Saturday, November 10, 2007

Jesus Christ Transforms Lives

Newsletter: Life in Israel-One Body 09Nov07

Jesus Christ Transforms Lives

Written by guest blogger Susan Smith

Almost a year and a half ago, we began discussing the idea of the one Church body and Israel being one and the same (spiritually speaking). I am convinced this is true and in September the title of this newsletter was changed to include “One Body.” The more books that are read and the more I study the written Word of God, this proposition continues to be reinforced in my mind, soul and spirit over and over again. The one Church body and Israel are one and the same, spiritually speaking. During May 2006 we had concluded a series on humility and a new subject for this newsletter was being considered. You read in a newsletter that month:

“For my records, this series has been titled “Israel and the one Church body”. Could Israel and the one Church body be one and the same ‘spiritually’ speaking? This is not replacement theology as some have taught in error. The Church has not ‘replaced’ Israel at all.” And the country of Israel on earth today has definitely not replaced the one Church body. We will talk more about this later. Jesus said, “I will build my church” (see MAT 16:18) and He is doing just that. If you believe, then Jesus is your life.

God is the light of life. He wraps Himself in light and the unfolding of His words gives us light (see PSA 56:13, PSA 104:2 and PSA 119:130, NIV). Most readers have heard of Einstein’s famous equation: Energy equals mass times the velocity of light squared. Many have heard of laser light beams used for surgery. Do we actually understand light? So often we hear that science and religion do not mix. God created everything man can study. The fields of mathematics and physics verify the truth of the Bible! Did you know God lives in unapproachable light (see 1TI 6:16)? The King of kings and Lord of lords, who loves you dwells in unapproachable light that no human being has ever seen or can see!

Most everyone knows God said, “Let there be light” and He saw that the light was good. He separated the light from the darkness and He called the light “day” and the darkness He called “night” (see GEN 1:3-5). My beloved friends, this was the first day of creation long before God created the sun, moon and the stars on the fourth day of creation. So we had light on earth before the sun existed. What does this mean to us today? Have you ever considered the definition of light?

My dictionary gives the definition of light quite clearly. Light is “something that makes vision possible.” Amazingly, the first definition of “vision” in my dictionary is: “a supernatural appearance that conveys a revelation.” Vision is not only the act or power of seeing with our physical eyes. Vision transmits or delivers a revelation! Do you have vision? Exactly what is that “something” that makes vision possible? Obviously it is the Holy Spirit, because “This is the message we have heard from Him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all” (see 1JO 1:5, RSV). Do you understand?

This year, 2007, is a very interesting season in my life. My biological mother died in Florida on 18April and my spiritual mother (or mentor) died on 18May. Their physical bodies were put into the earth on 21April and 21May. I was unable to attend the funerals. Only God can do miracles like that. The two women who affected my life the most were taken off this earth the last days I lived in Israel. My move back to the United States after five years of working with Bridges for Peace in Jerusalem was on 26May. “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (see PSA 139:16, NIV). God knew everything that would happen during my five years in the country of Israel. Accidents do not happen.

Last Sunday (04Nov) I attended First Baptist Church of Columbia with my mentor’s two daughters. They invited me to stand as a member of their family during a time of memorial for members of that congregation who had died within the past year. Their act of kindness and love touched my heart deeply. Saturday night before the service God brought to my mind it was exactly one year ago on 04Nov2006 that I visited my mother in Florida. It was my final leave from Israel, when I drove to Zephyrhills for a niece’s wedding that I last saw my biological mother alive on this earth. Only God’s timing is perfect and only He could have arranged this memorial service to be on 04Nov.

It was a very emotional experience for me and tears came to my eyes several times before, after and during the service. Songs sung during worship included “Because He Lives” and also “It Is Well with My Soul.” I sat next to my mentor’s older daughter who called me in Jerusalem within thirty minutes of my mentor’s death. She quietly said “You have been to mother’s funeral” and told me those two songs were sung at my mentor’s funeral in May. There were forty-one “saints” remembered last Sunday at First Baptist. The senior pastor asked family members to stand when he read each name and a photo was shown on two large screens in the sanctuary.

What a poignant and heartrending moment in time this was for me. As we stood, my head was bowed and tears welled up in my eyes as I tried not to sob out loud. My mentor’s older daughter put her arm around me and I leaned my head on her shoulder. Her tender loving touch reminded me so much of my beloved mentor, because it ministered to my deepest spiritual and emotional need for love at that time. God showed her my need and she obeyed. “Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother” (MAR 3:35, NIV). The Holy Spirit obviously directed her exactly how to love me just as He did her mother for so many years.

After the service the daughters and I joined my mentor’s granddaughter, her husband and the two great-granddaughters (two and four-years-old) at California Dreaming for lunch. California Dreaming is a nice restaurant built from a historic 1901 railroad station. The fourth day of November will always be special in my memory. As the daughters drove me home, the older daughter reminded me that they love me. Later in an email, I told her I truly grieved the loss of her and her sister when their mother died. For me, it was like losing my entire family. My mentor was the “glue” that kept us together. Now I realize they were not “lost” even though we are not together so often. She told me in her reply: “As sisters in Christ, we will always have a bond even if we are miles apart physically.” Lyda and Ruth will always remain my beloved sisters by the blood of Jesus the Messiah. Accidents simply do not happen.

How the enemy used my biological mother to lead me into darkness was no accident either. The devil and/or demonic spirits ministered much death to my soul during my developmental years in Florida through the life of my mother. Your soul is your mind, your will and your emotions. I felt very alone during those years and I believed many lies from the enemy. Satan is the father of lies and there is no truth in him (see JOH 8:44). The real and perceived rejection from my mother was fertile spiritual ground for the enemy to work for many years. The chains of bondage to sexual sin seemed to draw tighter and tighter each year as my alcohol abuse increased. Homosexuality was a major sin in my life for more than twenty years and drunkenness was practiced for more than thirty years. Then our merciful God sent a deliverer. My mentor was sixty-five and I was thirty-five when we met in Columbia, South Carolina.

My move to Columbia in 1984 after my dad died in Florida was by the hand of God. God’s plan was much better than mine. This writer believed she was moving to Columbia because of the “gay” community. During my US Army days, I was sent to Ft. Jackson, South Carolina during the 1970s from Ft. Hood, Texas on two temporary duty trips. During those trips, I met quite a number of men and women who practiced the sin of homosexuality in Columbia. Two female “gay” friends found the house I bought in Columbia in 1984 and God set me down in this capital city right next-door to the woman (my mentor) He had prepared to deliver me out of the sins of homosexuality and drunkenness. Neither of us had any idea what the Lord planned to do over the next eighteen years as we lived side by side. My neighbor knew nothing about those who practice the sin of homosexuality; however, she knows Jesus.

She and her husband were both retired. They had two married daughters and three grandchildren when we met. During my five years in Israel (2002-2007) two great-granddaughters were born. What an amazing relationship I had with this woman during those twenty-three years. God knit our hearts together with His divine love and the Lord worked a mighty transformation in my life. When I was accepted as a volunteer by Bridges for Peace in Jerusalem, I told my mentor she was the only person on earth who could stop me from going. The hug she gave me was strong as she wrapped her arms around me in her kitchen that morning and she said, “I cannot stand in the Lord’s way.” We both had tears in our eyes.

God continued to transform my life during the five years in Israel and my transformation has not ended. Being set free from the power of sin in our lives is a transforming experience and it continues until we leave this earth. “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” We are being transformed into the likeness of Jesus the Messiah with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, Who is the Spirit (see 2CO 3:17-18, NIV). My life appears to have very little solid direction since my return from Israel, yet I know the Lord is leading me every day. The Israelites drank from the spiritual rock and so does this writer. The Rock is Christ (see 1CO 10:4) and He is solid. “For who is God besides the Lord and who is the Rock except our God?” (PSA 18:31, NIV) He never leaves us and God is moving me in a direction right now never before imagined.

You will learn more about the changes in my life and this direction before the end of the year as the Lord gives me more light and revelation. If we walk in the light as God is in the light, then the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from every sin (see 1JO 1:7) and He gives us more and more freedom in the Holy Spirit. The kingdom of God is within us (see LUK 17:21) and His kingdom is a matter of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (see ROM 14:17). Are you living in His kingdom this day? Once in a while, someone asks me, “What do you do?” There is only one answer. I am following Jesus! Have a wonderful week. ~ Susan Smith


Jaded said...

This post spoke very deeply to me, especially as it discussed Satan using her biological mother as an instrument of darkness. I believe that is what my mother is as well. It has been like a burden lifted and light began to shine when I finally realized this. Our paths have been very different, but some experiences have been very similar.

Thank you for this post. It was truly blessed.

Christinewjc said...

Dear Susan,

You already know what I think about this awesome newsletter!! It brought tears to my eyes! Thank you for sharing how God has transformed your life and the newfound family members you have gained through your beloved mentor.

Thank you for being willing to share it with readers here at this blog. Your writing has blessed many!

Your ear for hearing the Lord's will in your life is very keen. What's more, he has given you the ability to share how His transformation in your life continues to touch others. He is directing your path - that's for certain.

Right where you are now, He is using you and your writing in a mighty way to help uplift all who read your newsletters! I am grateful that I get the chance to share them here at the blog.

The Lord sent you into my life to help transform me, as well. You have been a sister in Christ mentor in my life. This could only happen through the power of the Holy Spirit's leading!

Thanks for all of the inspiration, encouragement, prayers and loving friendship you send across our great nation to your "little sister on the West Coast!"

Christinewjc said...

Dear Jaded,

I don't know all that much about your history with your biological mother. (If you discuss it there, then I realize that I need to read more at your blog!) But know that I am praying for continued healing for you!

To know that a burden of such magnitude has been lifted from you and that the light of Jesus now shines through is evidence and proof that he can heal the brokenhearted.

I am grateful to God that Susan's post has helped to bless you this day.