Pray for our leaders and the April elections in Israel
Our nation has elections coming up on April 9, 2019. Whatever your political allegiance might be, God’s word instructs us to pray for those in authority.
I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Saviour, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. –1 Timothy 2:1-4
When the first believers prayed together the ground shook and captives were set free.
Starting on the March 1, I challenge you to commit to pray for the next 40 days for our nation and the upcoming elections. Pray for integrity in our leaders. Pray for righteousness. Pray that our leaders would seek God’s wisdom and follow God’s paths. Pray for favour for the Messianic and Christian believers. For more suggestions, request a free copy of the pdf prayer guide 28 Days of Prayer for Nations from firstname.lastname@example.org
If you want to pray with other believers, we will be meeting online from 8-8:30pm every day. Join when you can. It’s a team effort, and we value your prayers for our nation. We are not praying for a political party or agenda. Praying in Hebrew, Arabic, Russian, English and Amharic welcome!
For details on how to join the online prayer, please contact Wendy Halloun email@example.com
Wendy Halloun lives on Mount Carmel with her husband Sharbel and their four children. She is passionate about the Word of God and equipping fellow believers to be anchored in the Word of God and flowing with the power of the Spirit. Her book, Identity in Messiah is releasing February 2018. Find out more on wordsofclay.com
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How to cope with turbulence and uncertainty, according to an Israeli soldier
“Get up! Get up now!” The soldier had become somewhat used to being woken up like this in the middle of the night, but the shock never wears off. Eli HaiTov was serving in the Search and Rescue Brigade in the Israeli Army. They needed to be trained to be ready for action at a moment’s notice, and so the “surprises” came thick and fast.
Even when it would more natural to be groggy with sleep, they would obediently jump up, put on their uniform – orange berets and black boots, along with a heavy vest of equipment – and off they would go. Most often they had no idea what would be waiting for them, or how long it would take. They plunged into the dark, into the unknown.
The Search and Rescue Brigade is a highly skilled force trained to execute special search and rescue missions, both in Israel and abroad. In order to maintain the high standards necessary, the training was tough. These are the ones that other soldiers and civilians depend on for help in an emergency.
Dealing with the unknown
One of the toughest parts of the training was deliberately throwing the soldiers into the total unknown – a complete lack of certainty. They did not know where they were going, or what they would have to do. One time they were dropped Eli and his unit off in an abandoned wasteland for three days. They learned to survive on four hours of sleep. It was important that they were fully trained and experienced to deal with situations that are very challenging for the human mind.
Uncertainty, instability, insecurity… whichever word you choose, a lack of clarity is difficult for every human being to deal with. But just as the IDF drills soldiers by plunging them into the unknown, so God trains us to walk with him, asking us to trust him without knowing the details.
God girds us with strength for battle in our minds by stretching our faith muscle. Here’s how David expressed it in Psalm 18:
God girds me with strength
and makes my way straight.
He makes my feet like those of deer
and makes me stand on my heights.
He trains my hands for battle,
so my arms can bend a bronze bow.
You gave me the shield of Your salvation.
Your right hand upholds me,
Your gentleness makes me great.
You broaden my steps beneath me,
so my ankles have not slipped.
God, like a good commander, plunges us into situations that develop our ability to cope, come what may. We might feel as if he is withholding help, information, or provision from us. But perhaps he is not taking away from us, but rather GIVING to us. He furnishes us with skill to endure as he teaches us how to walk with him. He makes our feet like those of a deer, able to stand in high places.
By taking away our safety nets and our crutches, God forces us to depend on the only reliable source of strength and help: Himself. And suddenly we find capacity beyond what we even thought was possible.
For with You I rush on a troop,
with my God I scale a wall. (v.30)
Keep your eyes on the horizon
As has become something of a tradition for an Israeli soldier, Eli went traveling after his army service. It was while he was exploring Norway’s beautiful lakes that he discovered that he gets sea-sick. He was in a boat, and in the dark he was unable to fix his eyes on any stable point. The turbulence got the better of him. As anyone who has suffered with motion sickness will know, the internal conflict your body experiences and loss of inner balance can be very unsettling. Your body doesn’t know what is going on, and nausea ensues.
The solution is to find a stable point, and keep your eyes fixed upon it. The horizon is usually the answer.
So in life, we realise sooner or later that nothing is stable. Nothing is certain. There is no secure place that we can truly rely upon other than God himself. When uncertainty and insecurity swirl around us, and unsettle our souls, fear can arise.
Insecurity is basically fear. And the opposite of fear is faith.
But the author of Hebrews confirms that the way to strengthen our faith muscle is to fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.
Jesus is our horizon.
He is our source, and he is our destiny. We are encouraged to fix our eyes on the final outcome, just as Jesus himself did when contemplating the cross.
As true disciples, we are here to serve in God’s army – we are not civilians – and we are being trained to withstand whatever may come. We are subjects of an unshakable kingdom, and our future is 100% certain. We might protest at the rigorous regime God puts us through, but when we are made strong for him, we can serve like a well trained soldier in his elite search and rescue team.
“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:10)
Today Eli HaiTov works with ONE FOR ISRAEL, as a researcher and writer for our Hebrew-speaking audience. Eli loves to worship God, and you can listen to his music here.
This article originally appeared on One For Israel and is reposted with permission.
ONE FOR ISRAEL strives to be the leading organization in sharing the Gospel of Yeshua the Messiah with Israeli Jews and Arabs in the Hebrew language. Our staff is comprised of both Jewish and Arab Israelis, with the shared belief that true peace in the Middle East can only come into existence under Yeshua.
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A search for Jewish roots (Part 2)
(Part I can be viewed here)
One area that reflects our connection to the Jewish roots is our relationship with Israel. Can there be room in our theology for the Jewish people now and in the future, or should they be relegated to the past? In his book, Messianic Judaism, Messianic Jewish theologian David H. Stern stated that the biggest schism to take place in Church history was the breach between the Church and the Jewish people during the first centuries. That breach happened for various reasons. The Church played her part, as did the Synagogue, and blaming “the other” doesn’t lead anywhere. It is much more fruitful to ask: What did we Christians lose? Is there something we might regain, or rethink, after all these centuries?
Biblical Feasts – a Shadow of the Eternal
For some believers, a practical way of honoring Jewish roots is celebrating biblical feasts. The feasts can be a veritable treasure trove in many ways, increasing our understanding about God’s salvation plan as recorded in the bible. However, the bible gives Gentiles full freedom concerning the observation of such festivals, as well as the Sabbath. Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of a feast day or a new moon or a Sabbath day: which are a shadow of the things to come; but the body is Christ’s. (Col. 2:16-17 ASV) The festivals are a shadow of eternal things and things to come; as such, they are good. They point to a much greater reality. We shouldn’t understand Paul’s comment as a negative or diminishing statement about celebrating Jewish feasts, but as a reminder to keep our ultimate focus on Jesus. Studying the feasts’ rich biblical content is beneficial for every Christian; and whoever so desires is also at liberty to experience them together with Jewish believers.
Staying Grafted in the Olive Tree
Paul wrote much about the relationship between Jews and Gentiles in Romans 9-11, painting the image of the cultivated olive tree. In Messianic Judaism, David H. Stern explained the symbolism of this picture in a way that is different from the traditional Christian understanding: The roots of the tree are the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The trunk is the people of Israel, with Jesus the Messiah – the most important member of the nation – at the core. The original branches are the Jews, and the Gentiles, the wild olive branches, are grafted into the tree. Lying on the ground near the tree are some original branches, cut off due to their unbelief. Instead of being church-centered, this picture is actually very Israel-centered, and that has very often been a difficult idea for the Church to grasp. Many churches live, function, teach, evangelize and do missions without Israel. They think of Israel as having performed and fulfilled her main role in the Old Testament, but that after Jesus’ resurrection, she became obsolete. Contrary to this mindset, appreciating your Jewish roots could mean being aware of the whole we are always a part of, and remembering the common roots, which nourish us all. We Christians are called to accept and value the eternal election of the nation of Israel. You do not support the root, but the root supports you (Rom. 11:18). A branch, or a tree, cut from its roots doesn’t live long.
Need a New World View?
I would like to propose a Christian world view where Jews also figure into the picture. The election of the Jews as a chosen people did not vanish after Jesus came, nor has it somehow been reconstructed into the calling of Christians. (Although it is obvious that the Jewish people cannot really fulfill their calling until they receive Messiah.) God’s faithful character demands that he honor his promise to realize the destiny of the Jewish people. The Jews haven’t only been instrumental in bringing Jesus into the world; they are also the first recipients of his love and promises. The scriptures have many prophesies about the return of the Jewish people to their homeland and the great end-time outpouring of the Holy Spirit over the nation. God will keep the Abrahamic covenant with its promises to Israel, as well as to the Church. As Christians, we have to embrace today’s Jews, not just at the level of friendly dialogue between two different religions, but rather as central players in God’s future plans.
Restoring the Jewish Church
I believe that as we draw nearer to the end, we will see God bridging the gap between the Church and the Synagogue. In their book Israel, the Church and the Last Days, Messianic teachers Keith (Asher) Intrater and Dan Juster describe the development of end-time events: False Christianity will fall prey to rising anti-Semitism, but the true believers will become increasingly aware of the Jewish roots of the faith. Right now, God is already restoring the Jewish wing of the Body of Messiah. More and more Jews are coming to know their Messiah.
The Messianic movement will be the crucial link between the Church and Israel. However, both Messianic Jews and Gentile Christians have their role to play in this healing process. God is calling Jews and Gentiles to live out the spiritual truth about the One New Man (Eph. 2:11-22). Many churches are still quite oblivious to the events which are about to take place. Some of them still struggle with the basic idea of Messianic Judaism and Jewish believers who refuse to “convert to Christianity”. Concerning some aspects of Christian theology, reassessment is needed in order to make room for following Jesus in a Jewish way within the Body.
According to Intrater, there is a special, powerful dynamic in the cooperation between Jews and Gentiles in the New Covenant congregation. Many Jews receive salvation and revelation for their spiritual lives through Gentiles. On the other hand, as we near the end times, Jewish believers are bringing a particular depth of understanding into the Body of Christ, with regards to the end-time prophesies and the restoration of the Jewishness of the Church. Keith Intrater states that if we all want to walk in the fullness of God’s plans for us, we must humble ourselves and receive from one other.
Jews and Gentiles – Members of God’s Family
The Jewish roots of the faith are not a matter of any individual’s salvation, though they are a matter of the Church’s future. This world is full of pain of rejection and envy. It creeps into our relationships, even in the body of Yeshua. Throughout Church history, the identity of Jewish believers has continuously been invalidated. However, according to Paul, Jews are called to remain Jews, even when following Jesus (1 Cor. 7: 17-20). At the same time, Gentiles are valued as Gentiles, loved and chosen by God. Being Gentile is not a secondary status, some kind of concession from God. It is a unique calling which brings along full rights in the commonwealth of Israel (Eph. 2). Faith in Jesus is enough. Both Jews and Gentiles are called to see their backgrounds as a blessing to live out their faith in this world.
This article originally appeared on Caspari Center, December 20, 2019, and is reposted with permission.
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Humanitarian aid goes blue and white
It is a privilege to give. Once we experience the joy of giving, a desire springs inside of us to see even children learn and understand how much richer we become when we share what we possess.
For decades many Jews and Christians around the world felt prompted in their hearts to give towards Israel – first to help it grow as a nation making the desert bloom, then also to support those who arrived in the land with not much more than the clothes on their back.
As the young nation was getting re-established in their ancient land, the harsh conditions could have made it what one might call “survival of the fittest”. However, that did not happen.
How was it averted, you may ask? In major part, it was thanks to the camaraderie and generosity of the people – of Israel supporters both in the land and abroad.
Although a lot has changed since the humble beginnings of independent Israel, these great values survived and continue to bear fruit.
Jews and Christians alike continue to give towards worthy projects in Israel that care for those in need.
One organization that plays an important role in this inter-sectorial supply-chain is called the Joseph Project.
This nonprofit humanitarian aid corporation is dedicated to the physical and spiritual restoration of Israel through providing a channel for Jewish and Gentile believers worldwide to demonstrate mercy and love to the people of Israel via humanitarian aid.
The Joseph Project imports a wide variety of practical aid into Israel from charities worldwide and distributes these items to needy families, rehab centers, hospitals, schools and more.
Their excellent operating system proved to be successful. Since the year 2000 the Joseph Project has delivered over $100 million worth of humanitarian aid to tens of thousands of needy Jews and Arabs.
In their dedication to grow and expand, this year the organization took on a new challenge: to cultivate generosity also in their own “backyard”.
Aware of the surplus of goods at successful Israeli companies, the Joseph Project developed a vision for a civil sustainability project where local business owners can support the needy in Israel.
This new initiative, called the Blue and White Project, focuses on receiving donations and contributions from businesses within Israel to pass forward. The goods collected from Israeli manufacturers are distributed among the disadvantaged in the land. The Joseph Project ensures that the supply chain runs smoothly, and by collaborating with the Ministry of Welfare they guarantee that the support reaches the appropriate households.
Through their incredible humanitarian work, the Joseph Project is giving believers worldwide a chance to come together and share the wealth. This opportunity is now extended to Israeli businesses, so together we can demonstrate God’s love to His people.
This article originally appeared on FIRM and is reposted with permission.
Estera Wieja, born and raised in Poland, moved to Israel in 2010. She is a journalist and in 2018 joined the staff of Fellowship of Israel Related Ministries (FIRM) in Jerusalem.
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Israeli believers choose unique way of giving from the heart
About twice a year, believers in Haifa get together at Beit Eliyahu Messianic congregation to give blood.
It may sound like a strange reason to gather, but this has become a semi-annual outing for some families that make it a point to attend the blood drive. The event is often paired with either a handmade crafts sale at the seniors’ home nearby or the sale of secondhand clothes to support a ministry that works with women freed from prostitution.
Those who donate blood during these drives are mostly believers from the Haifa area, but not just from Beit Eliyahu.
For over a decade now, every six months or so or during times of conflict, Beit Eliyahu gets a call from Magen David Adom (MDA), Israel’s emergency service. They then begin spreading the news verbally and electronically sending an announcement to other local congregations, creating a Facebook event and posting a notice on their website.
Since 2005, the congregation has organized blood drives for anyone who is interested to give approximately a half liter of blood to a stranger somewhere in dire need. At the most recent drive 40 people donated, with the average number of donations standing at 37 and the record at 52.
The idea first came to Heidi Litle when she was volunteering as an emergency medical technician (EMT) with MDA from 2004 to 2006.
“It was an easy connection,” she told Kehila News. “The Blood Bank is always looking for places to hold drives closer to where people are and in communities that are varied, so that it’s ‘easy’ to give and they can reach people that might not otherwise give blood. They are almost always in need of more units.”
And so, Beit Eliyahu became a logical place to hold regular blood drives due to its location in downtown Haifa, a densely populated neighborhood of one of Israel’s most intercultural cities. Other believers have since also started volunteering with MDA and see this as a great way to be a light in the community.
In preparation for a blood drive, the main hall is cleared of its rows of chairs and in their stead are erected tables for donors to fill out declaration forms; a station with hot beverages, water, juice and cookies to make sure everyone is well-hydrated and well-sugared before and after donating; a nook for one of the crew to review declaration forms and screen donors for adequate blood pressure and hemoglobin; and of course four to six comfy beds on which one lies during the procedure.
Since it takes about 15 minutes for the blood receptacle to fill up, many of those who come to donate use the opportunity to connect with the Blood Bank crew. They are not only giving of themselves physically to someone who might need the blood (victims of terrorism or life-threatening accidents, cancer patients and others), but they also share with the MDA workers about why they give and what Beit Eliyahu is about, opening the door for potentially deeper conversations about our faith.
According to Litle, the Blood Bank crew has come to enjoy these drives so much that they compete about who will get the shift.
“Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” Hebrews 13:16
Violet moved to Israel in 2013. She lives in Haifa with her husband and their daughter.