This article originally appeared on Be’ad Chaim, and reposted with permission.
The “God who sees” provides a time of refreshing for single mothers
Though the circumstances and histories of their lives vary, the women that gathered together on Thursday night in Jerusalem share a unique bond. They are women raising children as single mothers in Israel, which at times can be both challenging and lonely. Thankfully, through the outreach of CBN Israel these women are finding comfort and healing in a community of women they can relate with as well as receiving a helping hand in times of need.
CBN Israel and the Jerusalem Center for Peace and Truth recently partnered together to host a special evening to bless these mothers, and to give them a break from their weekly routine. It was an evening where they didn’t have to think about meal preparations or homework or bed times, instead they got to come and sit down to a delicious meal at a beautiful place setting, all the while having a panorama overlook of the old city of Jerusalem. The evening was a welcomed treat for these women, some of which traveled a long distance to attend.
The evening featured a beautiful worship concert and a message from Pastor Sujatha Roy of India, who had a special word for these mothers about a famous single mother in the Bible- Hagar. Sujatha shared from Geneses 21, when Abraham sent Hagar and Ishmael away into the dessert. She illustrated how God protected Hagar and Ishmael and how God listened to the cries of the boy and answered (v.17). Earlier in Genesis 16:13, Hagar says of the Lord,
“You are the God who sees.”
As a single mother, Hagar experienced God as both the One who saw her needs and heard her cries. Sujatha encouraged the women, reminding them that God hears their prayers and the cries of their children and he will continue to protect them and promises them a future. The women were clearly moved by the story and nearly all went forward for individual prayer after the service where they were given a chance to share some of their unique struggles and receive comfort. It is amazing to see how something as simple as an evening out, a nice meal and a table full of understanding friends can give a woman the encouragement she needs to keep going. CBN Israel is privileged to walk alongside this group of women, providing them with resources they need to meet both their emotional and physical needs.
This article originally appeared on CBN Israel, July 24, 2017, 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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Commentary Parashat Re’eh (See or Look…)
D’varim (Deuteronomy) 11:26–16:19
I ended my blog last week from Parashat Ekev (Because of) by saying that our love for Him will lead us to honor and obey Him. When you truly know Him, truly understand Him with all of your heart, understand His covenant, His endless grace, and His amazing faithfulness then you will desire to live in a way that will honor Him. While our works do not lead us to salvation, our salvation leads us to honor Him with all our hearts, and obey all that He has commanded.
I believe that the above statements are important for all of us to understand, since often times there are many who are confused by the connection between “our works” and “our salvation.” Some think that “works or obedience” can lead you to God, and others think that “salvation” has given you freedom outside of God’s commandments. The fact is, however, that salvation and works are connected, but perhaps in a different way than most believers think.
In this week’s reading, we find a very interesting principal that was originally put forth in Genesis chapter 2, and that is the principal of making wise choices. God tells the Children of Israel:
See (look), I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you listen to the commandments of the Lᴏʀᴅ your God, which I am commanding you today; and the curse, if you do not listen to the commandments of the Lᴏʀᴅ your God, but turn aside from the way which I am commanding you today, by following other gods which you have not known.
In other words, God tells Israel, “Look! I am setting before you today an option to choose blessing in your lives by listening to and following my commandments…don’t just hear, but also DO! If you choose to disobey, you will bring upon yourselves a curse, since your disobedience will lead you to follow other gods.
Another thing I wrote last week is that God isn’t interested in having robots in His kingdom; He created us with the ability to choose, and the blessing of the covenant was the byproduct of choosing to obey God.
From the beginning we can see that God created us (men and women) for relationship, which is based on love. We display our love for Him through our daily choices. I believe that an important question that each of us ought to ask is, “Do the daily choices I make reflect God’s amazing love in my life?” Verse 29 says:
And it shall come about, when the Lᴏʀᴅ your God brings you into the land where you are entering to inherit it, that you shall place the blessing on Mount Gerizim and the curse on Mount Ebal.
One of my favorite places to take my tour groups in Israel is Mt. Gerizim; when you stand on the mountaintop you can see Mt. Ebal, and it is powerful to read aloud these verses, and talk about the importance of our daily choices.
One of the things that you see when standing there is that in between the two high mountains there is a deep valley, and it is very obvious that you can’t stand on both mountains with both feet – you must choose one or the other! I am giving you this amazing picture in order to encourage you that you can’t stand with both feet on each mountain… you either choose God (the blessing that comes from obedience) or the other side (the world and other gods), which brings about curses.
In closing, the first place in the Bible that we see the principle of blessings and curses is found in Genesis 12. One of the main things that it speaks about is the seed of the blessings, and the first step that each of us ought to take is to make a choice – only that this choice will not be a temporary one, but rather will affect our eternity – we need to choose if we want to receive that seed of blessing, i.e. Yeshua our promised Messiah, or deny Him, which will lead to an everlasting separation from God. The choice is ours to make!
This article originally appeared on Hope for Israel, August 16, 2017, and 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.
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Parashat Re’eh – Deut 11:26 – 16:17
And you shall make the festival of Shavuot to the Lord your G-d, giving the offering of the abundance of your hand, as the L-rd your G-d shall bless you. – D’varim/Deuteronomy 16:10
Here, in the middle of general instructions for celebrating the three pilgrimage feasts – Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot – comes a very specific and yet quite casually vague requirement for the summer festival of Shavuot. Shavuot comes fifty days after Pesach and usually falls in the last two weeks of May or the first two weeks of June. Gunther Plaut tells us that Hag Shavuot, the Feast of Weeks, is also referred to as Hag HaKatzir, the Feast of the Harvest, in Shemot 23:16 and – perhaps a little surprisingly or confusingly – as Hag HaBikkurim, the Feast of Firstfruits, in B’Midbar 28:26
There is a textual difficulty in the text: the word, misat, hapax legomenon in the Hebrew Scriptures. Davidson suggests that it is a construct form of the noun, misah, from the geminate root, kasas, “to number, to reckon”, with the meaning of a tax, tribute or offering. Another possibility would derive from the root, nun.samech.hey, “to try, prove or tempt”, with the meaning of a trial or temptation. Targum Onkelos simply transcribes the Hebrew word, but also uses it in the verse “you shall open your hand to him and lend him sufficient for his need” (D’varim 15:8, ESV) so equating it to the Hebrew word, dai, “enough or sufficient”; “Give as much as you can afford” is the Onkelos translation offered by Drazin and Wagner. The Septuagint proposes (…) from a root meaning to be strong or able, so implying ability or abundance. Ibn Ezra, on the other hand, proposes that, misat, comes from the root, nasas, “to raise oneself up” and its more well-known noun, nes, a banner. He says that we should “raise a banner to the glory of G-d by bringing offerings – raising one’s hand with this gift.”
From there the commentators link the size of the offering and the attitude with which the offering is brought. Based on Sifrei, Rashi comments that “this means: to the extent of the offering of your hand, entirely commensurate with the blessing with which G-d will have blessed you.” Rashbam suggests, “Offer ‘enough’ of a freewill contribution, that is, as much as the spirit moves you to give.” Rabbi Hirsch makes proportionality explicit: “The purely free-willed nature of such a gift is stressed by the following ‘as the L-rd will bless you’, which leaves the size of the gift corresponding to the benefits received entirely to the discretion of the giver.” Two modern commentators echo the sages; Jeffrey Tigay reports that people are being encouraged to “offer what you can afford as a result of the harvest … because the feeling of prosperity and hence generosity, would be foremost in the farmer’s mind after the harvest.” Michael Carasik, in his modern compendium, adds: “Your generosity should match the L-rd’s generosity in blessing you. Bring peace offerings joyfully and invite guests to eat with you.”
While this is a command – to bring an offering, every Shavuot – it is to be seen in rather a different light from the usual burnt offerings and sacrifices brought to the Temple. These are free-will offerings, thank offerings and peace offerings, of which the offerer keeps the majority after the priest has presented the L-rd’s portion before the altar. They could be animals, grain, drink or money; the priest kept his share and the largest part is returned so that it can be eaten gladly by the offerer, his family and guests to celebrate the feast together. It is a freewill offering based on gratitude and joy from the harvest, not a sacrificial offering that must be extracted as a point of obedience. It is brought to rejoice over the blessing that the L-rd has already given to each farmer, shared joyfully and consumed together to create and build community. It seems to me that there is a lesson that we need to learn today from this encouragement to community life in Messiah.
Rav Sha’ul picks up on the way that gifts are to be used within the Body of Messiah: “Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness” (Romans 12:6-8, ESV). N. T. Wright explains that the gifts – including giving – should be exercised “with as much energy and skill as they can.”  Richard Longenecker notes that “we are individually judged by G-d in accordance with our response to and our expression of these G-d-given gifts,” adding that the “faithful expression of G-d’s gifts must underlie all our living, both individually and corporately.”  These are not just identity markers of believers in Yeshua, typical norms or behaviour patterns of those who are inspired and moved by the Spirit and their love of Yeshua, they are expressions of rational worship in a diversity that creates unity in the community, each serving each other – and, so the group – to the full extent that we are able.  Each gives enough, not to excess, nor to impoverish the giver, but sufficient and multiplied by the Spirit because of the accompanying attitude of joy and enthusiasm to contribute and see the community’s life and witness grow.
One day when Yeshua had been teaching in the Temple, He sat down with the disciples near to the big offering boxes that stood by the treasury. Many people would turn their heads as the sharp staccato rattle of coins announced large donations given by rich people. Quite unnoticed, however, was a poor widow who simply dropped in two small copper coins which together amounted to about one sixty-fourth of a day’s wage for a labourer. But Yeshua noticed her and He called the disciples attention together, saying, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box” (Mark 12:43, ESV). You can imagine the looks of disbelief or puzzlement; the disciples simply didn’t get this at all, so Yeshua had to explain, “they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on” (v.44, ESV). The widow’s attitude of giving, giving everything, multiplied her gift many fold according to G-d’s valuation. She contributed generously, to excess, everything that she had, trusting that G-d would provide for her needs. Not only did she give, but she exercised faith with her giving, allowing G-d to do a miracle. Just like the woman who anointed Yeshua’s feet with rich perfume, her story is still being told two thousand years later wherever the gospel is shared; her generosity is still a model for the kingdom of G-d. As Ben Witherington comments, “The story reminds Mark’s audience that even the poorest among them can make a worthy offering to G-d.”  The widow raised a banner for G-d’s glory as she made her offering.
So what does that means for us? Is this just another exhortation about giving, about bringing “the full tithe into the storehouse” (Malachi 3:10, JPS)? No, not at all. It is about being aware of the way and the extent to which G-d has blessed us and being intentional in acknowledging that by passing that blessing on to others in appropriate ways. This is our “spiritual worship” (Romans 12:1). It is not a tax that G-d expects us to pay on our income, it is not even a fixed amount or proportion. It is a generosity born of the Spirit, giving enough – be that time, materials, finance, labour, intellect, skills or vocation – so that our local community and the wider Body of Messiah is blessed and grows together. No-one is to make themselves destitute or go into debt – giving repeatedly on a credit card that is never fully paid off is simply ungodly foolishness – and no-one is to be embarrassed, either by giving or receiving. The economy of the kingdom flourishes in small and quiet ways as needs are seen and met from hands that are themselves full from G-d’s larder: “with the measure you use it will be measured to you” (Matthew 7:2, ESV). Yeshua has given us so much – how can we give Him less?
1. – N. T. Wright, New Interpreter’s Bible Commentary, Vol. IX, (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2015), page 612.
2. – Richard Longenecker, The Epistle to the Romans, NIGTC, (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2016), page 930.
3. – Philip Esler, Conflict and Identity in Romans, (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2003), page 315.
4. – Ben Witherington III, The Gospel of Mark: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary, (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2001), page 336.
Further Study: Mark 4:21-25; 2 Corinthians 9:7; Ephesians 4:1-7
Application: When was the last time you gave something in the same measure as G-d gives to you? How can we all increase our vision for sharing the blessings of the kingdom so that everyone has enough and to spare and a banner is raised up for G-d’s glory?
Jonathan and his wife, Belinda, lead Messianic Education Trust, which is an educational ministry based in England. It is a part of the Tikkun family of ministries, serving the Messianic Jewish community in Israel, Cyprus and the USA , as well as former republics of the Soviet block.
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Phobeo: Fear of the Lord
There are two words in Hebrew used for “fear”: Pakhad – פחד – is fear in general. Yir’ah – יראה – is more a reverential fear associated with authority, power, and holiness.
In Greek there is primarily one word, Phobeo, from which are derived words having to do with “phobia.” This word is found some one hundred times in the New Covenant, and seven times in Luke 12; the chapter in which Yeshua defines the fear of the Lord.
Although there is only one word in the Greek of Luke 12, there are three different meanings, according to the context. Two are bad; one is good.
1. Verse 4 (twice): Cowardice, fearfulness, fear of man, fear of evil – bad
2. Verse 5 (three times): Holy reverential fear of God – good
Luke 12:4 – Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but afterwards can do no more.
As believers in Yeshua and the God of Israel, we should be fearless and courageous. Cowardice is not part of our character, because it is not part of the character of God. We do not fear evil; nor evil people; nor the devil; nor any wickedness. We have no “fear of man.”
On the other hand, we do fear God.
Luke 12:5 – I will warn you whom to fear; fear Him who has the authority to kill and afterwards cast into hell. Yes, I say to you, fear Him.
God is holy and all-powerful. He punishes evil. The fear of the Lord is eternal. The pure reverence of His holiness, power and hatred of evil is beautiful. When there are great miracles, there must be an accompanying fear of God. He who is powerful to heal sickness is also powerful to punish sin. Sin and sickness are both evil. God’s holy power destroys evil.
If we are to rejoice at His power to heal the sick, so should we have an awesome fear of His power to punish sin. His power to destroy evil is awesome. “Awe” is a good way to define the fear of the Lord. He is awesome; we have awe.
Luke 12:7, 32 – Do not fear; you are more precious than many sparrows…Do not fear, little flock, for it is the will of your Father to give you the kingdom.
We are not afraid of God as if He were evil. God is good. He loves us. We are precious in His sight. He wants to give us everything good. We do not suffer from insecurity, nor lack of confidence, nor fear of rejection, nor self-condemnation.
God loves us all so much that any form of doubt or worry is driven out of us. We are totally accepted in His love. Let’s find this beautiful balance: we have neither cowardice nor insecurity; but we do have the holy, awesome beautiful fear of the Lord.
This article originally appeared on Revive Israel, August 10, 2017, and reposted with permission.
Asher Intrater is the founder and apostolic leader of Revive Israel Ministries, and oversees Ahavat Yeshua Congregation in Jerusalem, and Tiferet Yeshua Congregation in Tel Aviv. Asher was one of the founders of Tikkun International with Dan Juster and Eitan Shishkoff, and serves on the board of the Messianic Alliance of Israel and Aglow International.
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Witnessing the mighty works of God while saving lives
As I write this letter, my eyes tear, my knees wobble and my heart beats faster. It is amazing to witness the mighty works of God as we save lives.
At Be’ad Chaim’s annual Board meeting recently, I reported the number of babies saved trough Operation Moses project since its humble beginning in 2006. As of today, we have saved over 2,000 lives. That’s 2,000+ beds, bathtubs and strollers, and over 72,000 bags of diapers and boxes of baby formula. Not to mention the hundreds od thousands of baby onesies and booties distributed by our clothing boutiques.
The finances to provide 2,000+ babies with basic needs for a full year has gone up and down like the ocean tide. It has been astounding to watch God provide faithfully. Sureley, He cares for the unborn and blesses our work.
The most deeply touching part of reviewing our lists are the thousands of names: Names of moms whose lives have been deeply touched and changed; and names of babies who are alive today because of the ministry of Be’ad Chaim.
The first Operation Moses babies were born in Autumn 2006. I can easily recall each of the 15 moms and babies whom we serviced that first year. We became integral parts of each other’s lives. I attended several births and visited each home, often spending hours with the families.
- Our first OM baby, Michaella’s life was saved by an SMS who told her mom she was a gift from God. Her mom was a single, new immigrant, from South America, who later found a great job.
- Orian’s mom was young and wild from a dysfunctional family, but who dearly loves her daughter.
- Ben Zion’s mom was a lonley new immigrant from the US. She now has a good ob and recently invited s to her wedding.
- Or’s mom came to Israel through trafficking. She married his dad and now has five sons.
- Eitan’s mom was an orphan who became pregnant when traveling in Thailand. Despite her fears, she learned to support herself and her son.
- Anat’s mom was alone, a new immigrant from Siberia, but has now discovered her Lord and is one of our precious Be’ad Chaim counselors.
This is a small sampling of some of our first babies. We are now servicing 500 moms and babies nationwide. I can’t say that i know each one personally anymore. We have a fantastic group of counselors who befriend each mom and show her love, kindness and respect. Miraculously, through our Operation Moses project, we provide the practical needs for each one of them. I believe the traditional Jewish prayer on special occations is appropriate:
“ברוך אתה ה אלהינו מלח העולם, שהחינו וקימנו והגיענו לזמן הזה”
“Blessed are you, Oh Lord, Kind of the universe, who has given us life, sustained us and enabled us to arrive at this occasion.”
May the Lord richly bless you for partnering with us in this life-saving work. Through our lives together, God has done far beyond all that we could have thought or imagined. To him be the Glory for all that He has done.
Sandy is the National Director of Be’ad Chaim (Pro Life), a registered Israeli non-profit organization dedicated to the protection of mothers and unborn children.