He can fill your need!

My mom gifted me this week with a necklace that has a little silver pitcher attached. The first thing I thought of as I saw it, was the story of the empty vessels in 2 Kings 4, which I once wrote about here.

My mom was reminded of the passage in 1 Corinthians 3:7-9, where Paul says that some plant the seeds, others water them and God is the one who brings about the increase.

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you probably noticed how the topic of a vessel is a recurring theme here. And for a good reason. There is much to say about it. 

This necklace is a reminder that just like when you water a plant, you don’t always see how it grows and the changes within. You need to be patient and continue to water it regularly remembering that God is the one that makes it grow. 

Sometimes, working with people, we may feel we’ve poured out everything we have, we’ve given everything we had to give. That is when, as an empty vessel, we need to come to God to fill us up. 

Are you feeling empty, tired, frustrated or facing a problem that you don’t seem to be able to deal with? Come to the fountain of living water and give it to God as an empty vessel. Let Him fill you and your situation, so that what you pour out may be a sweet savor unto Him. I needed that reminder today and pray that you are encouraged by it too.

© Hannah Kramer

Breaking Down the Catch-Phrases

I have come to realize recently how much believers use catch-phrases. We share them as memes, as pretty pictures on Facebook or simply as quotes on WhatsApp. If someone sends a catch-phrase to us, we might even go “Yes! Amen! How true!” and so forth. We may be very well-intentioned as we do that.  But do we ever stop to consider what these expressions really mean and what we really think about them?

Let’s stop for a moment and contemplate the meaning of just a few of these catch-phrases and examine them in light of God’s Word. I’m not saying all of them are wrong. Some, in fact, hold very encouraging truths. But when we just go “Amen” for every one without thinking about it, even how it affects us or applies to our lives, our thoughts tend to revolve around the catch-phrase and not around the Bible. I’m sure we can all come up with an example or two, in the different areas of our lives. 

You’ve probably heard things like – 

“Waiting for God to show up.”

“God did it again.”

“Our hearts should break over what breaks God’s heart”.

Or in things related to marriage – 

“A woman’s heart should be so hidden in Christ, so that a man should seek HIM first to find it.”

“Looking for a Boaz/Looking for a Ruth”

“Looking for a proverbs 31 woman!”

And so forth.

We can delve into each of these in a separate post. I certainly have done my share of using catch-phrases or thinking along the lines of some of them. However, I have come to realise that some of them not only aren’t true, but are un-Biblical expressions. For example: “Waiting for God to show up.” That is an un-Biblical statement. God is always present. The question is whether we are aware of His presence or acknowledge it. Just because we don’t always have things done our way or get the outcome we want, doesn’t mean God isn’t there or that He is not in control. We need to be careful not to turn God into a puppet, where our wish is His command. The same is true for “God did it again!” So God did it only if it’s the way we expect it to be done? He is in control and loves us, so He does what is best for us, not what we want. He deals with us according to our needs, not our greeds (also a catch-phrase).

“Our hearts should break over what breaks God’s heart!” – Are we really ready for God to purge out of hearts those things that break His heart? God is holy and we have a long way to go to fully understand what it takes to conform our hearts and minds to His holiness. Do our hearts break over the evil all around us? Our considerations of what is evil and what is impure fall far short of His. Do we REALLY desire for God to break our hearts over all of the sins in the world that break His heart? He is too holy to even look upon sin. Do we indulge ourselves in it and try to justify why our standard is better than His? Or is this just another nice catch-phrase in a song or part of our daily communications with one another in an effort to display holiness?

What about “Looking for a Boaz/Looking for a Ruth” or “Looking for a Proverbs 31 woman”? What do we mean by those statements? Do we really think that there is another Biblical Boaz or Ruth somewhere “out there”? There was only one Boaz and only one Ruth. The Proverbs 31 woman is not Mrs. Lemuel, but a description of an ideal woman, whose characteristics are to be aspired to. Can we desire and pray for our spouses to be like Boaz, like Ruth, like the woman described in Proverbs 31? Absolutely! We can pray that our spouses be like them – people who are first and foremost, born again and who love the Lord with all their heart. We need to have a correct understanding of what it means to fear the Lord – to have an awesome reverence for Him. If we draw closer to the Lord, He will draw closer to us. We will develop a love for His Word and a desire to study it to show ourselves approved and able to rightly divide the Word of Truth. We need to cultivate a Godly work ethic and encourage our spouses in the areas of their involvements, to encourage them in the Lord and to build them up, without using catch-phrases and, certainly, not those that are un-Biblical.

There is so much more to say about this matter. We use words to communicate, but words have meanings and we should consider them before we join the masses and use meaningless catch-phrases. May God grant us wisdom to discern “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, [that our minds might] dwell on these things” (Philippians 4:8). If we do, our expressions will be more Biblically based.

© Hannah Kramer

Raise them up Lord, raise them up

A teenager recently wrote me to ask about a certain television series to see what I thought. The teenager sent me a summary of the plot that was set in the far east and included using supernatural powers using the mind.

I suggested the teenager look at the terms mentioned and examine whether this is something that should be watched and if God has anything to say in His Word about these issues. That is when the teenager revealed she had already seen the series and while the plot and character development were good, there were things like witchcraft, spirits and use of elements which she knew were wrong. However, she wasn’t sure if it was still “good to watch”.

What she related made me rather sad. Many series and movies, in recent years especially, have introduced children to the spiritual world in the cover of action movies and superheroes, presenting it as something which not only is cool and fun, but also good. This reminds me of the verse “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter” (Isaiah 5:20). Some might say, “well, what’s the problem? We can’t isolate ourselves, if we examine everything we won’t watch anything at all”. Or, some might say, “all is permissible”.

Is it so bad if we don’t watch anything? If there is nothing good to eat, if all that is presented to us on the table is poison, do we still eat for the sake of eating? If all that is presented to us on television (or video games) is death, witchcraft, profanity and sex, do we still watch because there is nothing else to watch? 

Is it really “all permissible”? We are called to be a light in this dark and evil world. Sadly, there is little to no difference anymore between the body of Messiah and the world. When people in the world look at us, do they see we are different or do they accept us gladly into their company because we are just like them? 

I know not many will agree with this. Some will view this as being legalistic or overreacting. But if Paul was “deeply disturbed in his spirit” (Acts 17:16) when he saw the city full of idols in Athens, why aren’t we deeply disturbed when we see witchcraft and presentations of the spiritual world on the screen, calling that which is evil in God’s sight, good? How is that any different from seeing actual idols on the street? Have our senses become numbed? Have we become lukewarm in our behaviour? Have we compromised on the truth of God’s Word? 

Some simply don’t realise how great the spiritual struggle is for our children. The world is fighting for our children, the enemy is fighting to dull their senses and ours, to pull us all away from the Lord Yeshua. We need to fight for our children as well as for ourselves.

In studying the Life of Yeshua the Messiah, this verse had a great impact on me and perhaps we can pray this for our youth. “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52). Let’s pray they find favor in God’s eyes as well as man’s. But let’s pray this as well “For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10).

“Lord, we need a generation of believers who are not ashamed of the gospel. We need an army of believers who hate to be lukewarm and will stand on Your Word above all else. Raise ’em up, Lord. Raise them up.” (War Room Movie)

© Hannah Kramer

Piercing a Mother’s Heart – A Story

“Years ago, I was told it would happen. Shortly after He was born. I didn’t understand it then and it’s hard for me to understand it now,” she thought to herself in the midst of her seemingly endless flow of tears.

It was a pain the likes of which she never felt before – sharp and piercing, as though a sword had gone through her. “My son, my son”, she cried, as she looked up at Yeshua, nailed to a cross, blood flowing from His head, His arms, His face. She could hardly recognize Him, and seeing the son of her womb in His present condition, was unbearable. “Aunt Miriam”, John called out, as he grabbed hold of her to prevent her from falling to the ground. 

A lifetime passed in a moment. Thirty three years earlier, Miriam was taking care of things around the house and preparing things in anticipation of her upcoming marriage to Joseph. “Joseph should arrive later today to visit, maybe I’ll prepare his favorite meal as a surprise, he’s working so hard…”. Suddenly, Miriam heard someone calling her name. She thought everyone in the family had gone out and didn’t expect anyone to come. When she turned and saw him standing there, his appearance so bright and radiant. She wasn’t scared, she had a sense of heavenly peace as she looked at the person speaking to her. “An angel!” She never saw an angel before, but there was no doubt, one was now in her home and talking to her. As Miriam listened to the words of the angel, she felt an increasing joy well up within her accompanied by an expectation to know more. “But, how will this be?” As the angel explained everything to her, all Miriam could think of was “I am the Lord’s servant, may your will be done as you speak”, and that was all she said. She thought her heart would burst from excitement and joy.

“Wow, I can’t wait to tell Joseph. What will he say, what will he think? God, I trust you in this matter, please let Joseph believe me and give him the joy and expectancy for this wonderful news”. 

Miriam began to prepare dinner, but all she could think about what the presence of the angel and what he said to her. She still can’t believe it. When Joseph arrived, her excitement bubbled over. “Joseph! I am So happy to see you!” Miriam ran to him and cupped his hands in hers. Joseph had a puzzled look on his face, wondering what all the excitement was about. “My dear Miriam, I am so happy to be here too,” Joseph said lovingly as he looked at his young fiancée. “Is that what I think it is?” Joseph asked as he drew near to the kitchen table. He smiled as he saw his favorite meal, and smelled the spices. “Oh…yes, it is”, said Miriam. “You work so hard and I wanted to encourage you today”. Joseph washed his hands and sat down to eat, but he hardly took a bite when Miriam began sharing her news. “What?!” Joseph said, staring at her, trying to understand what she was saying. “But, Miriam, how? OK, I heard what you said, but really?” Joseph had a hard time believing her. His mind started to race. “She couldn’t have…could she? I thought she was faithful, that she loved me…is she telling the truth?” Miriam stood and looked at Joseph, begging with her eyes that he believe her. “I need to go home Miriam, I need time to think”. “But Joseph…” she started, “let me be, Miriam, I need time to think, to pray … to understand”.

That night Miriam sat and prayed fervently. “God, I trust you. You chose me to carry the child that the angel spoke about, but to raise him, I need Joseph with me. Please, speak to him, let him believe me. I know that if he doubts, so will others. So will my family, my sister and parents. God of Abraham, keep me in your hands and protect me, guide me”.

Miriam wasn’t the only one praying fervently that night. So was Joseph at his house. “God, she is so young, perhaps her heart was led astray? Maybe I should send her away quietly so as not to put her to shame, I still love her and this sounds so unreal”. Jospeh felt sadness as the decision began to come together to send his beloved Miriam away, so she would not be found pregnant out of marriage. 

Miriam began to feel the changes in her body. She knew she was pregnant, just like the angel said she would be. She needed to get a handle on all of this and decided to visit her relative Elisheva for three months, all the while continuing to pray that God would give Joseph a trusting spirit.

“Joseph, Joseph, fear not…” Joseph ran to Miriam’s house the morning after she returned. He had no moment to lose. “An angel appeared to me last night Miriam”, he said, “and told me everything, I am sorry I didn’t believe you. We must get married sooner than planned Miriam, I will make all the arrangements”. Miriam thanked God quietly in her heart as Joseph spoke to her, holding her hands in his with love and understanding. It seemed to her like another time, another world.

As Miriam gazed on her son hanging on the cross, she recalled these events, and remembered how she and Joseph had fled to Egypt because Herod sought to kill her son. She recalled how not long before that, shortly after giving birth to him, she and Joseph went to Jerusalem to make the sacrifices for the first born son. As she cradled her little one in her arms, stroking his cheeks and gently touching his hair, an elderly man named Simon approached them. Despite the passage of the years, she never forgot the words he said and what he told her personally, “and a sword will pierce even your own soul—to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” Miriam didn’t know what to make of it at the time, but she kept those things in her heart.

As the years went by, she saw Yeshua grow and at the age of 12, she thought she lost him somewhere in Jerusalem. But, after three days of being “missing”, he told her and Joseph that He was about his father’s business. Again, Miriam added this to the things she kept in her heart.

Miriam knew all this time, since before Yeshua’s birth, that He was special. She could accept that he is the promised Messiah. But she did not expect to see him die. What mother would?

As Yeshua began doing miracles around the land and calling His disciples, she thought, “Maybe, just maybe, now he will establish the kingdom. Oh, if only Joseph were alive to see him now. How proud Joseph was of Yeshua, how he loved him as his own”. But, just as many began to follow Him, opposition to Yeshua also started to grow. And, with the passage of only three short years since He began to minister, the Sanhedrin sought to kill her son, just as Herod did when Yeshua was just a baby. “Why won’t they listen to him? Why do they hate him?” It hurt her to see her son being rejected.

So many memories went through her mind, as she stood the entire six hours at Golgotha, watching her son, wanting to yell at those who mocked him and laughed at him. As news of Yeshua’s arrest the night before spread quickly, Miriam had no time to lose. “I must see him, I must get to him now”. She could not make it through the crowds at Pilate’s court, all she could do was stand outside and shudder as she heard people cry “Crucify him! Crucify him!” The shouts became a deafening roar. “Come, aunt, let’s get away from here”, John urged, trying to move her gently. Miriam didn’t want to leave, but she knew there was no point in staying there. 

As Yeshua was being led to the cross, she got her first sight of Him, and nearly collapsed. “My son! What have they done to my son?” He was beaten, scourged, spat upon, bleeding, he could hardly carry the wooden beam on his own from all the pain. At the side of the road where the crowd gathered, her body shook with every strike of the hammer on the nails that pierced the hands of her son. Then, one more, as the nail pierced his feet.

She couldn’t look upon Him. It was too painful. This was her son, her first born. “Woman”, she lifted her gaze as she heard His voice. She saw Yeshua talking directly to her. Her heart began to race as she listened to her son’s last words to her. “This is your son”, referring to John who stood next to her. She looked at John, who was truly like a son to her. And then they both heard Yeshua say, “This is your mother”. It was understood, John took care of her from that point on with the love of a son.

The agony and emotional pain that Miriam felt that day was as unbearable as it was indescribable. Simon’s words to her so many years earlier, which were not understood then, were understood now. An invisible sword pierced her heart just as the Roman nails pierced the flesh of her son. The pain began when she saw her son being mocked and opposed by the religious leadership and she thought she would die from the pain when she saw Yeshua on the cross. And then it was over. But, the pain remained, pain and agony that only a loving mother could feel at the death of her first-born son. “How? Why? But, the angel said …. I don’t understand. How could this be. Yeshua, Oh, my son, Yeshua. What I wouldn’t give for me to die instead of you.”

Several days later, Miriam heard from Yeshua’s disciples that He has risen from the dead. “Could this really be true?” By now, she had gone through the memories of those historic days and of her own life. She had come to realize that indeed, as she looked at Yeshua on the cross, she was looking at her son. But, she saw Him. He IS alive. Death couldn’t hold Him. And now, for the first time, she understood that this child that she delivered came to deliver her. He was her son. She will always be His mother. But, more than a son, He is now her Lord and Savior, through what He accomplished on the cross. That is how she looked upon him from that point on. Her heart was pierced by the sword when He was put to death on the Cross. But, the agony of the Cross turned to joy inexpressible, as she was given a new heart and a new life…in her son. 

© Hannah Kramer

Eyes of Compassion – A Story

Peter sat at the corner of the house, his head on his knees, arms on his head. His tears wouldn’t stop. The overwhelming sense of guilt. The Lord knew it would happen and even told him it would.

For three years he followed his Teacher – three years in which he witnessed miracles so extraordinary, so unique, so touching, that they were almost beyond belief. Blind could see, lame could walk, deaf could hear, sick were healed, dead were brought back to life. For three years he sat at the Lord’s feet. He heard Him speak with an authority that he never heard before from anyone else. He saw Him transform right before his eyes, shining brighter than snow, standing with Moses and Elijah. Oh, so many memories of that entire time now all seemed to flood his thoughts. And the more he remembered, the more he cried in anguish.

That particular night seemed to last forever. Peter really thought that he would be the one to never deny the Lord. Oh, he could fling a sword, he was prepared to die for Him. But to live for Him? To acknowledge Him before others? Peter’s mind went through the events of that night, minute by minute. The Lord was taken by so many soldiers, as if coming they were coming for a criminal and He was led to the house of the High Priest. Peter fled with the rest of the disciples, but followed Yeshua to the house. John was able to let him in. Peter watched and heard the interrogation going on inside, including the mocking, the beating, the spiting and the humiliation of the Lord. The King, whose kingdom was not of this world, was treated with less dignity than a slave. 

And then came the moment of truth when he was asked: “You were with Him, weren’t you?” “What are you talking about?” – his first denial. He thought that he can’t be found to be there; no one must know he was a disciple. “If they treat my Master this way, after all He had done…what will become of me?” Fear crept into Peter’s heart. He loved the Lord, but seeing Him now, not defending himself, not responding to the attacks, confused him. He did not understand. “You WERE with Him, you are Galilean”. Peter tried to deny again, swearing he did not know Yeshua. His second denial. “I just want to listen to what is going on inside…” he thought. A third time someone identified him as a disciple. This time, Peter cursed and denied – the third time. Suddenly, the cock crowed. Peter froze as he began to turn, almost without control, to look back inside the house. Yeshua turned His head and looked at him. Amidst all the mockery and beating, Yeshua knew exactly where to look. “Those eyes, He knows“, Peter said to himself. Remorse and anguish overwhelmed him, as he fled from the courtyard. 

Peter remembered the look in the eyes that looked at him. The more he thought of it, the more he realised those eyes were not filled with judgment or anger, but rather, compassion. Yeshua knew this would happen. 

Now, Yeshua is being led to the cross and there is nothing any of them can do. In the midst of the sorrow and anguish, Peter thought, “I must see Him, at least from afar, one last time“. He went and stood at a distance as he saw his beloved Lord carrying a cross on His bruised back, bleeding, unrecognisable from all the beatings and lashes the Romans inflicted on Him. Peter wanted to cry, but his eyes were already red from the tears shed over his own actions. He watched and followed, as they led Yeshua to the cross. There, he saw Miriam, Yeshua’s mother weeping, falling to the ground at the sight of her son, as the nails were driven into His hands and legs. “No mother should see her son die, not like this”, he thought. Emotions were raging inside of Peter, he felt as if he were in a dream, not being able to wake up. Suddenly, the sky went dark and people began to panic. He looked and saw a centurion thrust a spear into Yeshua’s side. That was more than Peter could bare to watch. He was broken. He was overwhelmed. He fled the scene.

A few days later, as he met with the rest of the disciples, no one mentioned what happened. They all knew. They had all heard Yeshua say it would happen. The pain they were all feeling was enormous, as if a member of their own family had died. Peter was beyond being comforted, as guilt lay heavily on his heart. Then there was a commotion and women shouting, “We saw Him! We saw the Lord!” The disciples were startled as a few women came bursting in the room, claiming to have seen the Lord. “He is alive, Yeshua is alive, just like He said!” Peter’s mind was racing. He quickly got up, John along with him and they ran towards the tomb where Yeshua was placed. Peter ran like never before, but John outran him. They made it to the tomb and it was empty, just like the women said. “He’s alive!” Peter tried to think. “What will He say to me? What will I say to Him? How can I face Him again after what I’ve done?”

A short time passed and the disciples were back in Galilee, fishing again, after more than three years of not fishing. It was hard work, but one that Peter enjoyed and gave him some peace. “Look to the shore!” someone yelled. Peter looked up along with the disciples. “It’s Yeshua!” Immediately, he jumped into the water and rushed to get to Yeshua, who had prepared a meal for them, some fish and bread. Peter didn’t say a word, he didn’t know what to say, what to expect. Yeshua asked him, “Do you love me more than these?” Peter looked into those eyes that stared into his.  Three times Yeshua asked him if he loves him. “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You”. Those eyes that were once filled with sadness and compassion now seemed full of love as Yeshua told him to feed His lambs, to tend and shepherd His sheep.

Something had happened. Peter knew it. Healing had taken place at that moment. The guilt and shame Peter felt earlier were gone. The Lord, His Lord, had not condemned him but, rather, welcomed him and showed him forgiveness, mercy and grace. Years later, as Peter was about to die for his faith, he understood. Living for the Lord Yeshua is the greatest sacrifice he could have done, and in his dying for the Lord, he knew he had completed the race.

© Hannah Kramer

Look Up

“and My people who are called by My name shall humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land” 2 Chronicles 7:14

Sky

We are living through extraordinary times. Nearly every corner of the globe has been affected by the coronavirus, with multitudes getting sick and many dying. Reactions to this pandemic have been varied. Some see it as no more than a conspiracy of sorts, a way for more government control and intervention in every day life. Others see it as a very serious plague, often panicking and buying as much food and supplies as they can in order to be ready for prolonged quarantine. Still others are somewhere in between, seeing the severity of the situation, but still trying to maintain a cheerful and positive outlook. After all, “A joyful heart is good medicine. But a broken spirit dries up the bones.” (Proverbs 17:22).

There is no doubt that many are suffering because of the situation. For some, even though they are healthy, they cannot risk visiting elderly parents or have the parents stay with them for fear of putting the parents at risk of getting sick. Social distancing is affecting many who want to see friends and family. So it is not just the illness itself that is causing pain, it is its social consequences of it as well. 

Much can be said about the implications of this virus on society. I am sure researchers of many fields will study it for years to come, be it the effects on economy, politics, social life, family dynamics (hey, many parents are learning to enjoy family time, while others don’t know how to cope with long-term, constant contacts with spouse and children) and so forth. But one thing I doubt will be the subject of many studies in the future is how people relate to God during this time.

There are several instances of plagues described in scripture. Most notable are the plagues with which God smote Egypt while Israel was enslaved there. Another, when God punished Israel after King David numbered the nation without receiving God’s command to do so. King David, when asked to choose which punishment to receive for his actions, chose a plague, because he said “Let us now fall into the hand of the Lord for His mercies are great, but do not let me fall into the hand of man” (2 Samuel 24:14).  

We don’t know why this pandemic is occurring now, and I certainly am not saying God sent it. An important application for us though, is that when such events happened throughout Israel’s history, people turned back to God, The people’s repentance brought about healing. God gave His Word in the passage above, that if people call upon Him, He will heal their land. But there are a few things the people need to do first: (1) They need to humble themselves. How difficult that is these days, when people and nations fall into the trap of “me, myself and I”, giving themselves the glory and praise. (2) They need to seek His face – This comes only after realising we don’t have the power or the capability to deal with a situation and the answer is not found with us, but with Him. (3) They need to turn from their wicked ways. This is even harder to do. What are these wicked ways? Hurting others, mocking, stepping on others for personal gain, lying, cheating, pride and thinking we know better than God, killing innocents babies (a/k/a abortion), distorting God’s truth (also about his plan for marriage and families). The list goes on and on.      

In today’s world, it is difficult to change one’s ways, admitting they are evil and contrary to God’s will. How can we expect God to help us if we continue to do what He hates? If our nation, if our world, would only realise how far we have drifted from God, how we have insulted Him, turned our backs on Him and even denied He even exists. Despite all that, if the world would now turn back to Him – He is faithful and just to answer and forgive, and if He so chooses, to heal our lands. 

No human being has the power to stop this pandemic and we know the Lord’s “…mercies are great…”. Let us respond differently from all the incorrect responses above. Towards God, let us humble ourselves, seek His face, turn from our wicked ways and call upon Him. The results will follow, and healing will come, because God is not a man that He should lie. And towards man – this is the time to lend a helping hand, open our eyes to those in need and show grace and compassion. There is no restriction on those – even from a distance. 

Stay safe.

© Hannah Kramer

The counsel of the Lord stands forever, The plans of His heart from generation to generation

Hi,

I am sharing something my brother wrote regarding the coronavirus. Translated from Hebrew and shared originally in the young adults group.

WhatsApp Image 2020-03-16 at 19.21.21

Sadly, this past weekend’s hard storm in Eilat left massive destruction in the coral reef. Not only did it damage scientific projects, but it damaged the beauty and richness of the animals dependent on the reefs for their lives. 

“For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now” (Romans 8:22). This is a harsh and painful reminder of the consequences of sin that has entered the world. Like creation, we too, await the day when we will be free from destruction, illnesses and death in the world.

“…’Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?’” (Mark 4:41). The Lord Yeshua is in control over everything, over natural and super natural forces, including coronavirus 😷. He has the power to restrain and stop and on the other hand, do nothing if He chooses so. “The counsel of the Lord stands forever, The plans of His heart from generation to generation.” (Psalm 33:11), and as Job said: “‘I know that You can do all things, And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted’ (Job 42:2).

We love to be in control and know what is going on. I think that somewhere the coronavirus shattered this illusion and reveals to us the reality that we aren’t really in control…We can’t go wherever we want, for some of us, work and studies are stopped, there is a lot of sadness, anxiety and so forth. No doubt that the year 2020 is a very interesting and challenging one! I believe the coronavirus is teaching us to look at life with proportion, at things that really matter.

How interesting that at the first young adults’ meeting this year, we spoke about how our faith is exercised in the most challenging and difficult times of our lives. Is it not during difficult times that we should place our trust in the Lord Yeshua? As you noticed, we don’t have fellowship gatherings now and we have heard countless times how the Body is not a building. We don’t need a special place to gather, pray, read or even worship! Let’s remember to be a light in this dark time: to allow others to pass us in line at the supermarket, to be with self restraint and patience with everyone, to ask others in the faith (and not only in the faith) how they are doing and to seek opportunities to show God’s love.

Have a blessed week and remember: “Cleanse your hands, you sinners” (James 4:8)  🧼 🙌🏼

© Nati Kramer

Picture by Nati

עֲצַת יְהוָה, לְעוֹלָם תַּעֲמֹד; מַחְשְׁבוֹת לִבּוֹ, לְדֹר וָדֹר

Hi,

I am sharing something my brother wrote regarding the corona virus. It is in Hebrew.

WhatsApp Image 2020-03-16 at 19.21.21

לצערי הרב, בסופ״ש האחרון הסופה הקשה באילת הותירה אחריה הרס רב לחיים בשונית האלמוגים. לא רק שזה פגע
בפרויקטים מדעיים, אלא זה פגע ביופי ובעושר של בע״ח התלויים באלמוגים למחייתם. ״אָנוּ יוֹדְעִים שֶׁכָּל הַבְּרִיאָה נֶאֱנַחַת וְסוֹבֶלֶת כִּבְצִירֵי לֵדָה עַד הַיּוֹם הַזֶּה״ (רומים ח׳ 22). זו תזכורת קשה וכואבת לתוצאות הבאות בעקבות כניסת החטא לעולם. כמו הבריאה, גם אנחנו מחכים ליום מגיע שבו נשתחרר מההרס, המחלות והמוות ששוררים בעולם.

״…מִי הוּא זֶה שֶׁגַּם הָרוּחַ וְהַיָּם נִשְׁמָעִים לוֹ?״, (מרקוס ד׳:41). האדון ישוע הוא בשליטה על הכל, על הכוחות הטבעיים והעל טבעיים, וכלל זה גם על הקורונה 😷 יש לו את הכוח להגביל ולעצור, ומצד שני גם לא לעשות כלום אם יחפץ בכך. ״עֲצַת יְהוָה, לְעוֹלָם תַּעֲמֹד; מַחְשְׁבוֹת לִבּוֹ, לְדֹר וָדֹר״, וכמו שאיוב אמר: ״יָדַעְתִּי, כִּי-כֹל תּוּכָל; וְלֹא-יִבָּצֵר מִמְּךָ מְזִמָּה״ (איוב מ״ב 2)

אנחנו אוהבים להיות בשליטה ולדעת מה קורה. אני חושב שבאיזשהו מקום הקורונה ניפצה לנו את בועת האשלייה הזו, וחושפת בפנינו את המציאות שאנחנו לא באמת בשליטה… אנחנו לא יכולים ללכת לכל מקום שנרצה, לחלקנו מקומות העבודה והלימודים שלנו נפגעו, הרבה עצב, חרדה וכו׳. אין ספק ששנת 2020 היא שנה מעניינת ומאתגרת כאחד! אני מאמין שהקורונה מלמדת אותנו גם להסתכל על החיים בפרופורציה, על הדברים שבאמת חשובים

כמה מעניין שבמפגש צעירים הראשון השנה, דיברנו על כך שהאמונה שלנו באה לידי ביטוי בתקופות הכי מאתגרות וקשות בחיינו. האם זה לא בזמנים קשים שאנו צריכים לשים ביטחוננו באדון? כמו ששמתם לב, אין כרגע אסיפות בקהילה, ושמענו אינספור פעמים שהקהילה היא לא רק בניין. אנחנו לא צריכים איזה מקום מיוחד כדי להתחבר, להתפלל, לקרוא, ואפילו להלל! בואו נזכור להיות אור בתקופה חשוכה: לאפשר לאחרים לעקוף אותנו בתור בסופר, להתנהג באיפוק ובסבלנות עם כולם, לשאול לשלומם של אחרים באמונה (וגם לא באמונה), ולחפש הזמנויות להראות את אהבת אלוהים.

שיהיה לכולם שבוע מבורך, וזכרו: ״הַחוֹטְאִים, רַחֲצוּ יְדֵיכֶם! (יעקב ד׳ 8)

© Nati Kramer

Picture by Nati

A Fragrance to Remember – A Story

Based on Matthew 26 and John 12.

Miriam stood in her room, staring at the special jar on her shelf. Her mind raced back and forth with different memories and thoughts. She knew what she had to do, she wasn’t doubting that, nor was she scared. She was just wondering why.

Not long before that day, her family had gone through an event that was so unusual and so miraculous, that people continued to talk about it. Her brother, her beloved brother, had taken seriously ill and after the passage of a few short days, he died, She, herself, suffered to see her brother in such pain. She and her sister did all that they could, but his situation worsened and they both knew that only a miracle could save him. But, the miracle did not come in time to save him from dying. While he was suffering, a dear family friend, someone all three siblings had to come to know and love, was in the area, only about a day’s journey from their home. The sisters believed that He could do something to help restore their brother’s health. They sent someone to ask Him to come. In their heart of hearts, they believed that if anyone could help her brother, it was Yeshua. They knew He had a special love for them and they waited anxiously for Him to come. But, He didn’t. Then why didn’t He just pray for their brothers healing if He couldn’t come. They watched their brother die and were at a loss for words why their friend, the One who could have helped, did not do so.

Miriam stood there remembering, and beginning to understand only now just how little they knew back then, not realising God had a plan. After all, their friend wasn’t just an ordinary man. He was the longed for Messiah, the Hope of Israel, and, specifically, the hope of their family. She knew it and she knew He was God himself who had to come to save them. Oh, there was much she didn’t know yet, as she reflected on all the times she sat at His feet, listening to Him…how her heart yearned to hear more, to learn more, to listen to Him forever.

Miriam’s mind wandered back to her brother’s death. Yeshua finally came, but only four days after her brother had died and his body was placed in the tomb. For her and her sister, Martha, as well as for the rest of the close relatives and friends of the family, all hope was lost. But Yeshua was there and death could not be victorious in His presence. He wept over the loss of His friend, over the sin that had entered the world. He had come to give life and life ever lasting. He prayed and commanded her brother to come forth. Lazarus believed not only what Yeshua said, but also Who Yeshua was. And at the sound of His voice and His command, Lazarus rose from the dead and came out of the tomb, burial clothes and all … after four days! He did far them far beyond what they could ask for or even think Unheard of before. The miracle they sought for – their brother being raised from his sick bed – could not be compared with the miracle that they experienced – their brother being raised from the dead. Yes, a miracle so unique that people came from all over to see the man who returned from the dead.

And now, once again, their brother sat at their table, in their house, continuing his life. And Yeshua was there too, with his twelve disciples. Miriam somehow knew that this might be the last time she would see Him. She heard Him speak and relate how He must go up to Jerusalem and be handed over to be crucified. She didn’t understand why, but she knew she had to take that special jar on the shelf and bring it to Him now. She lifted it gently off the shelf and held it tightly in her hands, thinking how she gathered and saved every drop of that fragrant perfume throughout the years for her own, special day – her wedding day. She planned to use it for herself when engaged, anointing herself with oils prior to her wedding day and saving the best oil for that special day. Nard was so expensive and the special jar she kept it in was beautiful. It had the priceless nard with another precious oil that enabled the anointing of the body, which Miriam managed to buy slowly over a period of time. It was the most precious item she had, but she wanted to give it to Yeshua.

Miriam entered the room, all eyes were fixed on Yeshua as He spoke, just as He had done many times before in their home. He saw her entering the room. He never missed a detail in what was going on around Him. Yeshua looked at Miriam and smiled slightly. Miriam knew then what she needed to do and could not escape the thought that He already knew what she was going to do. His smile, which always brightened the room, now seemed sad.

She slowly approached Yeshua and then, getting on her knees at the place where Yeshua sat, she broke the seal on the vessel. Immediately, the room was filled with such a sweet-smelling savor, one that most people in the room had never experienced. All eyes were turned to her now, surprised and wondering what was going on. Miriam just looked at Yeshua, whom she called “Lord” and proceeded to slowly pour the expensive ointment on His head. As the oil poured down to His face and beard, Miriam poured the rest on His feet and began wiping them with her hair. She did it out of love for her Lord, She just knew she had to. Yeshua understood, but His disciples didn’t.

Someone began complaining why she didn’t just sell the jar of perfume and give the money to the poor. Yeshua said “Why do you bother the woman? For she has done a good deed to Me. For you always have the poor with you; but you do not always have Me. For when she poured this perfume on My body, she did it to prepare Me for burial. Truly I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her”. He looked at Miriam, affirming her actions. She now understood why she needed to do what she did.

A week later, she stood in her room again, looking at the shelf and thinking of the events of the previous week and of the broken jar of perfume. She reflected on anointing her Lord before His death, not knowing the events that were soon to follow. After the anointing from the jar that she broke, she pieced together all she had learned from Yeshua before and she realised not only that He would die, but just like with her brother, He would rise again, defeating death once and for all. That is why she never went with the other women to anoint His body after He was placed in the tomb following His crucifixion. She already did that in His life. She knew He would live. And when she saw Him alive, He smiled again, a smile of eternal Love and victory.

A final reflection on a broken bottle: We have this treasure in earthen vessels. If we allow these vessels to be broken, what kind of fragrance would fill our souls, our homes, our work places and the place of our fellowship? Is there something precious to us that we are holding onto. Why not bring this also to the feet of the Lord Yeshua?

© Hannah Kramer

 

A Touch of Grace – A Story

Based on the story of the woman with the flow of blood in Luke 8:42-48.

Once again, the doctor told her to get up. She stopped counting the number of times she was examined by physicians. “Here is the bill”, the doctor said. The woman couldn’t look at it. She already spent so much money and went to so many doctors. What hadn’t she done? She applied dozens of ointments, chewed and swallowed many plants. They tried to scare her. They gave her different foods. Each time she hoped that this would be the treatment that would help. But, she was disappointed again. Each time she heard the same things in a different way. “You don’t believe strongly enough that you will be ok”; “You must have done something, sinned in some way. Let your husband offer another sacrifice for you”; “God is upset with you, we have nothing to do until you atone for your sin”.

The woman could no longer hear these accusations. She loved God and so longed to worship him. She was certain that He knew her heart. She tried to live a life honouring to him. But, she could no longer accept the things she was told. She also had no explanation for her bleeding which lasted for 12 years.

For 12 years, the woman could not go near her husband, touch him, be with him. She was unclean and any touch with him would make him unclean as well.

For 12 years, the woman could not celebrate holidays with her family, eat out of the same plates, touch them, sit on the same furniture, leave her room. Anything she touched, sat on, ate out of, became immediately unclean to others. Holidays were the hardest. Everyone would get organised, cleaned and purified and would go to offer a sacrifice in the Temple. She would have to stay home, alone. If she were to go out and be discovered as having a flow of blood, she could be stoned. She couldn’t take that risk. She still had the hope of being healed. That is why she spent all her money on doctors, ointments and medicines. Oh, how she suffered from them! She did everything in order to return to regular relationship with her family and friends. With God. She prayed, day and night, even at times shouting to God to heal her. She didn’t understand why. Why her, what had she done, why did she have to suffer like that? There were times she was upset with God for letting her suffer like that. Not just physically. The alienation hurt the most. At first, her husband would go with her to the doctors. He would spend money, he would pray with her, cry with her. He wanted to touch her, but he couldn’t. As the years went by, he had given up hope for her recovery. Yes, he loved her dearly. But he lost hope that there would be any change. He could no longer hear of another treatment that failed, another ointment she tried, another method that didn’t work. Even today, she tried to tell him but he just didn’t want to listen, “I’m going to my room. I’m tired”.

The woman wanted to withdraw to her room as well and was on the way when suddenly…

“Father, father!” she heard her son call. “Father is in his room. What happened?”

Her son looked at her and said, “Oh, never mind…” and then, suddenly looking at her with a pensive look, he quickly said, “Actually, yes! It does matter!” and his enthusiasm began to increase. “Yeshua has arrived in the village. Mother, you must come! If anyone can heal you, HE can!”

The woman had heard of Yeshua many times before. How could she not? All the miracles He had done, people He healed, even people He resurrected!

“Mother, please! I know, I know you’ve tried everything”, her son said excitedly. She could see the pain in his eyes, pain that until now, was hidden from her sight. Her 12 year old son, whom she never touched, never hugged, never kissed. She was afraid that touching him would make him unclean.

“Mother, I will go with you. Please come. I know He can heal you. But you must hurry, we don’t have much time!”

The woman froze. Go out? How can I? I could be stoned if people find out I have a flow of blood! But this is my chance. I might not have another, after all, Yeshua is here, in my village!  And I am out of money to pay doctors. If He can’t do it, no one else can. I believe He can…but how will I do it without attracting attention to myself?

The woman suddenly felt a pull. Her little boy reached over the line separating them at home, the line setting the boundary where she could walk freely without making someone unclean, and he took her hand. He pulled her, looked into her eyes and said “We are leaving!”

The woman quickly covered her head and face to avoid being recognised. She walked quickly, trying to keep up with her son. There were so many people and she didn’t want to lose him. Then, she saw Him. She saw Yeshua and someone was talking to him. It seemed He was on the way to someone’s house. No! I must go now, I will touch the fringes of His tassels. That way no one will notice me. I know that by touching even the fringes, I will be healed!

The woman hurried, everyone was pushing one another, there was no room to move. Oh, how she was scared! She reached out and touched the fringes of His tassels. Immediately she felt an unexplainable sensation take over her. She knew she had been healed. Her flow of blood stopped! She immediately felt a newness in her body. Oh what an incredible feeling!

But then, Yeshua turned around asking, “Who touched me?” Oh, no! He knows! She thought. What shall I do? His disciples said to Him “the multitude is pushing you and you ask who touched you?” But Yeshua looked at her, knowing power had gone from Him.

The woman approached Him, trembling. There was no reason to hide it from Him. He knew all things. She fell on her knees before Him and told Him everything. She knew everyone could hear her, see her, they could stone her. She made them all unclean. And by touching his garment, she made Him unclean as well. The world seemed to be silent around her, she couldn’t hear anyone but Him.

Yeshua looked at her and said “My daughter, go in peace. Your faith has saved you”.

The world seem to come alive again, and was full of noise. She looked around and it appeared people didn’t really notice her or what she said. She arose, with strength she hadn’t felt in 12 years. Her son grabbed onto her strongly, and hugged her … a hug he had been waiting to give for 12 years. She wrapped her arms around him and praised God in her heart. She realised it wasn’t touching the garment that healed her. It was her faith in Yeshua, in who He is. She knew at that moment that all the things she had heard throughout the years about her lack of faith, all the guilt and accusations thrown at her, were lies.

She was reassured at that moment of God’s love for her. Yeshua loved her and made sure to tell her that her faith had saved her.

The woman hurried back home with her son. Her husband was walking around restlessly, worried. He didn’t know where she had gone and was fearful for her life. When he saw her and their little son hugging her, he wanted to take him from her arms right away, but then the boy told him all that had happened. Her husband looked at her in amazement, with tears in his eyes. For the first time in 12 years, he hugged his wife, and they all knew that the family would all be well now.

The woman returned to her relationship with her husband, her family, and most importantly, with God. How she waited to celebrate the holidays again and to go up to Jerusalem for the sacrifices.

Not long after that, she stood once again in the midst of a bustling, but now raging crowd. This time the crowd did not try to draw near to Yeshua, but looked at Him in contempt hanging on a cross. The woman saw His flow of blood on the cross, remembering how He healed her and gave her a renewed life with her family. She knew that this act now, His death, His flow of blood had significance far beyond what she could comprehend at the moment. But, in time, when He rose from the dead, when His disciples shared the glorious news, she understood. It was all in accordance with the Scriptures. He loved us, He gave Himself for us, He died for us and shed His blood, He conquered sin and death, and by faith in what He has done, we not only have new life, but eternal life with Him.

© Hannah Kramer