The Greatest Encourager I know.

I have taken a series of posts from my idling blog site Kairos Now to share an example of answered prayer.

June 12, 2012 by Mannyr

The Greatest Encourager I know.

I want to share an experience in Christ for the purpose of showing how much those of us who have received the free gift of salvation come to understand little by little just how much of an encourager God in the person of the Holy Spirit is to us.

Having been born again and experiencing the reality of the living presence of God dwelling within me I desired above all things to know Jesus in a very intimate way. Little did I understand that I had been set up. Prayer had gone up on my behalf from family and friends as well as strangers whom I had never met.

Prayer changes things is a truism known only to those who draw near to their God in intimate conversation.

I need to digress a bit in my experience. I grew up running the streets of San Francisco California in a couple of gangs. Except for the presence of God, I felt as a boy of five in a store front church which my grandfather pastored, I never knew God. But I had felt His presence. Twenty-eight years later that presence had come to life within me.

After a while that first love of Jesus began to diminish on my end because of my need to grow up in Christ as He directed my steps in daily life. To say the honeymoon was over in my experience brought dark clouds of guilt. In fact, I remember telling Him “Lord, I am addicted to your presence” in the hope I could just park there indefinitely; of course, the Lord explained that He would always love me, but the time had come to start the process of growing His grace.

A few months later the Lord prompted me to watch a certain Christian T.V. program with two Jewish Rabbi’s in their robes sharing their desire for prayer for a Russian Jewish man who had been imprisoned as a spy and a Soviet dissident.

I am stopping here because I have to replace a hot water heater that had the gall to fall apart according to my wife after eighteen years of service. So, come back tomorrow for part two.

Mannyr

June 13, 2012 by Mannyr

The Greatest Encourager I know.

 

Part two

I don’t know how you feel about the process of growing up in the Lord. As for me, it meant the lessening of His presence. This of course meant that the addiction to His presence would be replaced with the uncertainty of the world I had lived in prior to being born-again.

As a thirty-eight-year-old man externally, my inner man needed the very nature of the Spirit of God to be my encourager.

Acts 9:31 says, Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.  The word here in the original is paraklesis; a calling alongside to help, to comfort, to give consolation or encouragement. The paraklete is a strengthening presence, one who upholds those appealing for assistance.

By this time in my walk I had learned that conversation (prayer) with my Lord overrode all the old ways and brought a sense of peace which washed over me and spoke volumes to the inner rage of uncertainty.

I would like to share an act of encouragement from my Lord for the purpose of building a desire to mature in Him through His presence.

 

On a cold day in February of 1982 I sensed the Lord calling me to prayer. I prayed as I walked home from my job at an equipment rental yard in Kingman, Arizona. The mile and a half walk went fast, and I experienced a breakthrough in prayer.

Later, that evening after dinner, my wife having bathed our daughters they waited for Dad to read a Bible story. We set a half hour time limit on the reading due to questions asked and answered.

Having settled in for the night I did a little channel surfing with the television remote and settled on a Christian television station. Two Rabbis’ in colorful robes told a story about a Russian Jewish man who had been imprisoned as a spy for the United States and for activities as a dissident. After the program ended I sensed again the Lord calling me to prayer.

As soon as I yielded He spoke to my spirit and said, “I want you to pray for someone, I know you have trouble with remembering names, so I will just give you his first name.”

Okay Lord what is it?” “An-a-to-ly.”

I repeated it several times until I felt I could remember this unusual name.  “Lord, who is this?” “He is the man those Rabbi’s spoke about who is in prison in Russia.”  “How do I pray for him Lord?”

“Pray for him, just like you do for the men and women you minister to in the County Jail. Except I want you to pray for him like a member of your family, daily.”

The leading’s to prayer came very strong at times. Often leaving me feeling like I were there with him in his cell. I felt his depression, the darkness of the oppression and most of all his sense of hopelessness. The fact that I ministered in the County Jail kept me in an attitude of compassion.

At these times I prayed in praise and worship to our Lord and would sense a lifting of the heaviness and an impartation of joy and strength.

After a few months the Lord spoke to me again and said, “I want you to know Anatoly’s  last name, it’s Sha-ran-sky.” I prayed using his full name when coming boldly before the Throne of Grace with my petition for his needs, and Anatoly when praying for family. As sand through an hour glass the years rolled on.

One night in February of 1986 ( four years later) I happened to be watching the evening news when a man was shown hurrying up a ramp onto an airplane and Walter Cronkite said,

Today Soviet dissident Anatoly Sharansky after serving nine years in prison has been granted freedom and flown to Israel.”

I could not believe what I heard, tears filled my eyes and the presence of the Lord was like a heavy blanket of comfort.

I thanked our Lord for the sharing of his heart’s desire and the privilege of praying for Anatoly. I shared this experience with my wife and daughters to show how perseverance teaches wonderful truths.

All prayers are answered. The most important part, it brings intimacy with Our Heavenly Father that builds a solid trust that prayers can change Nations as well as people.

Three days later I found a newspaper account of Anatoly’s release, it read like this. Early on a cold and windy morning a Soviet Official spoke to political prisoner Anatoly Sharansky and said. “Walk straight to Freedom!”

A man of deep moral courage and integrity Sharansky smiled from ear to ear and took his first step as a free man. As he crossed the Glinecke Bridge in East Berlin he proceeded to walk zigzag across the bridge in keeping with his life as a Rufusnick.

Like a young David, he met and conquered The Soviet Goliath with his obstinate refusal to quit speaking for human rights and of Soviet Jews to emigrate. He arrived at a hero’s welcome in Tel Aviv, and the waiting arms of his wife.

I lost track of Anatoly Sharansky over the years until I read an article about a man named Natan Sharansky who had written an autobiography entitled: Fear No Evil and also co-authored a second book The Case For Democracy.  President G.W. Bush having read The Case for Democracy invited Mr. Sharansky to meet with him in the Oval Office in November of 2004.

Shortly after that, President Bush’s second inaugural address contained many thoughts that had been expressed in Mr. Sharansky’s   book.

In his writings I discovered he has personally met five President’s and also with President-elect Barack Obama. It is humbling to see what our Lord had planned for this man of great moral courage.

Tomorrow: Part three.

The Greatest Encourager I know. Part three

June 14, 2012 by Mannyr

The Greatest Encourager I know.

Part three

The story of Anatoly Sharansky is one of faith overcoming all opposition. It is far more than one man’s struggle against the forces of evil played out by an evil and fearful nation. It is the very heart of  almighty God sharing His heart with a servant who needed to be encouraged. There are many small as well as large things that I have learned from this adventure.

First and foremost is the fact that our Lord desires to have intimate fellowship with us as individual’s in which He can teach us that intimacy with Him is progressive.

The Gospel of John 13:16 says, “Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him.”  We are first like a servant in the sense that we do what our Lord asks us to do in the role as a servant who listens and obeys his master.

Then as we grow in our obedience we come to second stage of intimacy. John 15:15 says, “No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I hear from My Father I have made known to you.”  Here is where we are in a different place in our walk and He shares things with us like we do with our friends.

John 20:17 says, Jesus said to her, Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.’ ” Our Lord Jesus plainly speaks in these passages a progressive intimacy that we can walk in with Him by the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit of God. The last stage is one where we are family and all things can and should be shared.

The encouragement of Anatoly’s story came as an example for me to learn and grow in the ways of our Lord. To share with Him in His desire for us to set ourselves aside and seek Him on behalf of others. This selflessness leads to intimacy in that as we pray we feel and sense the other person’s burdens. This is very real not some church doctrine or creed. It is the active participation of you and you Father.

So much can be said here. For example, try this yourself, in prayer ask the Holy Spirit if He would give you someone in the world who has no relatives, friends or neighbors who can tell him about Jesus and who Jesus is. Set yourself aside and pray for this person whom you do not know or may never know.

I had never heard of this man Anatoly Sharansky who lived in Russia and is Jewish. Just the name says volumes, I could never think up such a name. It is no coincidence that I was given the opportunity to pray for a man in prison in the worst conditions. Many of us are in prison’s in our daily lives. Many may stay for life and never come to freedom and intimacy with our Lord this need not be.

Our Lord Jesus on the cross said, “It is finished.” It is finished Amen! But you and I must appropriate what has been done for us as individual’s. Come on an get some encouragement from the Man from Galilee.

 

 

 

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