Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Christmas in Summer

“But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings.  And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture….”  Malachi 4:2

The other day I began whistling the Christmas carol, Hark the Herald Angels Sing.  Goodness, Lord, this Christmas carol in the summer? I fished around in my memory bank for the lyrics but could only get some of them. The inability to remember all the lyrics can drive me crazy when the tune is familiar and right there coming out of my mouth. So, I stopped, thought hard and asked God to let me know what the words were. This is one of God’s favorite ways to speak to me.  Why is it that at Christmas time all the words of a carol just flow from memory but if it is summer we can’t always remember the words? So I turned to the internet to check the lyrics. God must be trying to get some message across to me, I thought. Which words, Lord, do you want to remind me of? I asked.  I got to verse 3 which Charles Wesley penned in 1739:  “Hail the Son of Righteousness!  Light and Life to all he brings, Ris’n with healing in his wings….”  The words expressed come out of Malachi 4:2. I stopped everything to listen further to the Spirit.  Healing first. Freedom and joy are a result of healing not the other way around. You can’t expect a wounded person to feel free and leap with joy. Healing of wounds or injuries come first.  God was speaking and I was listening. I had observed a lack of joy and freedom in certain people and wondered what caused it. Then God revealed woundedness was the root problem and God wanted to rise with healing in his wings. Then there would be joy and freedom. 
To further confirm the words of the Spirit that same day our son, Jonny, who is a volunteer fireman, sent us some video clips of a serious car accident which he was summoned to. Stars, the ambulance helicopter, was sent to the rescue to carry away the injured to the hospital. It came down to the injured, hovered over them, propeller whirling, the ground rescuers assisted the injured onto the helicopter  and then it rose up to take the wounded off to the place of healing and life.  It was a graphic portrayal of both the Bible verse and Christmas carol.
Many instances of Jesus, rising up and coming to me with healing, were brought to my memory. It is like he just flies to the rescue of the wounded. There have always been God’s rescue people assisting but sometimes the 'Stars helicopter' needs to fly in. The ground rescuers are not enough. I have many Muslim friends who need the Sun of Righteousness to rise up and bring healing, freedom and joy to them because I can be there to help but they really need the ultimate Healer to take them under his wings.

P.S. No sooner had this been posted than I received a SOS phone call from a convert requesting urgent healing prayer for a Muslim classmate whom I don't know. The phone was passed to that lady and I prayed Jesus would go to her and heal her.
Dear heavenly Father, thank you for rising up and coming to us with healing in your wings. Please fly to some of my Muslim friends who are spiritually wounded and injured or traumatized.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.      

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Celebrating Pentecost

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth….he lives with you now and later will be in you.” John 14: parts of 16-17

Sadia asked, “Joy, do you know what that is on the coffee table?” “Yes, I do, Sadia. It’s the kaaba,” I replied. The big plastic cube with the black kaaba encased in it was a new addition to their living room d├ęcor. Sadia was very proud of it and looked at it affectionately. Now she thought, I have the house of Allah right in my living room. I could tell the structure gave a sense of order and a “closeness” to Allah. Inwardly I prayed, Thank you, Lord that you have made your home within me. Thank you for Pentecost!

Amal has a way of defending Islam every time I visit her. We won’t even be having any spiritual conversation and her defenses go up. Usually the conversation is about Islamic rules which pertain to wearing the hijab, prayers and fasting, refraining from pork and alcohol or interest free banking, etc. I can tell that Amal is searching for approval from Allah. Thank You, Lord, that I don’t have to live by the law but can enjoy life in the Spirit. Thank you for Pentecost!

I love Pentecost Sunday when we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit to reside in His followers; not just to be with us but live in us. A Libyan Muslim lady asked me one day, “Joy, if Jesus died and came alive, where is He now?” “He’s right here, my friend,” I replied. A Somali man asked me, “Joy, what does Pentecostal mean?” “You really want to know, Abdi?” I asked. “Yeah,” he said. He listened in utter amazement to the story of Pentecost. Wow! I never tire reading the story in Acts 2. The rushing wind, the tongues of fire, the speaking in unlearned languages, the force of witnessing power and Presence unleashed among the bewildered people from many nations – what can be more thrilling?

Recently I tried to imagine what it would be like if Jesus Christ just died, was resurrected, ascended to heaven and that was the end. What if there had been no Pentecost – no coming of the Spirit of Jesus Christ to reside in us? Pentecost changes everything! One thing is for sure: I would not be in ministry among Muslims if the Holy Spirit had not come on Pentecost. I would not dare venture out to share my faith with Muslims if I did not have the Holy Spirit living within me. It’s important to clarify to our Muslim friends that in the Bible the Holy Spirit(al-Ruh al-Quds) is not the angel Gabriel(Jibril). I not only want to share about the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus to my Muslim friends but also tell them about Pentecost. Often we share about the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus and then skip to the return of Christ but leave out Pentecost. Why is that?

Dear heavenly Father, please help me not to be reticent to talk about Pentecost to my Muslim friends. In Jesus’name, Amen.