The Trump administration announced on Sunday the first stages of the peace plan roll-out, confirming that it will host a workshop in Bahrain in late June to focus on more direct economic investments of the West Bank and Gaza.
The gathering, formally dubbed the “Peace to Prosperity Workshop,” will take place on June 25-26 and will be attended by several Gulf Arab States, as well as Arab partners for peace all over the region. The goal of the conference is to build alliances for peace and relationships for major economic investment in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with backing by the United States and the Arab world.
In recent weeks, Jared Kushner, senior adviser to U.S. President Donald Trump, announced that the peace plan would begin unveiling in June, after Ramadan. This is the first indication that the Trump team will release the first portion of this ambitious and highly anticipated proposal to resolve the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
By holding this barrier-breaking conference, President Trump and his administration have “trumped” the Islamic Mafia. The expression “Islamic Mafia” refers to the Islamic entities that have held back the Arab world and peace in the Middle East for decades, such as the Muslim Brotherhood.
I myself have seen the righteous work President Trump is doing. Earlier this year, I met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh, as well as with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan in the United Arab Emirates. These two princes have been part of the catalyst for bringing about a new future and a stronger Middle East. Their fight has been quiet, but powerful…reforming institutions at home and building bridges for peace in the region.
In the span of a year and a half, I have met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi three times. President Sisi has broken through the barriers, giving statements of support to the State of Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. President Sisi’s closer relations with Israel, his fight against terrorism and extremism in North Africa, and Egypt’s overthrow of president Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood are just a few examples of changing ties in the Muslim world.
Thank you, President Donald Trump and the Trump administration. While there are many who are blind to the virtue and moral clarity this president has shown in the Middle East, there are some of us who have seen it up close and honor him for it. While the chances for peace have always been touted as unlikely, President Trump has overcome the ultimate challenges and will set the Middle East on the path to peace with his ultimate deal.
The Search for a Lost Sheep
In the parable of the lost sheep, the Good Father is the shepherd who searches for the one that has gone astray—but not before He made sure the ninety and nine were securely tucked away in the sheepfold. Parables are word pictures, often taken from actual happenings, which provide a moral and/or spiritual lesson. It is a memorable means to teach a truth, making it more palatable to wicked men and women and more understandable to those with little skill for reading or writing.
The Good Shepherd didn’t abandon the lost sheep; He went in search of the one. The sheep didn’t know it was lost; it was simply enjoying the richness of grass found perhaps near the edge of a precipice. It is reminiscent of a painting by Alfred Soord, a British artist whose most noted work pertains to this parable. It depicts a shepherd clinging to the edge of a cliff while reaching downward to snatch a sheep back from a disastrous fall. Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep” (John 10:11 NKJV). The sheep was not seeking the shepherd; the diametric opposite was true. The shepherd had gone out into the night to seek and save the wanderer. It is not necessary that you and I mount a comprehensive search for the shepherd.
He was in the midst of the Red Sea with Moses, atop Mount Moriah with Abraham, in the stone that David hurled at Goliath. God was in the pit with Joseph, in the lions’ den with Daniel, and in the fiery furnace with the three Hebrew children. He was in the garden with Jesus and in the dungeon with Paul. In Psalm 139:1–7 (NLT), David penned these words regarding the omnipresence of the Good Father:
“O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord. You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand! I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence!”
The sheep has no awareness of the pitfalls, precipices, ravines, and rivers that lie before it. Its focus is only on sating its appetite. The shepherd is intent on only one task: finding the lost sheep. The sheep has no part in its salvation—that role is reserved solely for the shepherd. He is the one who is diligently searching for the sheep.
In His search for us, our precious Lord was betrayed, beaten, bruised, battered, and then put to death. We are captured by the horror of the depths to which He had to go; and yet, the tomb was not the end of the story. Three days later, He arose!
What is forgiveness? Simply stated, it is giving up my right to hurt someone else for having hurt me. Forgiveness, like the law of gravity, is one of the foundational principles God has woven into the fabric of our universe. We can choose not to forgive, just as we can choose to ignore the laws of gravity, but we do so at our own peril. Forgiveness means bestowing freedom instead of the punishment my abuser deserves. Forgiveness means giving love and understanding when the enemy expects only hatred and revenge. Forgiveness means turning over to God my desires to blame, defame, and punish my offender. I cannot be released from my offender or from the anger-arousing, shame-evoking, esteem-shattering memories connected with his/her offenses against me until I accept wholeheartedly God’s way of forgiveness. Forgiveness is a releasing, transforming experience.
Time spent tending the foul crop of hatred, resentment, and grudges is time spent in futile, senseless pain. So, hurry to forgive as soon as you are offended…before the first root of bitterness begins to take root. Even though you extend love and forgiveness to your offender, you have no guarantee that you will not receive evil in return. Jesus commanded us to love our enemies, and love is not some temporary strategy or a clever form of manipulation. Love is supposed to be the Christian’s way of life.
When we extend forgiveness and show love, we have no guarantee that our offender will repent or beg our forgiveness. But we are not responsible for the offender’s actions. We are only accountable for our own. We must beware of pressuring ourselves or others to forgive and forget. Forgiving does not change the past. Facts are facts; events happened. The past cannot be altered, but when we truly trust God’s promise that He makes all things work together for good, the meaning of the past can be changed, and the painful sting can be removed from our memories.
We must not struggle to hasten the process of healing by attempting to force forgetfulness. Stubbornly insisting that forgetting must come first is like trying to pass the final exam before you have enrolled in the course. Constantly fretting and trying to forget just short-circuits and undercuts the healing process. Although God sometimes heals instantly, removing all the pain, guilt, and grief in one miraculous moment, for most of us the healing process takes time. You and I can will ourselves to forgive, but only God can make us forget. And what is it that we forget? The memories themselves? Probably not. But God helps us forget the raw, stinging pain of those memories.
Gradually, the memories that pop into our minds begin to decrease in frequency and intensity. No longer do we constantly recall, rehash, and relive the events. Instead, as the healing process nears completion and the last of the poison is drawn from our souls, we find ourselves occasionally recalling the memories, but in a vague, detached sort of way, almost as if the experiences had happened to someone else. They no longer have the power to infect or agitate. If you have been unable to escape the pain of the past, take a moment to meditate on these beautiful words from missionary Amy Carmichael:
- “If I say, ‘Yes, I forgive, but I cannot forget,’ as though the God, who twice a day washes all the sands on all the shores of all the world, could not wash such memories from my mind, then I know nothing of Calvary love.”
Never doubt that your Good Father can perform that wonderful, cleansing work within you.
Is America in prophecy? While skeptical of attempts by many to link the United States to prophetic interpretations, after many hours of research, I am totally convinced that the U.S. can be found in prophetic Scriptures, though not mentioned directly by name. The thread began in the Old Testament with Abraham and his offspring, Isaac and Ishmael. All too often, the U.S. has tried to join hands both with Israel, a descendant of Isaac, and Arab countries, descendants of Ishmael.
The United States has endeavored to employ Israel, the tiny democratic state in the midst of a sea of instability in the Middle East, as a firewall in deterring communism, fascism, and terrorism. At the same time, we have established liaisons with Arab countries of convenience and economics. The mortal enemy of Israel brought a dowry of black gold (oil) to the marriage and uses it still today to intimidate the United States.
Israel is surrounded by enemies and must be allowed to root out the terrorist organizations that threaten. The war on terrorism will never be won as long as Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, and the Palestinian territories remain points of exportation for suicide bombers. The dissemination of media propaganda that enrages the masses from adjoining Arab countries must also be stopped. True hope for peace lies in discerning truth and acting on it, not in believing myths propagated by liberal power brokers that incite Jew-hatred. There is, I believe, a direct correlation between current events in the Middle East and prophecy.
The United States is still the mightiest nation on earth and has long been a partaker of God’s blessings. During the past few decades, America has seen her culture polluted, attempted to dethrone God, and defiled her heroes. Bible-believing Americans have been demonized as bigots and extremists. God has been taken out of schools, courts, and town squares, and some have even tried to remove Him from the Pledge of Allegiance—“one nation, under God.” The same moral compromise infecting our domestic policy has also tainted our foreign policy: the U.S. sends foreign aid annually to such terrorist-harboring countries as Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Pakistan, West Bank/Gaza, Indonesia, and Somalia.
If Americans do not wake up to the truth, the U.S. political machine will continue on a collision course with prophecy. Many believe there is nothing we can do about it—that if it is foretold, it must come to pass. However, we could be missing the true point of prophecy. The Bible doesn’t tell us what the future holds so that we can sit back and let disaster strike, but rather so that we can take any necessary actions to make sure we are on the prophetic side of blessing.
In the Old Testament, God often warned His people of impending disaster—not just so they would know it was coming, but to give an opportunity for repentance and restoration. It is up to God-fearing Americans willing to step out and make a difference to keep our country headed in the right direction in both domestic and foreign policy.
Encourage yourself in the Lord. In 1 Samuel 30:6, we read that although David was greatly distressed, he encouraged himself in the Lord. Let me ask you this: Who says we must depend upon each other for encouragement? The world around us is totally co-dependent; it knows nothing of the Good Father’s Word and His ability to encourage and strengthen us. There is a dynamic truth in the Lord Jesus Christ and in His Word that you learn when you are discouraged. Let me give you an example: When you die, I can’t do anything about it. No one can carry you through the valley of the shadow of death, except Jesus. This is a private matter between you and Him. You can reach out to people for support, but there is a great difference in having a support system and being co-dependent. Encourage yourself in the Lord.
Ephesians 3:16 says, “That he would grant YOU, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man.” Verse 20 says, “Now unto HIM that is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think according to the power that worketh in us”(capitalization added). One of the main reasons some Christians live in continual defeat is because they are ignorant regarding the sovereignty of Christ. They have not developed an intimacy with the Lord Jesus Christ. They do not walk and talk with Him. How can you encourage yourself in the Lord? The only way is to spend time with Him.
You cannot be encouraged in the Lord if you are not nurturing your relationship with Him. You encourage yourself when you are walking with the Lord. If you are going to walk in the kingdom of God on a daily basis, you cannot make the church or any individual your source. You cannot make your wife or your husband your source. No one can be your source but the Lord. If you make the Lord your Source, you will have a breakthrough. Encourage yourself.
Get alone and begin quoting Scripture and saying the same thing that God says about you. The fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control; they are not rejection, a bitter attitude, or a desire to play childish games with people. Love will begin to flow from you—unconditional love. There will be peace, contentment that comes when you are settled, a sense of calm, a quietness or stillness in your spirit—and there will be strength. Why? You have encouraged yourself in the Lord. You have built yourself up by your relationship with Jesus.