And there was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher.She was very old, having lived with her husband seven years from her maidenhood, And as a widow even for eighty-four years. She did not go out from the temple enclosure, but was worshiping night and day with fasting and prayer. And she too came up at that same hour, and she returned thanks to God and talked of [Jesus] to all who were looking for the redemption (deliverance) of Jerusalem. Luke 2: 36-38 AMP
"The Prophetess Anna," by Rembrandt
Mary and Joseph took Jesus to Jerusalem after their purification, and they presented him before the Lord. At this time, Simeon and Anna come on the scene. These two divine appointments, although obscure in their brief mention, were by no means insignificant!
Just as Simeon was prophesying that the child in his arms was God’s salvation, up walked Anna.
We are told much about Anna’s history. She is a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, and from the tribe of Asher. Anna’s name means “gracious” and her father’s name means “face of God.” Included in the blessings spoken over the tribe of Asher was the promise, “as your day, so shall your strength, your rest and security, be.” Deuteronomy 33: 24-25 AMP. Certainly, this applied to Anna, a widow of 84 years!
Although none of her prophetic words are recorded, imagine the amazing promises she may have proclaimed and rejoiced over in that moment.
Anna was a worshiper. In fact, that is who we are told she was even before we’re told she was a woman of fasting and prayer. In the face of significant losses early in life, she chose to enthrone the Lord on her praises. Anna did not allow her losses to dictate the course of her life. Rather, she chose to have a grateful heart, an undivided heart, and the Lord rewarded her and opened her eyes to behold Emmanuel, God with us!
Surely the decades she spent worshiping, night and day, with fasting and prayer had developed her deep love for God and an intimacy she enjoyed throughout her life. Worship catches the heart of God; it draws Him near, and changes the atmosphere around us.
Anna spoke of Jesus "to all them in Jerusalem that were looking for redemption." Here He is! All your expectations and joy are to be found in this Baby! He is Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace!
May you, like Anna, worship Him this Christmas season. For He alone is worthy!
by Debra Neybert, Training Specialist
"For the love of Christ controls us..." -2 Cor. 5:14
Do you feel the weight of this simple, yet other-worldly profound phrase from the Apostle Paul?
As someone who's neck-deep in the difficulties, sorrows, and burdens of others on a day-in, day-out basis for the sake of the gift and the Giver of life, you certainly know something of this weight.
But what keeps you going? Why take on this weight?
Why immerse yourself in a work that promises to be exhausting, confounding, and--at least sometimes--totally deflating?
Because, as Paul says, "the love of Christ controls us." We get a better picture of what this dynamic phrase means as the Apostle unpacks its meaning in the words that follow:
"For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised." (2 Cor. 5:14-15)
Why continue laboring in this field? Because the very love Christ had for lost sinners like us when he submitted himself to death for our sake is on full and glorious display when you sit across the table from a newly expectant mother who carries the weight of the world on her shoulders.
Love--more specifically, the love of Christ--is your language as you come alongside a woman who's mind, as one center director put it, "was only abortion." Love is your language as you take the time to help her slow down and truly consider her options, as well as the ramifications any choice she makes could have on her long-term physical, mental, and even spiritual health.
Why continue to hope--against all odds, it seems--that your words and very demeanor could change somebody's world and literally make the difference between life and death? Because the love of Christ controls us, and you no longer live for yourself, but for the sake of him who was raised.
Love is your language as you hope in Jesus, the ultimate Victor over sin, Satan, and death in all its forms. Love is your language as you communicate the unbelievably good news of peace and restoration with God through the death and resurrection of Jesus in a thousand ways to each client and family your center serves.
Love is your language when God gives you a glimpse of His ultimate triumph over death, as a family embraces a child they otherwise may have lacked courage to welcome, if not for you.
Take heart. The sacrificial, triumphant love of Christ is ours by faith. Ours to receive, and ours to extend.
Israel said to Joseph, “I never expected to see your face again, and now God has allowed me to see your children too. (Genesis 48:11)
The Lord’s promises are sure to come to pass, for He is a loving and faithful God. Jacob never expected to lay eyes on his son, no less his grandchildren. From his perspective Joseph was gone forever. But God!
As we look forward to a new year, expect the love of God to surprise you! It’s a year to taste and see that the Lord is good!
In Genesis 48, Joseph was told, “Your father is ill.” Concerned for his father, Joseph travels with his sons, Manasseh and Ephraim to see Jacob. Approximately 17 years earlier, we are told that Jacob had made Joseph a richly ornamented robe because he loved him more than any of his sons for he had been born to him in his old age. The robe symbolized his father’s love, favor, and the future destiny the Lord had for him.
His brothers became jealous of him as a result of this favor and because of the revelation he received in dreams. They attempted to take his life, but God intervened through his older brother Reuben! Instead, Joseph, and his dreams were thrown into a pit, and then into prison.
Now we must remember, in Jacob’s heart, he believed he would never see his beloved son again. He “had proof” that a wild animal had torn Joseph to pieces. He witnessed with his own eyes the robe dipped in blood. Joseph entered a time of exile, but when the prison doors swung wide 13 years later, the man who emerged looked very different than the young man who was originally thrown into a pit.
He was now prepared to fulfill the dreams and destiny the Lord gave him so long ago! Get ready for the Lord to resurrect and release what has been imprisoned in your life!
What a sweet surprise Jacob received from the Lord in his latter years, not only was he restored to his son, but he was given the opportunity to bless the next generation, his grandsons! As this year unfolds, expect the love and goodness of the Lord to overtake you. For truly, He desires to bless you abundantly, above all you could ask or think of!
So expect the unexpected, and taste and see that the Lord is good!
"In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another."
1 John 4:9-11
“In this the love of God was made manifest…..” We have all heard it said, “Actions speak louder than words.” This is a true saying! God’s love language manifested louder than words….because in John 1:14 it tells us The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. God with us, Emanuel!
So much of God’s love is communicated through His loving actions toward us. First and foremost He gave; He gave what was most precious to Him, His only Son.
How do we comprehend such love? God’s covenant love for us includes all His benefits. He is absolutely 100% committed to us, desiring for us to enjoy all the blessing that are ours in Christ. Those in relationship with God in the new covenant have many spiritual blessings as new creatures in Christ Jesus. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 1:3
Those spiritual blessings express God’s love for us, and some are listed in Ephesians 1; we have been chosen, adopted, and accepted in the beloved. We are redeemed, forgiven, and have become part of His perfect plan and purpose. In addition, we are laborers together with God (1 Corinthians 3:9); we are ambassadors bringing the message of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:20); we are the bride of Christ (2 Corinthians 11:2).
We have peace which passes understanding (Philippians 4:7); we prosper in every way and keep well, even as our soul keeps well and prospers (3 John 1:2); and we have the assurance that nothing is able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:39).
The word for "covenant" in the Old Testament comes from a Hebrew root word that means "to cut." The death of Jesus ushered in the new covenant under which we are justified by God's grace and mercy. Jesus' sacrificial death served as the oath, or pledge, which God made to us to seal this new covenant.
In 1 Samuel 18 we are told that Jonathan makes a covenant with David because he loved him as his own soul. In verse 4 it tells us that Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David, and his apparel, even to his sword, and to his bow, and to his girdle.
Similarly, Jesus in covenant love for us, stripped Himself of His robe, His majestic apparel (John 13), and laid down His life for us. There was a divine exchange. “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangs on a tree: that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” Galatians 3:13
The Father gave us His only Son, and now we have the ability to live, and to love through Him, to love others because He first loved us. Let our language and speech become a conduit of His love.
by Debra Neybert
Debra Neybert, long-time friend of Heartbeat International and former Heartbeat employee, is presenting an In-Depth Day at the 2019 Heartbeat International Annual Conference called Spiritual Retreat: Joy Comes in the Morning. This In-Depth Day is designed to instill great hope (confident expectation of what God has promised) in the hearts of participants as they journey toward personal wholeness and fulfillment. The day will include topics listed, worship and personal time with the Lord. See other In-Depth Day options and more information about this year's conference in Dallas by clicking here!
Then Noah built an altar to the LORD and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it. The LORD smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done … I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth, whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. (Genesis 8:21 and 9:13-15)
by Debra Neybert Training Specialist
Noah’s name actually means rest or resting place. We see evidence of this word fulfilled in Genesis 8, when the Lord promised never to curse the ground again or destroy all living creatures as he had done in the flood.
The Lord then gave the covenant sign of the rainbow to assure us of His promise, which reminds us we can rest assured that all the promises He has made to us will come to pass!
Scripture tells us the ark rested on the mountains of Ararat after a 150 days (Genesis 8: 4). The use of the term “rested” is significant, because the Lord could have used another word to express the way in which the ark landed on the mountains, but very clearly in the original language it means, to rest, settle down and remain.
The Lord is emphasizing rest.
He desires to bring us to a place of rest in Him. “There is a place of quiet rest near to the heart of God,” one hymn declares. There may be some rivers to cross and valleys to travel, but He always takes us through to the other side so we can lie down in green pastures and find a place of rest and comfort in Him.
Circumstances may flood our lives like the deluge of Noah’s day. But the Father’s way involves not uprooting us in the midst of the flood, but—much better—uprooting those things that stand in the way of our knowing and understanding God's great love for us, so we can rest in Him.
May the Lord comfort you in your labor and give you rest!
He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Psalm 23:1-3
Jesus is our faithful Shepherd, and one of His promises is to lead us in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. This verse is very encouraging because it holds a key to help us cycle out of the old and into the new!
Some paths may not naturally appeal to us because they lead us into a place of discomfort, but because the good Shepherd is leading, we can trust His paths will guide us from glory to glory.
The word for paths is actually taken from the Hebrew root 'agol’, which means to be round or a cycle. David is saying the Lord leads us or guides us in the cycles of righteousness. When we remain on the paths of righteousness, we will see the fulfillment of God’s purposes and plans for our lives. We often think of life as a linear landscape, but the Lord takes us in paths that are cyclical.
The Lord’s intent is to give us opportunities to advance each year, breaking old cycles and coming full circle into His blessings.
These paths are intended to give us a clearer revelation of who God is as a covenant-keeping Shepherd. Jesus is our righteousness, and He is able to keep us moving in the right direction for His name’s sake—for His reputation, His fame, and His glory.
The Lord has already gone before us and cleared the paths of promise and fulfillment. He is the Door, and when we enter by Him we are led in and out (on paths!) into green pastures where there is rest, refreshment, and refuge (John 10:9).
Jesus is the Way where there seems to be no way, and He guides us in the right paths to fulfill the dreams He’s placed inside us from all eternity!
Angel Visits Hagar in the WildernessGiovanni Lanfranco c.1620
Recently, in considering how many times the Gospels say, “Jesus saw” someone, often a woman, I was reminded of the Name of God, El Roi. That is the only name first ascribed to God by a woman.
Hagar was a pregnant outcast in the desert when the Angel of the LORD came to her. After this encounter, Genesis 16:13 says, “she gave this name to the LORD Who spoke to her. ‘You are the God Who sees me.’ For she said, ‘I have seen the One Who sees me.’
Isn’t it interesting how little girls want to be seen? “Mommy, watch what I do!” … “Daddy, did you see me?” And it’s this name that is given by a woman. El Roi saw Hagar. El Roi sees you. He sees you when you go into the center on a rainy day, expecting no one to come. But you will be there, just in case.
He sees you as you gently and lovingly listen to a girl pour out her broken heart—a story you’ve no doubt heard before. He sees you as you give formula and diapers. He sees you extending the Heart of Jesus through your hands.
Take heart! God sees you. And, because of His Son’s bloody cross and empty tomb, He is pleased.
Dottie Wobb, founding Executive Director (now retired) of Hope Pregnancy Centers of Broward County (now Hope Women’s Centers). Her anointing and experience has taken her across the nation and beyond, teaching and training on women’s and pregnancy help ministry.
By Terri Fox, Heartbeat International
“Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. Let the redeemed of the LORD say so,Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy” Psalm 107:1-2 (NKJV)
The headline read: “Last Abortion Clinic in Toledo, Ohio Closing on Wednesday.” As I read the article, posted July 29, 2013 at LifeNews.com, memories danced around the outer edges of my conscience.
In early July, 1983, I made the 45-minute drive from my home in a small northern Ohio town to that clinic. Dressed in a pale yellow pullover, khaki pants, and tennis shoes, I was alone, abortion-bound, and ashamed.
I felt abandoned and fearful, yet obedient.
Obedient because I could not bring myself to question the awful decision I had agreed to. My voice was buried beneath layers of paralyzing emotions, which pushed me to follow through with the abortion, hoping no one would find out.
Almost mechanically, I went inside that clinic, filled out the forms, took the valium and waited. Soon, the procedure was completed, and I sat in “recovery.” I returned to my car and cried. I was overcome by the oppressing guilt of knowing I went in as two, but came out as one.
I knew what I had done was wrong. I was broken.
For a fee of $200, I had surrendered the life of my unborn child, as well as my soul. I left the parking lot and drove myself to work.
In another July, 13 years later, my 4-year-old son was killed in a car accident as he and my husband returned home from a Promise Keepers event. While grieving the loss of my son, I realized I had never fully grieved the loss of my aborted child or dealt with the shame and guilt that had been my tireless task master.
Then one day, I came upon this priceless message in John 8:
So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?”
She said, “No one, Lord.”
And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”
Although I had confessed my sins and accepted Christ as my Savior in 1992, I had never fully accepted that His forgiveness covered my abortion too. Christ’s words penetrated my heart as I read His word, and at that moment, I finally understood God’s complete forgiveness and His mercy.
Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross had redeemed all of me from the hand of the enemy, not just the sins I thought he should forgive. I fully accepted His gift of forgiveness.
Now, 30 years later, as of July 31, 2013, that abortion clinic in Toledo, Ohio no longer has a transfer agreement with a local hospital, and is facing closure. I give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy has endured. By His blood, He redeemed me. God rescued my aborted daughter out of the hands of the enemy and held her in the palm of His hands.
Today, both my children are in heaven, singing songs and praises to the Lord.
Join me in singing songs of praise and thanksgiving to the Lord for the imminent closing of the last abortion clinic in Toledo, Ohio—along with so many like it, across the U.S. Join me in praying for that building and land to be redeemed for the glory of God.
Join me in praying for every man and woman who has been wounded, crushed, and blinded by that clinic. Join me in praying these precious souls will be restored to wholeness, and redeemed.
Then, join me in telling your story of redemption to someone who needs encouragement and hope. I am redeemed by the blood of the Lamb! I love to say so!
Have you been redeemed? Then say so!
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.” -1 Peter 4:12-13
The Apostle Peter, whose lack of preparation for a fiery trial was once exposed the moment the rooster crowed, warns his beloved brothers and sisters against making the same mistake all throughout his two short letters.
There is much for us to learn as we engage in the type of day-in-day-out spiritual struggle involved in every Christian’s life and ministry.
In the course of just two verses—1 Peter 4:12-13—the Apostle corrects our initial, earth-bound reaction to suffering and attacks, while pointing us to a truly Christ-glorifying, gospel-informed vision for responding to “fiery trials” of any kind.
Remember, says Peter, we’re engaged in a spiritual struggle. That suffering and attack should come our way ought to be about as shocking to us as enemy fire is to a soldier in a dug-out trench.
“This is strange,” says the soldier in the thick of battle. “Who on earth is firing on us? What are they so mad at us for?”
No, says the Apostle, “do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you… as though something strange were happening to you.”
As those called to rescue those who are perishing, we ought never to forget Whose side we’re on.
This is the God who “works all things together for the good of those who love” him. He doesn’t needlessly bring opposition and suffering our way, and no attack from the Enemy ever reaches us on accident or without our Father’s express permission (see Job 1).
God always has a purpose, and part of His purpose for “fiery trials” is testing—refining, purifying, sanctifying—His people.
But that’s not all this text has to teach us. Preparation and awareness of our surroundings, important though they may be, don’t tell the whole story of a gospel-informed vision for responding to attacks. The key is found in verse 13—don’t be surprised, but rather, rejoice!
Remember when the Apostles—including Peter—were beaten up and sent away by the synagogue leaders in Acts 5? Luke, the writer of Acts, tells us, “Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.”
We share in that tradition when others attack us for holding fast to the gospel of life. What an honor! What a cause for rejoicing in the God who, for the sake of His Son, calls us beloved and adopts us into His family forever through our faith in Christ.
We rejoice because our present suffering points us to that Day when the glory of the risen Christ will be revealed. He suffered once for our sin and salvation, and each time we face a “fiery trial,” we share in that suffering with Him, as we’re beckoned to rejoice and be glad that One Day we’ll see Him as He is.
How do you respond when you’re attacked?
by Jay Hobbs, Communications Assistant
by Debra Neybert, Training Specialist
But My servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land into which he went, and his descendants shall possess it.~Numbers 14:24 (Amplified Bible)
When the 12 spies returned after 40 days of “scouting out” the Promised Land, 10 spies reported their observations through a lens of unbelief. The other two spies, Joshua and Caleb, had a different report In particular, Caleb states the following:
If the Lord delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land flowing with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against the Lord, neither fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us. Their defense and the shadow [of protection] is removed from over them, but the Lord is with us. Fear them not. (Number 14:8-9, Amplified Bible)
What a powerful declaration Caleb made in the face of tremendous opposition! We, like Caleb, continually face giants—both internally and externally. Even in recent days, decisions have been made in our land that would seem overwhelming and might cause us to wonder, “Will we overcome the giants and fortified cities?”
If we look forward with the spirit of Caleb and Joshua, to “claim the territory” of our inheritance, then the very giants who loom so large will become “our bread.”
Caleb had “a different spirit” about him. Those who follow the Lord with their whole heart are aligned with God’s victorious nature! The idea of a “different spirit” also denotes one who pauses or has a second thought. In other words, Caleb chose his response wisely.
Caleb saw with the eyes of faith! Faith always gives a good report, because faith sees what God sees—the victory! When we see through the challenges to the victory, it causes us to persevere until we possess the promise. In reference to Moses, the scripture says, “By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.” (Hebrews 11:27)
Caleb saw past the fortified cities and giants to Him who is invisible! Faith doesn’t minimize the difficulties of our circumstances, but it also refuses to focus on them. Faith’s focus is, rather, on God, who is mighty in battle and always causes us to triumph!
The Lord eventually brought Caleb into his Promised Land, but it wasn’t until 45 years later. He patiently waited, as did Joshua, for the generation who remained in unbelief to die in the wilderness. When it came time for him to possess his inheritance, he said to Joshua, “give me this mountain” (see Joshua 14:12!).
There were giants on that mountain! But Caleb obtained his inheritance, not only for himself, but for his descendants too! Never give up!
Perhaps you have been waiting a long time to fully possess your Promised Land and giants are blocking your view of Him who is invisible. Our difficulties are really opportunities for God to show Himself strong on your behalf!
In reality, those giants who stand before us were disarmed at the Cross and in the Resurrection. May we, like Caleb, see—through eyes of faith—the giants as our bread, as we enter into our Promised Land!
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