The Fruit of the Spirit Study Week 7

Front Porch Bible Study Series / The Fruit of the Spirit

This month we are focusing on LOVE, the first fruit of the Spirit. In Weeks 5 and 6, we studied how we show God’s love to others through intercessory prayer and Christian service. This week we’ll look at how God’s love grows inside our spirits and produces fruit for God’s kingdom. Join me as we study how to abide in the vine.

Week 7: LOVE

Click to Read: John 15: 1-8 NKJV.

Click to Read: Memory Verse: “‘By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples'” (John 15:8 NKJV).


Jesus explains what living the true Christian life is like by comparing it to a vinedresser (God) who cares for the branches (those saved by grace), which are attached to the true vine (Jesus).

God prunes every branch by either cutting away those that don’t produce any fruit or by pruning a fruitful branch to make it more productive.
Either way, we’re all going to feel some pain on occasion when God comes to inspect us!

Jesus then defines the consequences of rejecting Christ: “‘If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned’” (John 15:6 NKJV).

On the other hand, Jesus promises to those who accept Him: “‘If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples'” (John 15:7-8 NKJV).

Are you a gardener? If so, you’ll best understand the principle of pruning and cutting. We trim off dead branches to make way for new growth, in addition to watering, fertilizing, and sunning our plants for maximum growth and yield.

Jesus, as our gardener, looks at the fruit of our spirits. We are designed as flowering branches, expected to grow abundant fruit by yielding ourselves to His loving care–as well as His pruning shears.

Daily we ask for forgiveness through Christ’s blood shed at the cross and ready our spirits to receive His nourishment. As the Holy Spirit flows through our lives, like water inside branches, we are filled to overflowing, without sin or iniquity blocking the flow.

Jesus also cultivates us by cutting away any dead works, pruning us to the nub so that more sap can get through. Since we are connected to Jesus through faith after we’re born-again, our vines are fed by the sap of the Holy Spirit, automatically causing us to bear much fruit.

What kinds of things does God prune away in our lives? Perhaps ones like bad habits, wrong thinking, or negative attitudes and words. Sometimes it may involve losing friendships or changing activities that are leading us down wrong paths. And yes, this cutting away can be very painful.

Although pruning represents a loss in our lives, it’s necessary so we can produce abundant fruit. As spiritual branches, we have a choice: either be withered, cut off, and burned up in God’s fire OR abide in the vine and bear much fruit.

He also promises to give us our heart’s desire if we plant His Word in our spirits. Isn’t that a sweet promise to do and claim?

Our goal is to bring God glory by bearing much fruit for His Kingdom. How has the Lord been using His pruning shears in your life?

Prayer: Dear Lord, we humbly ask You to cultivate us to be more fruitful. May we willingly yield our spirits to your pruning shears. Give us much fruit so we can bring you much glory. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Let’s pray one for another. Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much ~ James 5:16.

Heartwings Front Porch Bible Studies

The Fruit of the Spirit Study Week 6

Front Porch Bible Study Series Week 6 by Karen Jurgens

Front Porch Bible Study Series / The Fruit of the Spirit

Future videos will appear at the beginning of each month when a new fruit of the Spirit is introduced. The month of February is about the study of LOVE and how we show God’s love to one another. Our pot of seeds we planted last week is now full of little green sprouts! May God’s love take root in your heart and bloom more everyday.

Week 6: LOVE

Front Porch Bible Study Week 6 by Karen Jurgens

Click to read: John 13: 3-17 NKJV

“‘If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet’” (John 13:14 NKJV).

Jesus taught His disciples many lessons during His three years of earthly ministry. Even on the night of His coming arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus demonstrated servanthood—not just telling, but showing them by example.

“Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded” (John 13:3-5 NKJV).

When He came to Peter, Peter balked in his usual exaggerated way, refusing to allow Jesus to perform a lowly servant’s job. Jesus explained that although the disciples didn’t understand His actions now, they would later. He continued, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me” (13:8).  Peter swung to the other extreme, pleading, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and head!” (13:9). Jesus reassured Peter that a person who has bathed only needs to wash his feet to be totally clean.

Let’s discuss the important lesson Jesus taught His disciples and the part humility played. According to Jesus, who is greater—the master or the servant?

Immediately following the Last Supper, there arose a quarrel among the disciples over who was the greatest among them. Jesus addressed their dispute by using His role as a model for them to imitate.

“And He said to them, ‘The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those who exercise authority over them are called ‘benefactors.’  But not so among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves.  For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves'” (Luke 22:25-27 NKJV).

In today’s world, many religious “on-stage” leaders are puffed up and prideful What Scriptures might Jesus quote to them?

“When pride comes, then comes shame; But with the humble is wisdom” (Proverbs 11:2 NKJV) OR “Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18 NKJV).

Roles of leadership are roles of humble servanthood in disguise

As we step forward to serve others, may our passion spring from a pure and humble heart. It’s the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit we are promoting, and it’s Jesus to whom we point–not ever to ourselves. May the Lord Jesus always receive the glory and honor, for He alone is worthy of our worship and praise.

How do you show God’s love through service?

Lord, may we learn to be humble and serve one another. We strive for the promise of John 13:17: “‘If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.’” In Jesus’s Name we pray, Amen.

Let’s pray one for another. Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much ~ James 5:16.

Heartwings Front Porch Bible Studies

The Fruit of the Spirit Study Week 5

Heart"wings" Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens

Week 5: Love

Welcome to our study of the first fruit of the Spirit–LOVE. Let’s allow the Lord to plant seeds of love for others in the fertile soil of our hearts this month. Let’s begin by digging up verses of truth in the Word…

Read: Luke 8:40-42; 49-56

Topic: Intercessory Prayer

Memory Verse: “But when Jesus heard it, He answered him, saying, ‘Do not be afraid; only believe, and she will be made well’” (Luke 8:50 NKJV).

Examine:  God plants seeds of love in our hearts for others who are sick or suffering. He calls us to pray for others and intercede on their behalf.
But how powerful is intercessory prayer?

During Week 2, we studied about Jairus, who had persuaded Jesus to come to his home to heal his dying twelve-year-old daughter. As they pressed through the throngs of people, Jesus suddenly stopped and addressed a woman with an issue of blood who had been healed by touching the hem of His tallit or prayer shawl.

After they had resumed their walk, one of Jairus’s servants came running with a report that Jairus’s daughter had just died and not to trouble the Teacher any longer. “Do not be afraid, only believe and she will be made well,” Jesus answered (verse 50), and “Do not weep; she is not dead, but sleeping” (verse 52).

Although the mourners ridiculed Jesus for His words, the Lord took His three closest disciples and the girl’s parents into the room where she lay.  “But He put them all outside, took her by the hand and called, saying, ‘Little girl, arise.’ Then her spirit returned, and she arose immediately. And He commanded that she be given something to eat” (Luke 8:54-55).

Discuss:  Does someone you know have a situation or illness that appears hopeless?
Intercessory prayer tills the soil where God plants miracles Others may express disbelief, but we should model Jesus who ignored the naysayers. His miracles always bring glory to the Father and prove His identity as the Son of God.

Notice how faith works concerning both pleas for healing in Luke 8. The woman with the issue of blood reached out to touch Jesus’s tassels on the edge of His tallit. Hers was an example of direct prayer on her own behalf–not of intercession. Many people were pressing against Jesus in the crowd, and He hadn’t been aware of her presence until after He had felt power go out of Him. She had seized and received her healing through her great faith.
“And He said to her, ‘Daughter, be of good cheer; your faith has made you well. Go in peace'” (Luke 8:48 NKJV).

But the little girl couldn’t reach out–Jesus came to her bedside and touched her on behalf of her father’s intercession.
Isn’t it wonderful to realize that we, as intercessors, have the power to bring Jesus to the bedside of those for whom we pray?

Does a situation look impossible? That’s no reason to be discouraged or to give up.
Our job is to keep praying and interceding on behalf of others. Jesus may be ready to perform miraculous healings in answer to our prayers, according to His perfect will. What a glorious day of rejoicing when we witness His healing touch!

How has your life been changed through intercessory prayer?

Prayer:  Dear Lord, thank you for showing us Your perfect love through answering intercessory prayer. Erase our doubts by helping us grow in our faith so that we believe in Your miracles. May we not only reach out and touch the hem of Your garment for our healing, but may we faithfully intercede on behalf of others. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much ~ James 5:16.

Heartwings Front Porch Bible Studies

The Fruit of the Spirit Study Week 4

Week 4: Introduction

Topic: Fighting Spiritual Battles

Read: Galatians 5:16-25

Memory Verse: “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16 NKJV).

Examine:  Did you know there is a battle going on continually in our spirits? Paul instructs us to feed our spirits so that our flesh with its ungodly desires is defeated. He tics off a long list: “adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like;” and concludes that “…those who practice such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God” (verses 19-21).

How do we fight against such ungodly desires to stop their attacks? We will all be tempted at times, but we must know that God has provided us with spiritual weapons to overcome those temptations. What are our weapons? Let’s read Ephesians 6:10-18.

But here’s the good news. After we put on our spiritual armor, we can easily defeat the enemy with its wicked temptations. The flesh with its passions and desires are crucified with Christ. Then we can feast on the fruit of the Spirit, walking victoriously in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Discuss: Do you remember the hymn called, “Onward Christian Soldiers?” I remember singing it in Sunday School as well as in church. God provided us with spiritual armor to put on daily as we go out to fight our enemy, Satan, who comes to us in many forms. Ephesians 6:11-12 defines this war: “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

Let’s define the fruit of the Spirit, so we always choose it. Here’s the list: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Can you choose one from the list and give an example of what it looks like in today’s culture? Which ones do you want to see grow and mature in your life?

Prayer:  Dear Lord, may we deny the temptations of the flesh by putting on our spiritual armor and always choose the fruit of the Spirit in our daily lives. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much ~ James 5:16.

Heartwings Front Porch Bible Studies

The Fruit of the Spirit Study Week 3

Front Porch Bible Study Series

Week 3: Introduction

Topic: Born-again salvation

Read: John 3:1-21 NKJV

Memory Verse: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:16-17 NKJV).

Examine:  Nicodemus secretly met with the Lord one night, so he could question Him about His miraculous works. Can’t we identify with this Pharisee’s literal thinking? I know I can. Even with all his religious education and high position as a ruler of the Jews, he was baffled by Jesus’s statement that “’unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God’” (John 3:3). However, Jesus took the opportunity to teach about the difference between the flesh and the Spirit. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6). Jesus used the wind as an example to illustrate this principle. “‘The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit’” (John 3:8).

Discuss: Jesus explained spiritual birth to Nicodemus, a Torah scholar and intellectual who was confused about the born-again concept. As was Jesus’s custom, He used an illustration to express what salvation is like–a mystery of God that we feel and witness but cannot see. Perhaps that’s why intellectuals, even today, find this concept difficult to understand. It’s a matter of the heart and spirit where true salvation takes place.

The consequence of Adam and Eve’s disobedience sentenced every person to be born into spiritual death, a condition which separates us from God. But God sent His Son into the world to save mankind and reunite us with the Father. God provided His only Son as the perfect sacrificial Lamb who laid down His life on the cross. Jesus took the sins of the world on Himself so we could be saved through His shed blood. Everyone who believes on the Name of Jesus will be born again, but those who don’t believe are already condemned.

How about you? If you’ve been born-again, would you share your salvation story with us? If not, pray this prayer below and let us know so we can rejoice with you! “‘Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents’” ~ (Luke 15:10).

Prayer: Dear God, I’m a sinner, but I want to be born again. I confess and repent of my sins. Come into my life and be my Lord and Savior. Wash my sins away in the blood of the Lamb and robe me in your righteousness. Thank you for making me alive in Jesus and writing my name in the Lamb’s Book of Life. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much ~ James 5:16.

Heartwings Front Porch Bible Studies

The Fruit of the Spirit Study Week 2

coffee-2390136_1920 Week 2

This Week's Topic by Karen Jurgens

 

Week 2 Introduction: Exercise your faith

 

 

Scriptural Reading by Karen Jurgens

 

Luke 8:40-48

 

 

Scripture Memory by Karen Jurgens 

“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6 NKJV).

 

Let's examine by Karen Jurgens

Jairus, a ruler of the Synagogue, had a twelve-year-old daughter who was on her deathbed. He sought Jesus for help. As Jairus escorted Him to his house among the thronging multitudes, Jesus stopped. “Who touched Me?” No one spoke up. “Somebody touched Me, for I perceived power going out from Me.” Then a trembling woman fell before Him and confessed that she had been healed the instant she had touched the hem of His garment. He responded, “Daughter, be of good cheer; your faith has made you well. Go in peace.” (Luke 8:45-48)

Let's Discuss by Karen Jurgens

Why would this woman’s faith be significant? In the culture of that day, she was considered unclean because of her hemorrhage. For twelve years she had suffered, having spent all her money on physicians who couldn’t help her. Such conditions forbade her mingling among the crowds, so she kept a low profile, hoping she wouldn’t be noticed. But her faith drove her on. She knew that if she could just touch the lowest edge of the tassels on Jesus’s prayer shawl, she would be healed. Getting to Him was her only hope.

Why had she hesitated to come forward when He asked who had touched Him? Most likely, she had never expected Him to know what she’d done. For an unclean woman to touch a holy Teacher was unthinkable. She was caught, and she trembled at how He might respond. She must have been shocked when Jesus addressed her with words of kindness and love instead of harsh rebuke. “Daughter, be of good cheer. Your faith has made you well. Go in peace” (Luke 8:48).

During this initial month of the New Year, let’s intentionally exercise our faith to attain spiritual health.

As sinners, we all are “unclean” until we “grab hold” of Jesus and accept His salvation. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

But Jesus cleanses our spirits with His blood shed at Calvary, and His resurrection sealed our eternity with Him in heaven. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

Let’s also exercise our faith to receive healing from sickness and disease.

We all suffer from occasional sickness. Or perhaps you’ve been diagnosed with a malady that modern medicine can’t heal. Have you ever used your faith to press into our Great Physician? Let’s take this week to stretch our faith and reach out for the hem of His garment.

What are you asking the Lord to do for you today?

If you’re praying for healing, or if you’ve been healed in the past, would you encourage us with your testimony?

Let's Pray by Karen Jurgens

Dear Lord, take our measure of faith and stretch it this week. May we believe for physical healing and gratefully receive it according to your perfect will. In Jesus’s Name. Amen.

Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much ~ James 5:16.

Heartwings Front Porch Bible Studies

The Fruit of the Spirit Study Week One

Welcome! So delighted that you have come to visit on the Front Porch today. Pull up a chair, grab a hot cup of java, and open your Bible to the book of Psalms. Stay for five minutes or as long as you can. You’re encouraged to leave comments on A Woman’s Fellowship/Ministry Page where this study is posted, but you’re also welcome to comment on my WordPress website. I’ll jump into the conversation from time-to-time, too. Are you ready to begin? Let’s go!

Week 1: Intro

 This Week's Topic by Karen Jurgens

 

Spiritual Renewal for the New Year

 

 

Scriptural Reading by Karen Jurgens

 

Psalms 51  (See 2 Samuel 11-12:15 for further study)

 

 

Scripture Memory by Karen Jurgens

 “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalms 51:10 NKJV).

 

 

 Let's examine by Karen Jurgens

Do you make New Year’s Resolutions? Most of us vow to diet and exercise after months of feasting over the holidays. That’s great for our physical bodies, but what about our spirits? How do we get them in shape?

How do we get our spirits in shape?

 

Like King David, let’s begin with prayer to cleanse our spirits from sin. He prays, “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow” (Psalms 51:7). David asks the Lord to restore the joy of his salvation and sustain him with a willing spirit. His request isn’t selfish, as we might expect, but he desires restoration so that he can help other sinners find salvation. Then he states he will joyfully sing of God’s righteousness and declare His praise.

“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart—these, O God, You will not despise” (Psalms 51:17).

 Let's Discuss by Karen Jurgens

As we enter a fresh start in 2019, let’s make a list of spiritual resolutions. What can you do differently to grow closer to God this year? Spend more time in prayer? Read and study more in the Word? How is the Lord leading you to be more involved this year? (Share your commitment in the comments below.)

 Let's Pray by Karen Jurgens

Dear Lord, may we begin the New Year with a clean, pure heart in Your sight. Cleanse us with your blood and clothe us with your righteousness. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Heartwings Front Porch Bible Studies

Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much ~ James 5:16.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year by Karen Jurgens
Wishing everyone a healthy, happy, and blessed New Year.

Are you excited about all the new things the Lord will do in 2019? For many, 2018 has been a difficult year, and they are anxious to leave it behind.

Several challenges have faced my own family, including my mother’s two eye surgeries and each of my daughters relocating to a new apartment unexpectedly. We have prayed and sought the Lord together like never before, and He always saw us through our trials. We are so thankful!

For such a time as this, let me share one of my favorite Scriptures:

“Do not remember the former things,
Nor consider the things of old.
 Behold, I will do a new thing,
Now it shall spring forth;
Shall you not know it?” ~ Isaiah 43:18-19, NKJV


Remember to look forward, not behind. Let’s experience His blessings and rejoice together this year. What are you anticipating in 2019?

Merry Christmas from Touched By Him Ministries


6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.

18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them (Luke 2:6-20).

Wishing everyone a blessed and a very Merry Christmas! May you make room for Jesus to be born in your hearts this day. Praying that peace, love, and joy abound in your lives this Christmas season.

Road to Bethlehem

Road to Bethlehem by Karen Jurgens

 Have you ever had to travel a road to a new destination, not knowing what to expect? God alone held your future, and all you could do was trust Him to take care of you. Mary and Joseph must have felt the same way on their long road to Bethlehem. Let’s imagine together what that journey may have been like.

Mary sat, rocking gently side-to-side on a donkey led by her husband Joseph. As they traveled the ninety long miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem, she had several days to ponder about the supernatural events of the last nine months.

Beginning with Gabriel’s angelic visitation, Mary was astounded at the announcement that God had chosen her, a virgin, to be the mother of His promised Messiah.

And the angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God’ ~ Luke 1:35 NKJV.

Why her? A poor, fourteen-year-old Jewish girl from a strict, religious family who was betrothed to a carpenter, also devout. But why couldn’t God have waited until after they were married to avoid the scandal of a child conceived out-of-wedlock?

Joseph had confessed to her that he had been planning to “put her away” quietly so that she wouldn’t be disgraced in their community—not to mention avoiding the penalty of death by stoning.

Road to Bethlehem by Karen Jurgens

She shuddered and drew her cloak more tightly around her shoulders, recalling the dream Joseph had shared with her. God had reassured him that her unborn child belonged to the Holy Spirit and not to a man.

‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save Hispeople from their sins’ ~ Matthew 1:20b-21 NKJV.

She bowed her head and silently thanked God for His protection, deliverance, and especially for her husband’s obedience to God’s instruction.

Her thoughts turned to her relative, Elizabeth. More supernatural signs had appeared before her eyes that revealed she herself wasn’t the only woman who had conceived by a miracle.

Road to Bethlehem by Karen Jurgens

Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible ~ Luke 1: 36-37 NKJV.

After Gabriel’s announcement, Mary had risen in haste to visit Elizabeth. Upon her unexpected arrival, Mary’s voice called out a greeting, and Elizabeth returned it with a prophecy.

And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord’~ Luke 1:41-45 NKJV.

What role was Elizabeth’s child going to play in this drama of the ages? As Mary witnessed the miracle of Elizabeth’s swollen belly, she marveled. It was just as Gabriel had announced.

Then Mary’s heart surged with the infilling of the Holy Spirit, and words of thankfulness and praise poured from her lips.

‘My soul magnifies the Lord,
And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant;
For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.
For He who is mighty has done great things for me,
And holy is Hisname.
And His mercy is onthose who fear Him
From generation to generation.
He has shown strength with His arm;
He has scattered the proudin the imagination of their hearts.

He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
And exalted the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
And the rich He has sent away empty.
He has helped His servant Israel,
In remembrance of His mercy,
As He spoke to our fathers,
To Abraham and to his seed forever’
~ Luke 1:46-55 NKJV.

 For three months Mary had stayed with Elizabeth, who recounted the puzzling story of how her husband Zacharias had been serving in the Temple six months earlier and had experienced some sort of angelic vision. He couldn’t relate what had happened because he had been struck mute and unable to speak. Right after that, Elizabeth had become pregnant and was rejoicing that the Lord had graciously taken away the shame of barrenness in her old age.

No one understood what had happened to Zacharias, but Mary reasoned that the silent man seemed to be at peace, waiting expectantly for the baby’s birth, no doubt.

After three months, Mary had returned home, and her belly continued to swell. She hadn’t meant to worry, but what could she and Joseph possibly offer in the way of parenting such a precious, Holy child? People continued to gossip and look down on her as time progressed. She dreaded fighting the rejection and ridicule this Child would likely face in their community. Raising Jesus would not prove easy.

Then the unexpected occurred. She heard the news of the census, which forced the couple to register in Bethlehem, as Joseph was of the house and lineage of David. She welcomed an escape from the gossip surrounding this Holy Child. Much better to give birth in a strange place where no one would question the parentage of God’s Son. Though difficult and seemingly unending, this trip proved far better than staying in Nazareth.

Road to Bethlehem by Karen Jurgens

Joseph paused at the top of a hill, halting the donkey and interrupting Mary’s thoughts. He turned around to her, eyes shining, and he ran his hand through his dusty beard. He pointed. “Look up ahead! Bethlehem. Our journey will be over soon.”

Relief and thankfulness swept through Mary. God had brought them safely to their destination. She joined hands with her husband and offered a prayer of thanksgiving. The baby in her womb kicked, and she cradled her belly. As the first contraction stabbed her, she doubled over. 

She searched Joseph’s face anxiously. “Please, let’s hurry. Time is short.” 

How Hanukkah Celebrates Jesus

How Hanukkah Celebrates Jesus by Karen Jurgens

The Hanukkah celebration isn’t just for Jews. If we look closely, we’ll find Jesus Christ, both the Jewish Messiah and Savior of the world, at its very core.

First, some history…

The significance of Hanukkah is embedded in a miracle. The second Temple was rebuilt in Jerusalem following the successful Maccabean revolt against the Greco-Seleucid Empire. The Jews expelled these pagans, after which the Jews purified the Temple. During this Feast of Dedication, eight menorah candles were lighted, one for each day. The flames required sacred olive oil, but there was only enough oil to last one day. In spite of the impossible circumstances, the flames miraculously burned all eight days.

Today, Jews celebrate this minor religious holiday not only to remember this miracle but also to commemorate the victory God gave to Jewish freedom fighters, the Maccabees, in 139 B.C.

Jesus celebrated Hanukkah…

The gospel of John gives us the only account of Jesus during Hanukkah, also called the Feast of Dedication. In John 10, we find Jesus walking in the Temple along Solomon’s porch.

Then the Jews surrounded Him and said to Him, ‘How long do You keep us in doubt? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly’ ~ John 10:24 NKJV.

This group of unbelievers (much like a lynching mob) didn’t want the truth—they had already decided Jesus was a blasphemer, and they only wanted His words to legally condemn Him. But Jesus responded with a clever answer.

Jesus answered them, ‘I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me.  But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.  And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.  My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.  I and My Father are one’ ~ John 10:25-30.

Then the Jews took up stones to kill Jesus, claiming their right to do so since He had made Himself equal with God, a sin in Jewish law punishable by death. But Jesus proved His deity another way.

If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him ~ John 10:37-38. 

This mob refused to believe Jesus’s miraculous works, which proved His supernatural identity. Instead of waiting for them to cast their stones, Jesus slipped away and withdrew to the region of the Jordan.

But isn’t it ironic that just as the Maccabees had driven unbelievers out of the Jewish Temple, now unbelievers were driving out the Son of God from that very Temple?

Jesus’s true identity…

Jesus claimed to be the light of the world.

He [John] was not that Light but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world ~ John 1:8-9.

Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness but have the light of life’ ~ John 8:12.

‘As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world ~ John 9:5.

What does Jesus, the light of the world, have in common with this Festival of Lights, beginning at sundown on December 2, 2018, and concluding December 10th?

The symbol of lights comes from the lighted menorah candles, which burn for eight days and nights. As Hanukkah’s candles light Jewish homes, so Jesus lights the lives of believers.

God created our spirits with a God-shaped vacuum that only He can fill. When we’re born again, the war against unbelief is won, expelled from our hearts. Then our spirit’s “temple” is purified by the blood of the Lamb shed at the cross. The Holy Spirit fills our spiritual “menorah” with His sacred oil and ignites our hearts with the flame of belief. We shine with the eternal light of Jesus living within us, as a lighted lamp for the world to see.

The lamp of the body…

The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light’ ~ Matthew 6:22.

You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven’ ~ Matthew 5:14-16.

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light ~ Ephesians 5:8.

Final Thoughts…

God provides several prototypes of the miraculous advent of Messiah in the Old Testament. Jewish believers will understand how Jesus shines through the eight candles of the Hanukkah miracle, but now it’s time that Christians also discover this truth. Judaism and Christianity fit together like a hand in a glove.

As we come into this season of Christmas, let’s remember that the light of God came into the world through the birth of His Son, Jesus. May we rejoice, as did the shepherds that Holy Night, in the salvation message the angels brought to earth, announcing that a Savior had been born in Bethlehem.

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: ‘Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!’ ~ Luke 2:8-14.

May our eternal spiritual menorahs burn brightly. May all the world see the light of Jesus, our Messiah, shine through our lives. 

Wishing you all a Happy Hanukkah and a Merry Christmas!

Feasting on the Fruit of the Spirit

Feasting on the Fruit of the Spirit by Karen Jurgens

Thanksgiving Day is just around the corner. Some people will enjoy a meal out, while others will be guests at another’s table. Perhaps some will prepare a dish to take, while others may be hosting the entire family, like me.

Wherever we take our places at the table this year, it’s always a special time to pause and reflect on our blessings over the past year.

As we feast on traditional or not-so-traditional dishes, let’s also feast on some “delicious” scriptures—specifically, the nine fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Here is a list of my favorite Bible verses, from both the Old and New Testament—one for each spiritual fruit (all taken from the New American Standard Version).

LOVE: For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16).

 JOY: These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full (John 15:11).

 PEACE: And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7).

 PATIENCE: And so, having patiently waited, he obtained the promise (Hebrews 6:15).

 KINDNESS: Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? (Romans 2:4).

 GOODNESS: Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever (Psalms 23:6).

 FAITHFULNESS: They are new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness (Lamentations 3:23).

 GENTLENESS: Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS (Matthew 11:29).

 SELF-CONTROL: And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:2).

Now it’s your turn … what are your favorite verses we can feast on today?

 

Unjustly Accused: The Story of Joseph

Unjustly Accused by Karen Jurgens

Joseph’s story, although thousands of years old, could be a headline in today’s news: Powerful government official accused of sexual assault.

When Pharaoh ruled Egypt, laws didn’t defend the innocent until proven guilty. (In fact, countries whose laws do defend the innocent aren’t plentiful, even today.)  So, no surprise about the instant condemnation that swiftly followed when Potiphar’s wife held up Joseph’s garment and screamed, “Guilty!”  That innocent man landed in prison for years due to her lie of revenge, all because he refused her advances of seduction.

Unjustly Accused by Karen Jurgens

However, God was weaving a plan for Joseph’s life, and this unjust accusation was only one of many threads. Not only did God intend to deliver Joseph from prison and reunite him with his family, but He also planned to use him to deliver the nations from a coming famine.

How did God work this out?

 

Unjustly Accused by Karen Jurgens

Although doomed to serve out an unjust sentence, Joseph found favor with the keeper of the prison and immediately was given charge of all the prisoners. After a passage of time, Joseph met Pharaoh’s baker and butler, who had both been thrown into jail for insulting their master.

One night they each had a troubling dream and asked Joseph to interpret its meaning. Three days later the baker was hanged, but the butler was reinstated into Pharaoh’s service, just as Joseph had prophesied. As the butler was released, Joseph pleaded with him to ask Pharaoh to free him from his own unjust prison sentence.

Unjustly Accused by Karen Jurgens

Time passed. The butler forgot all about Joseph until two years later when Pharaoh dreamed two strange dreams on the same night. As no one in Egypt had the wisdom to interpret it, the butler finally remembered Joseph and advised his master.  Immediately Joseph shaved, donned clean clothes, and came into Pharaoh’s presence.

Unjustly Accused by Karen Jurgens

And Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘I have had a dream, and there is no one who can interpret it. But I have heard it said of you that you can understand a dream, to interpret it.’  So Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, ‘It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh an answer of peace’ ~ Genesis 41:15-16 NKJV.

After hearing the dreams, Joseph declared that both had the same meaning and gave the following interpretation:

 God has shown Pharaoh what He is about to do.  Indeed seven years of great plenty will come throughout all the land of Egypt; but after them seven years of famine will arise, and all the plenty will be forgotten in the land of Egypt; and the famine will deplete the land so the plenty will not be known in the land because of the famine following, for it will be very severe.  And the dream was repeated to Pharaoh twice because the thing is established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass ~ Genesis 41: 28-32 NKJV.

 Not only did God give wisdom to Joseph to correctly interpret those dreams, but He also gave him a plan for how to avert the coming disaster. When Pharaoh recognized that Joseph was discerning and wise, he set him over the land of Egypt as the second-in-command. Joseph saved one-fifth of all the bountiful Egyptian grain for seven years to offset the future years of famine.

But that wasn’t the end of the story. After his brothers happened to come to Egypt from Canaan to buy grain, God brought Joseph’s dreams to pass when his brothers bowed before him—the very dreams from his youth that had turned his jealous brothers against him.

Unjustly Accused by Karen Jurgens

Now Joseph had a dream, and he told it to his brothers; and they hated him even more.  So he said to them, ‘Please hear this dream which I have dreamed:  There we were, binding sheaves in the field. Then behold, my sheaf arose and also stood upright; and indeed your sheaves stood all around and bowed down to my sheaf.’

 And his brothers said to him, ‘Shall you indeed reign over us? Or shall you indeed have dominion over us?’ So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words.

 Then he dreamed still another dream and told it to his brothers, and said, ‘Look, I have dreamed another dream. And this time, the sun, the moon, and the eleven stars bowed down to me’ ~ Genesis 37:5-9 NKJV.

Now Joseph was governor over the land; and it was he who sold to all the people of the land. And Joseph’s brothers came and bowed down before him with their faces to the earth…Then Joseph remembered the dreams which he had dreamed about them… ~ Genesis 42: 6, 9a NKJV.

The Takeaway

Joseph had a blessed ending in spite of his trial of unjust accusation. In addition to saving Egypt from starvation, he lived as an Egyptian ruler with a wife and children. His brothers and father moved to Goshen where Pharaoh gave them land for herding sheep.

God blessed Joseph and his family with rich abundance. But doesn’t it also make you wonder whatever happened to Potiphar’s wife? We’ll never know.

If we’re ever falsely accused, let’s remember Joseph’s story and be encouraged. God is always working to deliver us from our enemies and their lies. Let’s live by our faith and in obedience to God. At the perfect time, Almighty God will deliver us from our situation of suffering and promote us to live a blessed and peaceful life.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord
Forever ~ Psalm 23: 5-6.

Have you experienced God’s blessings through an unjust accusation?

 

 

 

Unjustly Accused: The Story of Job

Unjustly Accused by Karen Jurgens

Have you ever been unjustly accused? The story of Job brings us a behind-the-scenes-fly-on-the-wall view into God’s throne room. Let’s see how Job’s ancient story brings wisdom and understanding into our lives today.

There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil ~ Job 1:1 NKJV.

Why do bad things happen to good people?

We’re all familiar with this common complaint. To fully understand the reasons, let’s investigate Job’s story from God’s perspective.

According to Revelation 12:10, Satan is the accuser of the brethren. In the second chapter of Job, Satan brought accusation against Job after God pointed out Job’s godly character.

Then the Lord said to Satan, ‘Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?’ So Satan answered the Lord and said, ‘Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!’ And the Lord said to Satan, ‘Behold, all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on his person’ ~ Job 1:8-12 NKJV.

Isn’t it interesting that Satan accused Job of serving God for the material benefits and spiritual blessings? It’s a safe bet that he also unjustly accuses every righteous believer before God.

Satan is the source of all unjust accusations.

Let’s switch back to Job’s perspective. In round one, Job suffered incredibly, losing his children, his flocks, and many of his servants. But he won that round, to Satan’s dismay. Through it all, Job didn’t blame God.

Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped.  And he said: ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord’ ~ Job 1:20-21 NKJV.

As we again turn into a fly-on-the-wall in heaven, we hear God declare victory for His servant Job against the accuser.

Then the Lord said to Satan, ‘Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil? And still he holds fast to his integrity, although you incited Me against him, to destroy him without cause.’ So Satan answered the Lord and said, ‘Skin for skin! Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life. But stretch out Your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will surely curse You to Your face!’ And the Lord said to Satan, ‘Behold, he is in your hand, but spare his life’ ~ Job 2:3-6 NKJV.

Now Job stepped into round two of his testing. Satan smote him with sore boils from the crown of his head to the soles of his feet. From his wife to his three friends, Job heard no words of sympathy or consolation. Instead, his wife told him to curse God and die. His friends accused him of hidden sins for which he was being punished. But through it all, Job held fast to his integrity and didn’t sin with his lips. Instead, he said, Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity? ~ Job 2:10b NKJV.

Unjustly Accused by Karen Jurgens

Keep on walking through the fire

Have there been times in your life when you feel like you’ve been tossed into a fiery furnace? You may feel God has forgotten you because He hasn’t come to your rescue. Your trial, undeserved, continues without relief or an end in sight. Are you tempted to walk away from God, convinced that the Christian life simply “doesn’t work?”

Just think—if Job’s faith had failed and he had quit believing, he would have missed the most amazing part of his journey.

A surprise meeting

Just when Job had reached the climax of his suffering and every “why” question possible had been voiced, God Himself showed up. What a meeting! God did the admonishing while Job did the listening.

Pause to read Job 38-41 and be amazed as God reveals His true character and sovereignty. We gain glimpses into the mysteries of God found nowhere else in the Bible. And we also come away, like Job, with a new sense of awe and reverence for the Lord’s wisdom, love, and power—spanning all His creation including our individual lives.

 Then Job answered the Lord and said: ‘I know that You can do everything,
And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You. You asked, “Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?” Therefore, I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. Listen, please, and let me speak; You said, “I will question you, and you shall answer Me.” ‘I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You. Therefore, I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes’ ~
Job 42:1-6 NKJV.

What is our takeaway?

First, Satan is every Christian’s accuser before God. If you belong to Jesus, you will be tested, but only by the permission and within the boundaries of God’s will. Satan cannot destroy you because God doesn’t allow it. God’s in control, we don’t have to fear.

Second, Job endured his suffering without blaming God. He may have cursed the day of his birth, but never God. He continued to praise and worship the Lord throughout his trials.

Third, Job asked honest questions and sought wisdom and understanding from God. He instructed his friends by quoting scripture from Psalm 111:10: ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to depart from evil is understanding’ ~ Job 28:28 NKJV. Seek God’s wisdom, discernment, understanding, and knowledge as you travel rocky paths.

Fourth, God answered Job by personally showing up. Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said: ‘Who is this who darkens counsel by words without knowledge?  Now prepare yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer Me’ ~ Job 38:1-3 NKJV.

Today God still shows up personally. He comes to us through the power of His Holy Spirit which dwells inside the spirit of every believer. His spirit witnesses to ours that we are His children. Through prayer, praise, and worship, we commune with our Lord. Be still in His presence and listen for His still, small voice.

Unjustly Accused by Karen Jurgens

Last, Job was blessed more at the end of his life than at the beginning.

 And the Lord restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before. Then all his brothers, all his sisters, and all those who had been his acquaintances before, came to him and ate food with him in his house; and they consoled him and comforted him for all the adversity that the Lord had brought upon him. Each one gave him a piece of silver and each a ring of gold. Now the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning; for he had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, one thousand yoke of oxen, and one thousand female donkeys. He also had seven sons and three daughters. After this Job lived one hundred and forty years and saw his children and grandchildren for four generations.  So Job died, old and full of days ~ Job 42:10-13, 16-17 NKJV.

What vast rewards and blessings God brought to Job! The Lord is full of great mercies and compassion. His love never fails.

Have you been unjustly accused? Don’t despair. Satan is under our feet and has been defeated by Jesus at the cross. God’s got this! Remember, on the other side of every trial is great victory.

Can you share a story of being unjustly accused?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Rosh Hashanah

 

Happy Rosh Hashanah by Karen Jurgens

‘And in the seventh month, on the first day of the month, ye shall have an holy convocation; ye shall do no servile work: it is a day of blowing the trumpets unto you’ ~ Numbers 29:1 KJV.

Happy Rosh Hashanah! This day of the Jewish New Year (5779) is also referred to as Feast of Trumpets. A shofar blast signals its beginning and Yom Kippur its end. This celebration is referred to in the Jewish community as the “Days of Awe.” It also marks the sixth day of creation when God created man on Mount Moriah.

Right now Jewish people are taking this time to repent of all known sin and to restore broken relationships.

Do you see a connection to Christianity? Through the blood and resurrection of Christ, all men have access to salvation through repentance and belief in Jesus.

For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation ~ Romans 10:10 KJV.

We are also instructed to be at peace with all men.

If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men ~ Romans 12:18 KJV.

Additionally, hearing the shofar is vitally important. Christianity teaches that this sound precedes the Rapture at the time Jesus returns for His church.

Happy Rosh Hashanah by Karen Jurgens

For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:

Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord ~ 1Thesselonians 4: 16-17 KJV.

And

Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,

 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality ~ 1 Corinthians 15: 51-53 KJV.

From the Jewish perspective, I’d like to share a summary about this day, taken from The Temple Institute:

” ‘And in the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a holy convocation: you shall do no manner of servile work; it is a day of blowing the horn unto you. And you shall prepare a burnt-offering for a sweet savour unto the L-rd: one young bullock, one ram, seven he-lambs of the first year without blemish; and their meal-offering, fine flour mingled with oil, three tenth parts for the bullock, two tenth part for the ram, and one tenth part for every lamb of the seven lambs; and one he-goat for a sin-offering, to make atonement for you; beside the burnt-offering of the new moon, and the meal-offering thereof, and the continual burnt-offering and the meal-offering thereof, and their drink-offerings, according unto their ordinance, for a sweet savour, an offering made by fire unto the L-rd.’ (Numbers 29:1-6)

Our sages teach us that Rosh Hashana marks the sixth day of creation, the day that adam harishon – the first man – was created. The particular place was none other than what would come to be known as Mount Moriah. We further learn that it was on this very spot that Adam first sinned and repented. Here he built an altar and presented an offering. Some twenty generations later it was here that the angel stayed the hand of Abraham at the binding of Isaac. It ws here that the ram appeared, providing Abraham with the means through which to express his love for G-d.

Rosh Hashana is the day that we recognize the sovereignty of G-d the King, Creator of the universe and Judge of all mankind. The day on which “all beings pass before Him like tender sheep,” Rosh Hashana’s message is truly universal: it is incumbent upon all mankind to accept upon ourselves G-d’s sovereignty, and to take account of our thoughts and actions, in light of this awesome recognition.

The trumpets sounded before the entrance to the Kodesh – the Sanctuary – of the Holy Temple on Rosh Hashana are reminders of G-d’s dominion. The sound of the shofar – likewise blown on the Sanctuary steps, eminates from breath itself, the breath that comes from deep within us, where it was placed, for the first time, by G-d, in Adam, on the sixth day. ” (https://www.templeinstitute.org/rosh_hashana/introduction.htm)

Studying the Jewish Feast Days completes and deepens our understanding of the Scriptures. The Old Testament mirrors the New Testament, fitting together perfectly. Isn’t it fascinating?

To learn more, go to https://www.templeinstitute.org/events.htm.

Shana Tova!

 

Forks on the Road of Life

For the ways of a man are before the eyes of the Lord,
And He watches all his paths
~ Proverbs 5:21 NASB.

Seeking God’s perfect will for our lives can be a perplexing experience. When there are several choices, how can we know for certain which one to choose? It’s like coming to forks in the yellow brick road of life, each one appearing to lead to Emerald City.

Forks on the Road of Life by Karen Jurgens

Remember Dorothy and Toto? They made three friends along the way, but they also encountered witches and flying monkeys. Just when it appeared that Dorothy would become the wicked witch’s prisoner and lose her ruby slippers forever, her fate changed after she doused the witch with a bucket of water. Although Dorothy had no idea it would kill her enemy, it turned out to be the only way to destroy the witch. What dumb luck.

Our lives, however, aren’t based on a fairy tale with a lucky ending like Dorothy’s. But we do have a good God who guides us down the paths of life, directing us away from evil and keeping us on the straight and narrow, even granting us our heart’s desire as we obediently submit to Him.

But how do we know which path to choose when we encounter forks in the road?

Forks on the Road of Life by Karen Jurgens

My daughter Meg recently experienced this dilemma. After working as a long-term substitute teacher last year, she had applied and interviewed for a science position in the district’s intermediate school. Teaching there had been her heart’s desire from day one.

However, she didn’t throw in the towel after she found out she didn’t get the job. She continued to pray and speak words of faith, confessing that she believed she would still get hired last minute for her dream job at her dream school.

Personally, I viewed her situation with realistic skepticism and pushed her to apply to other districts. I truly believed her vocational opportunities lay elsewhere.

As she prayed for God’s will, several offers came along, making the choice difficult. Should she simply choose the one that paid the best salary in the public arena? Or should she work with like-minded Christians in a private environment? While the Lord uses us wherever we’re planted, it’s still vital to be in the proper place.

All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight,
But the Lord weighs the motives
~ Proverbs 16:2 NASB.

Usually, money is our biggest motivator, but we must remember to weigh all sides. Looking beyond our worldly needs may be difficult and considered foolish by some, but God’s ways are contrary to the ways of the world. Keeping this in mind, Meg chose the job in the Christian school with the lowest salary. She released and surrendered her dream job to the Lord.

Forks on the Road of Life by Karen Jurgens

But then, God had a better plan. A few days later, she received an email from the new principal at her dream school inviting her to interview for the same science position. Long story short, he offered her the job and she accepted. The Christian school graciously released her and found an immediate replacement for their kindergarteners.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts ~ Isaiah 55:9 KJV.

Meg’s journey of pure-hearted obedience and speaking words of faith have been a good lesson to me. Watching the Lord give her the exact right job for her talents in the right school has been nothing short of amazing. Even when making those previous choices, the Lord knew they weren’t final. God had something far better at the last minute. And He gave her the most precious gift: her heart’s desire.

 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! ~ Romans 11:33 NASB.

How about you? Are you encountering forks on your road of life?  I’d be honored to pray with you to find God’s perfect will and receive the desire of your heart. Just leave your request in the comment box.

Blessings!

 

 

 

 

Under Spiritual Attack

Under Spiritual Attack by Karen Jurgens

Have you ever been under spiritual attack?

The last three months have been some of the hardest times I can remember. It began with weird harbingers like accidentally grinding up my pearl earring in the garbage disposal (don’t even ask). Next, I broke off a tooth biting into a pretzel. After a few more bizarre “accidents,” a thought crossed my mind. Might I be under a spiritual attack?

Yes, I was. But then the attack spread to other family members. The worst began on April 20th when my mother saw something black hanging in her side vision. That led to emergency surgery to repair a detached retina.

Everything should have been fine with a happily-ever-after ending…BUT. That small, three-letter conjunction changed our lives and spiraled us into a Kansas tornado lasting over three months.

The problem? A viral infection appeared in Mother’s eye a week after surgery. The prescribed eye drops didn’t seem to work, even after several weeks of applications.

To make matters worse, black streaks reappeared in Mother’s side vision, indicating a second retinal detachment. When her doctor planned to do a second surgery despite the worsening virus, I knew I had to find another doctor and a second opinion. Quickly. Thank God I did, or otherwise, she would have surely gone blind in that eye…BUT.

God led us to the right doctors who diagnosed her infection correctly and began treating it aggressively. After several weeks, her new surgeon was able to do major surgery. He had to remove fluid from the back of the eye cavity that was beginning to cave in and then reattach the retina. We held our breath and prayed.

The operation was a success, thank the Lord, and everything was back in place. We were rejoicing! God had come through again, and all Mother had to do was heal…BUT.

Without explanation or reason, she developed unbearable pain on that side of her head, like a severe migraine. I can’t express how frightening it was to care for an elderly person in that physical state. I felt completely helpless. As her eye swelled closed, she couldn’t eat, take her medication, or get out of bed. I had to get help.

Under Spiritual Attack by Karen Jurgens

So off we went to the ER at a local hospital. Not only did we go that day, but also the second day after. Her blood pressure was sky-high, as well as the pressure in her eye. After aggressively lowering her pressure, an ER doctor decided to treat her pain with opioids.

What a mistake.

Under Spiritual Attack by Karen Jurgens

As a person who has never taken drugs stronger than Tylenol, I had no idea of the effects she would experience. I assumed her pain would be eased and she would be able to sleep…BUT.

After arriving home from the ER, I seated her at the table for dinner, but she was only able to eat a few bites. Since she sat peacefully with her eyes closed, I decided to wash the dishes before helping her back to bed. Before I could finish, however, it became apparent that something was wrong.

She had lost consciousness and was having a petit mal seizure. She had experienced a few in the past, so I was familiar with the symptoms. I sat next to her, all the while talking and trying to get her to come back to consciousness. When thirty minutes had passed and she was no better, I prayed earnestly to Jesus for help. After another thirty minutes with no change, I didn’t know what to do.  There was no way I could carry her back to bed. Would I need to call an ambulance? I was desperate.

Suddenly her lips began to move. I listened carefully as she whispered, “I see Jesus.”

At first, I was elated! But the next second, fear gripped me—was Jesus coming to take her to heaven? Was she going to die? Oh no. Jesus couldn’t take her. Not yet. It wasn’t her time.

I sloughed off fear and clung to my faith that all would be well. Sensing that this was a holy spiritual encounter with the Lord, I asked, “Did Jesus speak to you?”

She could barely respond. “No. He touched my shoulder.”

Wow. A healing touch from Jesus. I could sense His very presence in the room as she grew quiet and peaceful, and her seizure ended. My knees hit the floor.

Right then I led us in a time of prayer and praise songs, thanking Jesus for touching her. I was awed to witness His glory, and tears flowed as I basked in His holy presence.

Soon Mother’s eyes opened, and she was able to walk back to bed with my help. She talked about Jesus, especially His face, describing Him as a young man in his thirties with brown hair, dark eyes, and a perfectly clipped goatee.

 

Under Spiritual Attack by Karen Jurgens

 

I imagine you’re wondering like I did, if she really had a vision of Jesus or if it was a hallucination.

I’m convinced she saw the Lord. I believe Jesus came and touched her that night because of her steady improvement after that encounter. Her migraine and the swelling of her eye dissipated within a few days and totally disappeared.

Today her eyesight is returning steadily each day, and we know it is being perfectly restored. Her eyes are focusing together—something that has surprised her doctor, who had predicted she would probably never see much out of it again. Her strength has returned and she is again active and enjoying her life.

BUT God!

What was the key for my mother? I believe several things played a part in her healing.

First, prayer and communion. My daughters and I anointed her with oil, took communion together, and prayed over her daily.

Second, speaking to the illness or affliction. We prayed Scripture over her circumstance, speaking to her eye and every cell to be healed and made whole in Jesus’s mighty Name.

Third, understanding spiritual warfare and how to pray against the attacks of the enemy, which is vital in these last days.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places ~ Ephesians 6:12 NKJV.

In Jesus’s Name, we bound up the ruler of darkness, Belial, another name for Satan or the Lord of Lies, and cast him into the pit.

What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? ~ 2 Corinthians 6:15 NIV.

Another factor is my mother’s personal life. She has lived a life of obedience, holiness, and humility and has always walked softly before the Lord. She especially has compassion for the poor and helpless, and she never passes a beggar on the street without rolling down the car window and giving money.

Psalm 41: 1-3 promises:

Blessed is he who considers the poor;
The Lord will deliver him in time of trouble.

 The Lord will preserve him and keep him alive,
And he will be blessed on the earth;
You will not deliver him to the will of his enemies.

The Lord will strengthen him on his bed of illness;
You will sustain him on his sickbed (NASB).

How amazing that God graciously performed these promises in Psalm 41 over Mother’s life.

Did you know the enemy attacks God’s anointed ones, especially when something glorious is just around the corner? Whenever you’re under attack, rejoice!

Under Spiritual Attack by Karen Jurgens

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance and let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing ~ James 1:2-4 NASB.

AND

He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed ~ 1 Peter 2:24 NASB.

Do you have a physical illness or affliction that you’re asking the Lord to heal? He is no respecter of persons. Jesus is waiting for you to ask and tells us:

 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” ~ Matthew 7:7 NKJV.

Be encouraged in your suffering. There is an end because we have a merciful, loving heavenly Father.

We count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful ~ James 5:11 NASB.

Are you experiencing a spiritual attack of the enemy? I would be honored to pray for you. If you fill in the comment box with your request, I will agree with you for your healing.

Abundant love and blessings!

Under Spiritual Attack by Karen Jurgens