive to care if she had offended someone and had humbled herself to ask. Her husband (who speaks once a month at our fellowship) has been out of work for quite awhile and has suddenly had a job offer in China (!). Obviously this is a big decision for them (they have a large family) and it was wonderful to see that they wanted to make certain that everything was in order spiritually so that they could hear from The Lord clearly.
That got me thinking about “Offense”, “Forgiveness” and the gift of “Repentance” afresh. God is just SO incredibly good to us to give us His ‘low’ way. It’s so low that the shortest and youngest of us can ‘reach’ it, even little children. It is not difficult for a tall person to stoop down, but for a short one to climb up can indeed be hard. He has made provision.
Back in the 1970s I heard a message given by Campbell McAlpine that was to change my life. He spoke about the offended person becoming a betrayer! Now that startled me. ‘I thought that the offended person was the victim!’ Indeed, I listened closely as he took us through the scriptures…beginning with Cain and Abel…going through Joseph’s brothers…and ending, shockingly at Judas! I was frightened and I wept and sought Him as I knew that I was a particularly touchy and easily offended person, very opinionated. Oh, it was ‘colored’ nicely ‘She is SO sensitive!’ people would say, but…now… I knew the Truth about myself! The Lord had shined His revealing Light into my wicked heart, and (to quote Amy Carmichael) I stood “confessed outright undone”. I kept the verse from Psalm 119:165 “Great peace have they which love Thy law and NOTHING shall offend them” above my kitchen sink for years, praying it and asking God for help. Some years later I did a Bible study concerning forgiveness that gave a LONG list of awful sins followed by scriptures that pointed out just how deep those sins run (for example ‘if you look on a woman with lust, you have already committed adultery’). At the time I was dealing with a nasty sin of unforgiveness in my heart toward a sister in The Lord who simply didn’t like me, and constantly ‘set me at naught’. I looked at that LONG list of sins and realized that I was guilty of most of them because I ‘hated my sister without a cause’. Oh yes, she was setting me at naught, BUT…had she ever stolen our food? Or caused harm to our children? Had she killed my loved one?…but I found that the ‘hurt’ in my heart had turned to anger, and the anger to hatred…and that made me a murderer and a betrayer! Talk about a ‘holy fear’! I was terrified and disgusted as I fell to my knees and cried out repenting! Did I get the victory immediately? No way! I struggled, and lifted it before The Lord over and over and OVER! Until I COULD put aside all of the ‘slights’ and become her sister again! Then I suddenly understood what a horrible thing the enemy does in the body through stirring up ‘slights’ and magnifying differences and causing us to take offense, causing ‘silent’ rifts in the body…the holy body of Messiah!

There was another time during which ‘The Word of God tried me’ in this area…and it nearly killed me! A leader in a fellowship that I was part of and loved, accused me of an awful sin and ‘forbid’ others to fellowship with me. The Lord told me to ‘be silent and discuss it with nobody’, and I obeyed Him. During that season, I was afraid that I was lost. There have been some very hard times in my life, but that was the hardest. That trial lasted 7 years and the biggest battle was to forgive. My husband and children all stumbled through that trial…and still I had to forgive…and silently. I told The Lord that ‘Someday I believed I would be able to thank Him from my heart for the trial’, but during those long, agonizing years I could only thank Him for it ‘by faith’.

And now…I can, and do, thank Him with my WHOLE heart for that experience! No, I never saw that leader again, nor do I know what became of it all…but I know that I have forgiven and my heart is free. And I feel bad for the leader because others were caused to stumble.

And that is the other side of the coin…not CAUSING offense. James said that in ‘many things we offend all’ but Yeshua said ‘woe to him through whom offense comes’! What a responsibility!! BOTH to forgive, AND to not cause offense! Oh Lord! This FLESH dies HARD!

So O., in her great tenderness, asked me if she had offended me! I COULD have said ‘Yes, O. When we met, you always looked through me and made me feel as if I wasn’t ‘good enough’ for you’…but you know what? There was no need. I had already forgiven that. It was under The precious Blood!
Sometimes people comment on how ‘spiritual’ I am…but BELIEVE ME, I’M NOT!! All of us are the SAME flesh given the same opportunity to take up the cross and carry it…by applying the cross and The Blood…and the Living Word to our hearts and minds. My flesh, without His grace, is FAR smellier then yours!

And so, God IS building His Temple HERE…with imperfect stones touched by His anvil…and that includes me,…and that includes O. It is Jerusalem day as I write this, and it is a proper time to think about the building of His temple. I am thankful to be a small stone, built together with each of you. God bless you! May He build His temple and fill it with His glory!

And now…I am given the painful ‘opportunity’ to illustrate what I wrote, and fully believe. I need to ask you to forgive me. The last letter that I sent out was concerning Jerusalem Day, after the fact…and I did want to share it with you. But these letters that I send are not intended to be ‘my own’. I write them as an observer and a ‘translator in the breach’, a person who has been called to stand in Jerusalem, and to simply bare witness to what I see so that others can pray. That CAN’T be done in the flesh or it only brings forth, produces flesh! I must confess to you that just before writing the last letter I had had an argument with my Husband and I was angry! I knew that I should not write until I had repented, but I could not imagine getting another time to write…so…I wrote and sent it…being unrepentant of the anger that I was nursing. I gave The Lord an unholy offering. I have received The Lord’s forgiveness, but now I must ask you to please forgive me, because I shared that unclean offering with you. As I have prepared to send out this letter (written earlier) concerning forgiveness, The Lord began to deal with my heart and show me more about the depth of the filth of unforgiveness. It IS a spiritual issue, bigger then I understand. Isn’t He good in that we must be partakers of what we think we know!

May God bless you this week with a double portion of His Spirit as Shavuot (Pentecost) approaches. Lovingly, your sis – may we glorify HIM and finish the work!

ani b’derek

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