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Awesome God!

Watching God at work is always a thrilling yet humbling experience. Several folk were healed and set free from decades of emotional and mental bondage, arising out of hurts and bad experiences of the past. The grace to forgive and the power that sets captives free was so evident from the Holy Spirit! Here were some, who were delivered of the burden of years, if not a lifetime of carrying hurts inflicted by others. And another who shed the yoke of having to prove themselves worthy. And another, released from being a slave. And others who found deep encounters with God …..

We learnt again, the simple lesson that when the Holy Spirit moves, we just have to make sure we’re not getting in his way! Also, that when we are willing, God is more than willing! The theme for the weekend was prayer as a journey – a journey of increasing openness and surrender to God, that interweaves with our life’s journey. As we thought over the implications of such a journey for our relationship to God and opened ourselves to the Holy Spirit, so it gave him the opportunity to work in our lives.

To borrow from Matt Redman:

You alone can rescue, you alone can save
You alone can lift us from the grave
You came down to find us, led us out of death
TO YOU ALONE BELONGS THE HIGHEST PRAISE!

Rain!

Negev desert

The Negev. Beauty in desolation.

At the end of the last Journey to Israel, we spent three days in the Negev desert in southern Israel. We’ve been there before and know it to be beautiful, hot and dry. But this time it rained! We had just finished our lunch in a canyon, when the heavens opened and we got rather wet! Our first reaction was, “Oh no! Go away! We’ve had enough of rain, back home. We’ve had it all summer. Deserts are dry places!” But our local guide’s reaction was totally different. “It’s wonderful!” he said. “Look at those beautiful storm clouds. What a blessing! Look at those streams of flowing water already forming on the desert floor.”

We were being given a living lesson about living water.

The desert is a dry and difficult place. And those who live there wait expectantly for the blessing of rain, which brings life and fruitfulness. That day, I was moved in spirit as I remembered one of God’s many similar promises in his Word, that he will provide water in the desert and streams in the wasteland (Is43:18-21).

Once again, we are at the time of year when we can reflect with joy on the birth of our Saviour, Jesus. How wonderfully, Isaiah prophesied of him: The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the shadow of death, a light has dawned.

Light, breaking the darkness. Rain, reviving the desert. They are the same message of hope and restoration. Whatever may be the desert place or darkness we find ourselves in, if we have Christ and know him in our hearts, then we have this certain hope – that the rain will arrive and the light will dawn.

We travelled this year, as a much smaller group (7) than usual, but it didn’t prevent the Lord from working in a BIG way! Our prayer and expectation on these Journeys is always for the Lord to surprise us with a rich encounter with himself, as folk enjoy and absorb the experience of the Land and its people and gain insight into truths of Scripture. God didn’t disappoint us.

Where Jesus had once ministered to set captives free and release prisoners from darkness, we experienced the Holy Spirit’s works of deep healing and liberation. Many return from a visit to Israel feeling that the experience has changed them in some way. For some of our group, they returned “a different person”, not only with renewed strength of commitment to Jesus, but knowing that they were healed, transformed and set free from many years of deep and even hidden pain. How good is our God!

In another fascinating facet of the Lord’s diamond for this Journey, Mary and I were able to spend some time following up with some of the folk from Shevet Achim, who had attended the August Encounter Weekend. Our time of prayer with one lady, who had been very distressed with recurring dark memories,  proved to be a connection in a mighty work God had planned for her. We couldn’t complete the ministry because of time and language (Arabic) constraints, before we had to leave. Before the evening was out, God heard her cries. We had prayed that an Arab pastor she and us know would be able to follow up with her. On her way home, she had a very timely, unplanned encounter with him and that evening she was set free from spiritual and emotional bondages that were rooted deep into her childhood. From what we hear, she was jumping and leaping and praising God! How good is our God! Who can begin to understand his ways?

We felt very much the favour of God. We would arrive at popular places to find we had them to ourselves. Sitting on the first century steps to the Temple, was very special for us all. We shared some moving times of prayer. Starting our day together in worship, by the shores of Galilee – well, there’s no other experience like it! Overall, we didn’t feel at all under any threat or danger, though the local folk did express concerns over developments in Egypt and the growing influence of militant Islamist groups, following the Arab spring.

We’ve compiled a short travelogue of different images from the Journey. It doesn’t cover everything, but if it draws you, then why not join us in November 2012!

At the end of October, at the Mustard Tree, we completed the last of our Encounter Weekends for this year. Psalm 34:5 (Those who look to him are radiant, their faces are never covered with shame) was the theme for the weekend. We gathered to seek our Father afresh and allow the Holy Spirit to ignite a deeper connection with Father’s heart. We
wanted to make the time to gaze on him and experience his gaze on us. We were not disappointed!

Breakthrough

Simply to say that Father met with us, is rather like saying, “We stood under a waterfall and got a bit wet!” What’s it like to bring ourselves into the torrent of grace and love that flows from his heart?

xxxthere was rejoicing for those who were freed from consuming fears
xxxthere were those who reconnected in their relationship with God
xxxand Father’s special, for some who for the first time in their years of walking with Jesus, were able to experience Father’s embrace and call him “Father”
xxxan amazing answer to one person’s practical and deeply felt needs, through someone they’d not met before, yet who came (unknowingly) equipped with the detailed and exactly right answer: that can only be Father God!
xxxthere was soaking in his enveloping peace and enjoying his favour to us and warmth of his gaze
xxxa lady came, suffering from acute pain – a consequence of 30 years of scoliosis (curvature of her spine). She was permanently on Tramadol, a narcotic like pain reliever. She had tried every remedy, with no cure. The Holy Spirit revealed that she was bound in her affliction by an evil spirit, like the lady in Lk13:10. The word of deliverance was spoken over her and she was set free from 30 years of pain and disease. She was up and bending over to touch her toes and tying her shoe laces, all for the first time in over 20 years!

Hallelujah! Our Father is so good!

Freedom

And  we were hugely encouraged, too, to have confirmed that a lady who attended the Nicholaston weekend in September (and this one) was freed from OCD that had meant a repeated compulsive behaviour that was interfering with her daily life and making a chore out of many normal activities during any day, for over 30 years. She needed constantly to check and recheck that everything in her apartment was secure and it was an ordeal every time she went out. When she returned home from the September weekend, it suddenly dawned on her that the Lord had delivered her from this compulsion. At the Mustard tree she testified to how she had enjoyed a month of “normal” behaviour!

“I sought the Lord and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears … taste and see that the Lord is good”, said David in Ps34:4,8. So many of the folk from these last two weekends, at Nicholaston and the Mustard Tree, would say a big AMEN! And certainly we would add, “The Lord has done great things for us and we are filled with joy”.

And more ….

Well, it didn’t end there! Shortly after the weekend, we heard from a dear friend. Best let her tell her own story:

I received a healing a week ago that has made my life so much more pleasant!  Since the age of 17 I have had trouble with my wisdom teeth.  One in particular that apparently could not come through because there was no room.  The hospital did not want to try and extract it because it was too high in the jaw.  The dentist hoped that it would come down enough to be removed. I have had endless pain and infections over the years, a very bad one recently that was the worst the dentist had ever seen. This was part of my problem over half term. I could not open my mouth to eat. Pain killers had little effect. As I lay in bed last Thursday feeling sorry for myself because I had no one to pray for me at that time, I thought of Conrad and his assertiveness regarding healing. In particular I remember him saying that you need to claim your healing- the healing you are entitled to, so I thought that I would pray for myself and do exactly that. I fell asleep and woke up with a big white glistening wisdom tooth in the right place!

How great is our Father God!

Podcasts of the weekends’ teachings can be downloaded from here.

What an awesome God we have! During our Encounter Weekend at Nicholaston House we experienced the gentle but deep power of the Holy Spirit.

“In quietness and trust is your strength”, the Lord spoke through Isaiah (30:15) and so it proved for us.  There was no drama and yet there was plenty. For one, a deep move of God in their being, that could barely be spoken about and continuing and deeper encounters with Jesus through the weekend; for some others, removal of a lifetime’s baggage; for another, healing of deep wounds and the “making good” of what had been lost in childhood; for many, an enveloping assurance of father’s love and the joy and freedom of the Holy Spirit; and for one, a very special moment of receiving Jesus as Saviour and Lord. Some spoke of the Word that was taught, piercing their hearts and speaking directly to their lives – only the Holy Spirit can do that!

For the casual observer, there was nothing out of the ordinary to describe the weekend because everything, in many ways, just went ahead normally. Yet who can fathom the mind or works of God? It is the testimony of the lives that were being deeply transformed by the Spirit, that speak the truth of what HE was about. We just stand back in awe and thankfulness and give HIM the praise and glory. These are, indeed, extraordinary times. And we are seeing our God at work, not just in the spectacular and visible manifestations but also in the depths of the “engine room” of peoples’ lives, where he’s restoring freedom and abundant life and reigniting a revival of enduring passion for him.

Perhaps what sums up the weekend for us is the experience of one of our number, who arrived quite late on Friday evening, after a 4 and a half hour drive. She arrived, in her own words, in a “very bad mood”, even as she drove up Nicholaston’s drive and approached the front door. As soon as she walked in the door to the empty entrance lobby, she says, she was met with such a strong sense of the presence of Jesus, that it changed her instantly! We do remember that when she found us in the room we were in, we did wonder that she seemed in remarkably good spirit, for the journey she had just done! And that was just the start of God’s blessings for her. God is good! And he’s awesome!

Lord we want to thank you, for the works you’ve done in our lives.

Thanks to all who stood with us in prayer. Paul’s words from 2Cor1:11 certainly resonate with us: “Many will give thanks on our  behalf for the gracious favour granted us in answer to the prayers of many”.

Here are some photos that we trust convey a sense of what this amazing weekend was like. The Lord so blessed us! You can read more about it, here.

We were in Jerusalem for a couple of days before the Weekend and were able to visit the City of David, which excited us with the thought of standing on the grounds of “original Jerusalem”. So we’ve started this slide show with some photos from Jerusalem and hope it excites you as it did us.

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Thank you for standing with us in prayer for the Encounter Weekend for the folk of Shevet Achim. We have just arrived home and we are in awe and wonder at the Lord’s favour and answer to all of our prayers. He has been gracious and answered us above all expectations. We have been so privileged to have had the Presence and power of the Lord with us all at Beit Bracha and to see him at work, moment by moment, in the lives of individuals.

We, ourselves, “worked” through a very large part of the three days. Yet we are refreshed in all of our being, because it’s been like riding and being carried by a wave of the Holy Spirit’s ministry.  Whilst we have given out, we have also received so much in return, from the evident work of God in breaking through in so many lives.

From what we know about, we’ve seen:

–      deep rest and restoration in spirit, soul and body for all who came;
–      the Holy Spirit releasing words of knowledge that pierced the chains of capticaptives to set them free;
–      deliverance of a believer in Jesus from the control of the spirit of Islam (a legallegacy from their previous allegiance);
–      freedom of another from the bondage of a long held sin;
–      awakening of a deep passion for the Lord in another;
–      healing from the consequences of childhood “orphaning” in spirit and soul, for ofor others;
–      reawakening and restored vision for God’s calling, for some;
–      a deeper and fresh grasp of God’s love and rich blessings
–      the Holy Spirit’s direct breakthrough in some, without another person’s involinvolvement

In the words of some of the folk:

“Thank you for helping to prepare an atmosphere to meet Jesus in deeper ways. I believe that from this point on I will walk in a new level of freedom that I have not experienced as a believer.”

“This weekend was one of the best in my life. It really brought restoration to my life and God’s presence was so powerful.”

“… there were moments when tears flooded my eyes when the reality of my Saviour’s presence was in the place.”

“.. the teaching has been amazing, insightful and revealing of the deeper truths of Scripture … the entire Shevet family was treated like sons and daughters of the King.”

“I just want to thank the Lord for providing the perfect rest … (this weekend) strengthened me and enabled the Holy Spirit to draw me closer to my Father.”

“It felt like unwrapping a lovely gift from the Father – planned with great thought and care and presented in love.”

We were truly privileged to be drawn along by the Spirit as he knit together the whole weekend. There were some last minute rearrangements and even these were clearly of the Lord. They enabled a batter balance of free time and also allowed us to invite Paul and Jess to join us from their work in Haifa. Our invitation to them came the same morning they were asking the Lord for an opportunity for a break for spiritual rest and refreshment. Not only did they receive what they asked for, buy the Lord used their gifts to free us for other ministry and they also introduced us to a song called “Restoration” that spoke right to the heart of what God was doing.

Thank you, again, for your support in prayer and also to all who helped towards sponsorship of this event. Your partnership in this encouraged and enabled us to keep going. The folk of Shevet truly appreciate what you have done, not just because it helped towards making the weekend possible, but more so because it enabled a door of God’s grace to be opened to them, from which that have benefited with riches in abundance, pressed down and running over.

Thanks and glory, to our God! He is good!

To see some photos of the Weekend, click here.

If you’d like to read Shevet’s own comments, click here.