New Year’s resolutions worth making
The year 2018 according to the Gregorian calendar is almost over and the New Year is fast approaching. It’s a time when many people make what’s called “New Year’s Resolutions” meaning they want to make a big change in their lives starting on the first day of January. The idea is to make a new start in the new year. Of course, most people don’t stick to their resolutions very long, but just the same, the start of a new calendar year is a good time to try and make a positive change.
There’s two resolutions I’d like to suggest that we all make in the new calendar year, the first being to spend more time becoming familiar with the Word of God and the second to becoming more physically healthy and fit.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 says; “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”
Every single human being walking this Earth’s surface has work to do, something God has specifically called them to do. It is by reading the Word that we become trained and equipped to do that work.
A tool I’ve discovered that helps me maintain a habit of daily Bible reading is the “One Year Bible.”
I’m so old-fashioned that I actually have a paper version of the One Year Bible that I read every day but for those who have made the leap to an all-digital lifestyle there’s the “One Year Bible” app, as well as many other options including an email with the daily reading in it and even the possibility to order an old-fashioned paper Bible if that’s what you’re into. It’s all available at this website.
Whichever option you prefer, now is a great time to take advantage of it because as the 1st day of the new calendar year approaches, it’s the perfect time to start the “One Year Bible” journey which will, as the name implies, take you through the entire Bible in a single year.
The second resolution, to “get in shape” is something that the Bible has a lot to say about, for example;
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says; “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.”
Romans 12:1 “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship”
God gave me and you a body so that we would be able to do the work He has called us to do in this world, and it’s our responsibility to keep our bodies in good working order so that we can do that work in the best possible way. As a bonus, keeping ourselves healthy and fit will allow us to enjoy nearly everything about life more than we will if we don’t take care of our bodies. It will also allow us to live longer and therefore take advantages of more opportunities to serve Him, help each other and care for our own families and communities.
The best system I’ve found for taking care of my physical health and fitness is HASfit. It’s literally a “mom and pop” website run by a man named Joshua Kozak and his wife Claudia, who take users through aerobic and weight training workouts of varying lengths and intensity. It is a family-friendly, highly flexible and varied system suitable for anyone from the age of six to one hundred and six. All you need to do is watch the youtube videos and do what the Kozak’s are doing. They explain everything and take you through each step.
The link to the Hasfit website can be accessed HERE.
As Yogi Berra famously said “predictions are hard, especially about the future.”
That having been said, it’s safe to say that in 2019 and beyond, it’ll be very important for Believers to be familiar with the Scriptures and physically healthy and fit. I hope you’ll join me in resolving to make pursuing these goals a priority in the New Year.
Aaron is a member of Jerusalem Assembly, House of Redemption.
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Living in the Holy City
As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” Proverbs 27:17
Not too long ago I drove somewhere with a colleague. Every time we encountered a bothersome driver along the 30-minute drive he would bless them. He would say a quick prayer over them & their family and pray that they’d arrive at their destination safely. I was inspired.
You see, Jerusalem might be the Holy City but just like in any big city around the world, traffic can be a nightmare. Their roads are simply not wide enough for the number of cars. It is a real problem & the city is working hard to solve this. Road construction is going on everywhere, which makes things worse before it gets any better.
What makes dealing with traffic in Jerusalem even more stressful are the Jerusalem drivers! Living in the Holy City does not automatically make one holy. All around the Mediterranean Sea live is lived more passionately and it influences the driving style. It is more ‘intense’. Add to that the stress of living in a country under the constant threat of terror & war and you start to get an idea of how it is to drive in the Middle East.
One of the things I love to do when driving is listening to worship music. When I am alone I love to sing along. Life is busy and having a moment to praise the Lord uninterrupted is a real blessing
So there I would be, singing along, praising the Lord, and suddenly someone would cut me off. Now I have never been one to use rude language or curse, but I would interrupt my worship to honk my horn and yell at the other driver (who could not even hear me, because they’d be in a different car). And instead of arriving at my destination with the peace in my heart that comes from praising the Lord, I’d arrive bothered & frustrated.
For a while, I would just blame the situation, if only there wasn’t traffic if only the other drivers would be calmer, if only…. But my inability to take control of the situation kept bothering me. I didn’t want to let this get to me. I wanted my commute to be a moment of spiritual refreshing. I wanted to change. And while God can change anyone and anything, even Jerusalem drivers, the only one I could change was me. I just didn’t really know how.
God answered my prayers by having my colleague show me a different way to deal with my frustration at the traffic. Instead of yelling and letting it steal my joy, I too could bless the other driver. I could interrupt my singing with a prayer. I could defuse my frustration by seeing the other driver as a person worthy of God’s love.
And while there continues to be traffic in the Holy city, my commute has become a whole lot better, because God used someone else to help change me.
This article originally appeared on CBN Israel, December 12, 2018, and reposted with permission.
Since its establishment in March 2012 CBN Israel has helped thousands of people through its various operations. As the foundation of Project Light Shine, CBN Israel gives help to the community through three avenues; Humanitarian aid, education and economic development. CBN Israel serves with a spirit of humility and love. Their mission is to prepare the Land and the people of Israel for the coming of Messiah Yeshua and the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth. The vision of their work is to see the hungry fed, the needs of the needy met, businesses established and to improve the spiritual, physical and financial situation of the local body.
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Messiah has come!
What joy and hope this gave to those who heard the good news/glad tidings when the angels sang, and the Israeli Jewish shepherds in the field heard the joy of the Father in Heaven over the birth of His only-begotten Son, Yeshua, the King of Israel! And what comfort and expectation it gave to those who were waiting for the long-anticipated Messiah whom God first spoke of to our first father and mother in the Garden of Eden! In the sovereign wisdom of God, this expectation and hope were not fully fulfilled at the birth of the Lord, or even during His life and death and resurrection; no, that fullness of the Law and the Prophets waits for the return of this same Yeshua/Jesus to return in great power and glory, to be Lord of every man, and to whom all must confess that He is YHVH! What a glorious day that will be, and the new song to be sung by the saints and the angels!
Israel was living in a low state at the first coming of Messiah; from God’s viewpoint, Israel and the saints are also living at a low point in world history now, as the spirit and forces of evil conspire together still against YHVH and His Anointed One — against His people Israel/ the Jewish people and against those good things which the Christian believer testifies to through the gospel to the world. Both Jesus and Israel are signs spoken against, and the cause of the rise and falling of many in Israel/in the Church/in the nations, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. (Heb. 4:11-13) Jesus is being relegated to at best one of the holy men in history; at worst the very devil himself. Israel is increasingly being regarded as a failed experiment or as an evil invader. It is worth noting that the third woe, mentioned in Rev. 11:14, is the coming again of Jesus to judge the opposers to Him and His Kingdom, and to reward those who have been faithful to Him, as He comes to set up His Kingdom on the throne of David, as one of the key covenantal promises made by YHVH.
Anti-semitism is openly rising; anti-Christian attacks on all that is good and right is increasing; truth is being thrown to the ground as lies and deceit become “equivalent”. Praise God for the truth of Messiah being Jesus/Yeshus, and His plan and victory will prevail! Nations will continue to slide toward “coming against Jerusalem” — even if for now some governments are demonstrating support — but believing Christians who believe what God has said through the whole of the Bible must speak up and out. If not us, who? Israel is an island surrounded by a sea of Gentile powers and empires that have always sought to take its land and destroy the people. We want as many as possible people to be saved now; and as many as do not, then that they would become sheep rather than goats when the Judge makes His separation for who is in, and who is out, of His soon-coming Kingdom. Please pray how you might become a prophetic voice in these darkening days, and not to get caught up in divisive quarrels.
Yeshua’s Inheritance Congregation will have it’s celebration of the birth of Yeshua this coming Shabbat. As a congregation we will have no tree, no songs about jingle bells, nor of a white Christmas. Our desire is to honor our God and Savior in spirit and truth, and thank and praise Him for what He has done, what He is doing, what He will do, and for who He Is. Individual families may choose to follow certain traditions in their own homes. We encourage them to do so to the glory of Jesus, exalted above all other things. On Sonday, Randi and I, with some others, will again go to Bethlehem to worship and celebrate with our brothers and sisters there at a church which does not particularly like Israel. We have been doing so since 2003 during the second intifada. But we are there as faces and names to them, and they are faces and names to us: reminders that our Father has redeemed children there and here. For the sake of the testimony of who Jesus/Yeshua is we go: we must show that Jesus is our peace and reconciliation, even when times are tense and difficult. If we can not do that when things are not well, then we have no message to our people even when they are. It is the grace and mercy of God that moves us. Please pray that we would continue to have an open door to enter the ‘other side’. The Kingdom of God does recognize boundaries, and in the Spirit we can respect them, and cross over.
This article originally appeared on Streams in the Negev, December 15, 2018, and reposted with permission.
Howard Bass is the congregation pastor/leader of Nachalat Yeshua (Yeshua's Inheritance) in Beer Sheva, Israel.
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My story of overcoming rejection
I felt lost! I could not feel the love of God. I felt He was disappointed in me.
I did not pray enough, I did not evangelize enough, I did not read His word enough, etc. I felt that there was a certain peak I had to get to each day in order for Him to love me—in order to feel good about my self.
And because He had taken away His presence (yes, He took his presence from me—I will explain later), I could not feel Him—I couldn’t pray. I actually felt oppressed when I read His Word. I could not connect with him and, thus, I felt like a complete failure.
Why would God do this to me?
God did this to me! But, why?
This was my experience for a year and half. It began about two years after I came to Yeshua. And I needed it because I did not understand His gospel.
I had it backwards. You see, I thought, if I am good enough, He will love me. If I work hard enough, pray, evangelize, read the word—then I was at peace. I would pray for an hour looking at the clock. That is not prayer! That is not relationship! I don’t sit with my wife in the morning over coffee like a robot—asking her how she is, while waiting for the clock to hit one hour. But that was my relationship with God.
No, we do not earn His love. The Bible doesn’t say that He loves me because I love Him! It is states clearly that, “we love because He loved us first.”(1 John 4:19) Furthermore, Romans states that when Ron Cantor was still a sinner, Jesus died for him. (Romans 5:8).
Yes, the way He expressed his love for me, when I did not love Him, know Him or care to know Him, was to die a gruesome death for me. There is not a greater expression of love. Yeshua says, “There is no greater love than a man lay down his life for his friends.”
But I was trying to earn God’s love. This was because I suffered from rejection. It came from my father. He was very cold and closed. I never felt much emotion from him. I can’t remember him smiling at me, telling me he loved me or was proud of me. I was jealous of my friends and their fathers. Dads are supposed to be an example of God to their children, to show them what He is like. As a result, I felt rejection in all my relationships.
(Amazingly, today, my dad and I are best friends! When I was a kid, he didn’t talk and now I can’t shut him up! I love it!)
When I came to faith, it all disappeared. I thought it was over. I felt the love of God. Yet, God wanted me to deal with the root problem. I remember the day it all came back. I was talking to a leader in our congregation and he said something to me that projected rejection. It came into me like a blanket, and I could not get rid of it. It followed me to Bible school.I shared the gospel. I worked harder than everyone else, but not for the right reasons.
Root of Pride!
This works mentality came from two places: rejection and pride. I wanted to be the best believer there was! I would work harder than others. I didn’t like verses like 1 Corinthians 15:10 where the apostles said, “I am what I am by the grace of God.” No, I wanted the credit. I wanted my rewards in Heaven!
So, God took all my zeal away for the next year and a half. I didn’t want to do anything for God. I knew it was Him, but I didn’t know what He was doing or why He was doing it.
Massive Inner Healing
And, then, I met John Sheasby. He was our guest speaker for the week and he worked in inner healing. When I met him, I was completely broken. We spoke for four hours and, by the end, I was crying. He ministered truth to me. He explained that there was no way for God to love me more than He already did. As I said, he demonstrated his love for me by dying for me when I was a dirt bag!
He loves me if I pray or don’t pray; if I share or don’t share. Of course there is work to be done, but not to obtain the love of God. I learned that we do those things as an expression of gratefulness to God for what He has done for us. I obey Yeshua not to get something, but because I love Him.
Is God mad at you?
I have found that most believers feel that God is a little bit mad at them. Often, most who feel this way minister out of their deep need for acceptance, not out of love for God. Many think they are in ministry to get affirmation from the congregation. Many write and preach to hear the praise of men because they are not whole. When you are whole internally (spiritually and emotionally) and know your worth before God, you do not need the praise of men.
Sadly, many ministers have abused the people of God in their desire to serve God! They are so (unintentionally) focused on feeding their wound of rejection and looking for acceptance, that they can even be downright mean.
I once said, regarding a leader I knew, that he loved the visionof his congregation so much that he was willing to kill the peoplein the congregation, not realizing that they are the vision!If you don’t love the people, you don’t really love the vision.
Why do you do what you do? To impress others? To find God’s love? Or to say thank you to Jesus for all that He has done?
What if you lost it all?
Here is the question: what if you lost everything? What if your spouse left you, your kids turned on you, the congregation hated you, or your boss fired you? What if every source that feed your self-esteem turned against you? For me, that would be writing and preaching. What if instead of encouragement, I started seeing large numbers unsubscribe from my blog?
How would I respond? Would I still be secure in God? Would I still have the confidence and self-worth that I possess today?
I think of Job. After he lost everything, he said, “The Lord gives and takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Even when his wife said,“Curse God and die!” he continued in faith.
You see, so many people find their worth in what they do: Their job, the place of respect in the community or their nearly perfect family. But if you lost it all, would you still know your value before God?
That is when you know your soul is healed—when your worth comes from His love for you, not because of what you do.
This article originally appeared on Messiah’s Mandate, December 14, 2018, and reposted with permission.
Ron and wife Elana make their home in Tel Aviv. He serves on the pastoral team of Tiferet Yeshua—the Glory of Yeshua—a Tel Aviv-based, Hebrew-speaking Messianic congregation. Ron is a published author with Destiny Image Publishers, having written books like “Identity Theft”, “Leave Me Alone, I’m Jewish” and “The Jerusalem Secret”. Ron is a sought-out conference speaker and shares passionately about the Jewish Roots of the New Testament and God’s broken heart for His ancient people Israel.
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PARASHAT VAYIGASH (AND HE APPROACHED)
BERESHEET (GENESIS) 44:18–47:27
In my previous blog entry, His Perfect Plan (Pt. 2), I wrote that in the same way Joseph knew his brothers, but they did not recognize him until an appointed time, so it is with Yeshua our Messiah. He knows His brothers (i.e. Israel, the Jewish people), but Israel as a whole will not recognize Him until an appointed time which God alone knows:
And I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him, like the bitter weeping over a first-born.
In this week’s reading, Joseph reveals who he is to his brothers in a very moving account, which is recorded in Chapter 45. I would like to address two important points in this portion.
The first one is found in verse 5:
And now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life.
Joseph was able to recognize the reason for what he went through, which had nothing to do with him, but that rather through this difficult experience, God intended to “preserve life” (i.e. to save Israel). Messiah Yeshua also suffered a similar experience. As I’ve written before, there is an incredible parallel between Joseph’s life and that of Yeshua’s. God allowed Yeshua to go through what He went through in order to “preserve life” as well, however in this case, not just Israel but also the entire world:
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.
The second thing I’d like to point out is Joseph’s incredible heart. His heart, fully summited to God’s plan, was full of forgiveness and grace. Joseph had every right to be angry with his brothers for what they did to him, and to show them no mercy. He also could have been angry at God! However, Joseph had a deep understanding that everything he had gone through was for a purpose. He knew that God allowed it to happen, and instead of being angry at God for all that he had suffered, he kept a soft heart toward Him.
But this is a choice, my brothers and sisters! Not allowing our hearts to grow hard and bitter toward God is something each one of us must choose. Is there an area of hurt in your past that you still choose to hold on to and not forgive? Or perhaps you are angry at God for allowing you to suffer as you did? May I suggest that you think for a moment what would be if Yeshua our Messiah did not forgive the wrong that was done to Him? (Luke 23:34)
I never want to lessen the hurt that anyone has endured, but I also want to encourage you to remember that God allows certain wrongs to happen in our lives, so that through them, we can follow Yeshua’s example, submit to His plan, and display His amazing love and forgiveness to those who hurt us. There is an immense amount of freedom when you choose to forgive and show grace. It’s not easy, but it’s always worth it.
This article originally appeared on Hope for Israel and is reposted with permission.
Moran is the Founder and Executive Director of Hope for Israel, which is a service and resource-providing ministry that aims to bring the hope of the Messiah back to Israel. It is also a resource center for current and timely news updates concerning Israel that provides daily prayer alerts, Bible teachings, and weekly blogs in order to help believers across the world understand what God is doing in the Land, how to pray for Israel and filter everything through the Word of God.