My Christmas Miracle…

Christmas Day.  The alarm rang at 9am and I looked outside.  Rain.  Lord, it isn’t supposed to rain till this afternoon, I complained. The thought of going into the City to Union Square to see the Macy’s tree and ice skaters, something I love to do each Christmas, in the cold and rain made me want to climb back into bed.  But no, I knew I had a divine appointment, so I dressed warmly and ran for the train.

Christmas Eve, I had visions not of sugar plums dancing, but of meeting my husband-to- be over the skaters park, perhaps a surprise rendezvous.  I had asked the Lord for a husband and a car for my Hanukkah/Christmas miracles, not necessarily in that order, and he had promised me a Christmas miracle the next day. I knew the time was getting short until He brought that special man into my life and hoped Christmas day would be it!

Cold, freezing winds met me at the San Francisco train depot. I pulled my jacket tightly around me and hopped on Muni (the bus). I got off at Powell Street, seeing a man peeing in the street, a typical sight in San Francisco’s panhandler area.  Merry Christmas, I thought to myself.

As I walked past the line of tourists waiting for the cable car ride over the hill, I began to see the beggars on the street.  Compassion started to fill my heart and I rustled through my change purse for some money.  I usually give a $1 and a Billy Graham tract entitled “Peace with God” as food for their soul.  What use is giving money when I can give the gift of Jesus and salvation instead?  I blessed the first young man with the lost look in his eyes, praying God would bless him that day.

I have been studying the concept of blessing in my Beth Moore Believing God Bible study. Today’s lesson was on using our tongue to bless God and others, not to curse, but to bless.  I wondered as I sat on the train watching the familiar scenery go by, why do we have to bless God?  Doesn’t He have everything He needs?  I know we are to praise Him, as He is our King and Lord, our Holy One.  So I pondered over this.  Beth states God SPEAKS His blessings over us, using our names.  I envisioned Him saying this morning:  Miriam, I bless you with meeting that special man today.  WOW, I could just picture it.  There is such power in our tongues and while we don’t have the supernatural power God possesses when He speaks, we can use our tongues positively by quoting Scripture and using Jesus’ name to move mountains and bless others. (Mark 11:23, James 3:10)

As I hurried up Powell Street to Union Square, looking for a place to get my hot cocoa to sip while I watched the ice skaters and waited on my husband, I glanced to my left.  There sat a dejected young man who looked on the verge of tears.  “Iraqi Vet, need some help” his cardboard sign said.  My heart was instantly pierced with compassion for him, but I was out of change.  I saw a Starbucks open up ahead and went in.  Miriam buy that man a sandwich and tell Him I told you to do so, I heard the Lord’s voice whisper to my heart.  I picked out a ‘grandma’s turkey and dressing’ sandwich, got my hot cocoa and returned to the young man.

Hi, what’s your name? I asked.

John, he replied,  He was shivering without a warm coat.

My name is Miriam and I am a Christian,  I said.

I am a Christian too, he replied.

God promises us we will not have to beg for bread, so what’s going on? I asked.

I lost my job and am living in my truck.  I need a master cylinder for my truck and I am trying to get the money together, he responded.

Here’s a turkey sandwich, the Lord told me to buy it for you. He looked gratefully down at the sandwich in his hands, placing it on top of his garbage bag belongings.

Do you know about City Impact, a Christian rescue mission nearby in the Tenderloin?  I asked.

No, he softly replied.

They have a breakfast of pastries and coffee with a service in the morning, and a homemade dinner in the evening, all free.  They have bible study in the afternoon and you can hang out there out of the cold. I used to volunteer there to pray for the homeless.  They are just over on Jones and Turk streets,” I told him. They are even having a big Christmas dinner today.

His eyes got big and he excitedly told me Thank you Miriam, I will go there.

He shared some more with me that he suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and had shrapnel from the war, with no family to help him.  Well, you have the family of God to help you John, and you were my divine appointment for today.  God heard your prayers and saw you sitting here, and brought me up from San Carlos to help you find your way.  Tears came to my eyes and his.  I offered to pray for him and then hugged him.  I went into the nearby McDonald’s and returned with a hot coffee for him.

Thank you again, Miriam.

Tell them at City Impact Miriam sent you! I cheerfully replied.

As I walked away it happened.  A small flame of fire ignited in my heart and the love and compassion of Christ flooded me. Contentment and peace filled my heart. The joy of Christmas exploded in my soul. I silently blessed the Lord for allowing me to be His hands and feet to bring a Christmas miracle of hope to this lost little lamb of His.

Ice Skaters at Union Square, San Francisco

As I stood in the drizzle watching the ice skaters go round and round, reflecting on the beauty of the tall Christmas tree with its gold and red bulbs, I realized God had given me the best Christmas present ever.

I am a missionary by calling, and there is nothing that makes me happier than sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ and reaching out to those lost in homelessness and mental illness.  I was once in that place myself, having returned from the mission field after being traumatized by people in the occult.  I fought a different type of war than my friend John, a spiritual battle and war with the enemy of our souls, the Devil.  I came home with a clinical depression and PTSD, lost in the blackness of my mind.

My family, not wanting to be financially responsible for me, dumped me on the County mental health system, abandoning me to a shelter.  Not just any shelter but a psychiatric shelter  Think drama. I share this part of my story in my pre-published book Running from the Witches:  How the Redemptive Love and Power of Jesus Christ Healed My Life.  Stay tuned for chapter 7 –  One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest)

I could relate to John’s mental illness, his being down on his luck, needing the hand of Christ to pull him up. God allowed me to go through that darkness and homelessness so one day I could help another in the same situation. What Satan meant for evil, God meant for good (You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. (Genesis 50:20))

Just last evening, I told the Lord how much I missed hands on ministry and praying for people one on one.  And then today, He gave me this opportunity with John.  Do I believe God had me get out of my warm bed just to go to the City to meet up with John and be the answer to his prayer?  Yes I do.  And in my faithfulness, I was blessed in return.  As I walked away after giving John his coffee, another homeless man begging for change said to me God bless you for doing that. I knew God had given me my Christmas miracle, I had indeed met a special man. I had set out to get a miracle, instead I became a miracle for someone else.  I got back on the train, thanking, and BLESSING my Lord, for now I understood the concept of blessing; a blessing will always comes back to bless you.

Will you pray for John and others suffering homelessness and mental illness? The next time you see one on the streets, take a moment and speak to them and find out their story.  Most are hungry and you can buy them a meal and be their blessing for the day.  After all, that is what Jesus would have done.

How has God blessed you this holiday season?  Leave me a reply…

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The Light of the World…The True Meaning of Hanukkah

Hanukkah Candles called a Hanukkiah - 8 candles plus the 'shemesh' or servant candle that represents Jesus (Yeshus) The servant candle lights the other candles giving 'light' to the world, as Jesus does.

 

As I write this post, the cold night air stings my face from my open window, allowing me to hear the Holiday Lights Celebration going on in my hometown of San Carlos, California. Soon they will flip the switch and the holiday lights crisscrossing above the main street will light up along with the Christmas tree in City Park.

Strains of “I wish you a Merry Christmas” float through the window as I hear the squeals of children playing in the artificial snow, even though we celebrated sunny, 70 degree weather today. I hear the ‘toot toot’ of the little train that will take them around the block.  I wish I could squeeze in a car and go for a ride too!

Toot Toot!

Reminds me of another “Festival of Lights’ that starts tomorrow night, December 8th, Hanukkah!  As a Jewish believer in Jesus, I celebrate Hanukkah as well as Christmas.  I believe in celebrating all the Jewish Biblical Feast days, as Jesus did, and he was Jewish too!  Jesus, or Yeshua as He was known throughout His life, celebrated Hanukkah, known as the Feast of Dedication.  We find the Scriptural reference in John 10:22-23:

“And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter. And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon’s porch.”

Every year at the Feast of Dedication, the huge menorahs (Jewish candle holders 70 feet tall) in the temple courtyard were lit and could be seen from all over Jerusalem, the glow was that bright. Some bible scholars believe Jesus said “I am the light of the world, He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness but have the light of life (John 8:12) as he walked in the Temple, the light from the huge menorahs overshadowing him.  While in the temple some of the Pharisees (Jewish religious leaders) questioned Him as to whether He was the Messiah. Jesus replied:

“I told you and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of Me.  But you do not believe, as you are not my sheep, as I said to you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.  And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any snatch them out of my hand.  My Father who has given them to Me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.”  (John 10:25-30)

That’s a lot of promises if we believe in Jesus as our Messiah, our Light of Life.

He promises to: Dispel the darkness we walk in through our sin and addictions.  Give  the light of His love and Word through Scripture.  Be a shepherd to follow like the stumbling sheep we are.  Allow us never to perish, or taste death, but to have Eternal Life.  To be forever in the presence of Him and our Heavenly Father.  To shine the ‘Light’ we receive for others stumbling  in the darkness.

Hanukkah is really about Yeshua being the “light of the world.” He represents the ‘shemesh’ or servant candle that lights the other candles on the Hanukkiah. For He gives us all light. He came as our Servant Messiah to offer us forgiveness for our sins through the cross. (Isaiah 53: 4-6))

Traditionally, when we light the Hanukkah candles for eight nights, we celebrate the great miracle of God that happened in Jerusalem during the Maccabean Revolt of the 2nd century BCE. The Syrians had desecrated the Jewish temple by sacrificing a pig, an unclean animal, on the altar.  When the Jews recaptured the Temple, the temple priests found only enough oil to last one day.   God did a great miracle by making it last for eight days, the time it took to clean and rededicate the temple back to God.  In Hebrew we say, Nes Gadol Haya Sham, “a great miracle happened there.”  And indeed it did.

Spinning the Dreidel, a Hanukkah game with the four Hebrew letters that represent the phrase "A Great Miracle Happened There"

A bigger miracle can happen in your heart and life right now. At Christmas time, we celebrate the miracle of the baby boy born in a manger in Bethlehem, who grew up to be the Savior of all, the Prince of Peace and Emmanuel “God with us.”  Will you dedicate the ‘temple’ of your heart to receive the light of eternal life in Jesus this holiday season?

Pray with me:  Dear Jesus.  I ask that you take the darkness of my sin and replace it with your light to shine deep within my heart.  I believe you died on the cross for my sin and rose from the dead, with the promise of eternal life with you in Heaven.  I ask you to be my Savior and Lord over my life today. Thank you for loving me with an everlasting love and giving me peace with God through you.

Angels rejoicing in Heaven

Angels are rejoicing over you right now if you prayed this prayer. Welcome to the family of God.  May you experience the true peace, the peace of Jesus, that comes at this season of miracles.

Please reply to me if you prayed this prayer and asked Jesus into your heart so I can rejoice with the angels over you!

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