Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Great Cloud of Witnesses

Originally Posted on My Facebook Status on Feb 28, 2016
I am so blessed to have a community of such brave and passionate friends. Last night, our Kehilah (congregation) service was so packed that we didn't get our normal seats. Instead, we sat in the very last row in the back, where I had a view of everyone (on that side) who was there. I looked at the audience and saw men and women, young and old, who had all made tremendous sacrifices to walk with their Messiah.

At shabbat dinner the night before, I learned the testimony of one who wrestled with betraying his people by receiving Jesus, until Christians began sharing about the Jewish Messiah, YESHUA, while he was working at a Dead Sea booth, in a mall, in a different country. Another brave young women told me of her decision to train as an officer in the IDF. As a new immigrant, she gave up an easier life in the US and has taken on the responsibilities required by this nation, and now she's moving above and beyond. Yet another friend is preparing to leave Israel to serve the Lord in an unreached nation.

 I looked at all the people worshiping the Lord in front of me. I counted young people in or recently out of the IDF, and realized that 5 of them came from 1 mother, who still has children at home! Oh how she prays! I saw another young woman who grew up in the south under the pressures of constant missile fire. I saw families who had overcome weaknesses of the body, paralysis... cancer... Others who I know road bikes or walked more than an hour to be part of corporate worship, and to sit under sound biblical teaching, when it would have been easier to stay home -- some of these Israeli citizens and some, volunteers from the nations.

What I was seeing before me was a small glimpse at the great cloud of witnesses. I was seeing overcomers with hands lifted in praise, fighting the good fight -- not allowing the circumstances of this fallen world to harden their hearts, praising the risen King, no matter what.

I left encouraged to press on toward the goal and to pick up my cross daily as more than a conqueror through Messiah Yeshua, Jesus my savior.

When you go to church, I'd like to encourage you do the same. Look at the people the Lord has called you into fellowship with. Remember their stories, if you don't know it, ask. In courage, share your own testimony. Its God's story that He wrote through you. Let iron sharpen iron and be blessed by His hands and feet, in the form of your friends!

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Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us...  Hebrews 12:1