Worship in the kingdom
Recently during a time of worship, I glanced around the room and noticed that the looks on peoples faces seemed so serious. This didn’t make sense to me. We were singing about the nations loving and worshipping Yeshua forever in His kingdom. Imagining this put a big smile on my face, and I wanted everyone else to feel the joy I was feeling. (The highest levels of joy I experience in a given week usually happen during times of corporate worship).
Next, a picture, which I believe the Holy Spirit gave me, began to form in my mind of the benefits we receive as kingdom citizens. I saw us believing in Yeshua for our salvation, repenting of our sins, receiving forgiveness and new citizenship (Phil 3:20). Then crossing the border into His country (kingdom). We crossover into a new amazing reality. Rags to eternal riches!
Sin, sickness, selfishness, hopelessness… are no longer our inheritance. We enter into a new “normal” which includes life and life to the full (John 10:10). Healing, love, joy, righteousness, peace… are the new norm in the Holy Spirit (Rom 14:17).
Picturing myself standing inside Yeshua’s kingdom, I looked around at those worshipping Him together with me and saw only joy filled faces. Exuberant expressions of worship were normal. Sour faces didn’t exist. Shouts of joy and praise were accompanied by unhindered dances of celebration to the King.
I sensed the Lord say that we don’t have to wait for the full kingdom reality in order to worship like that. But He greatly delights in our wholehearted worship now, in the midst of the trials of this life. This childlikeness in worship moves His heart (Matt 18:3-4). The problem is we so easily forget the new kingdom reality we have crossed over into. The opinions of man, and the struggles with our fleshly desires and demonic opposition, can easily hijack our times of faith-filled corporate and personal worship.
Make the Choice
Engaging our free will in vibrant worship now, in this life, is a unique and temporary dynamic. One day we will have resurrected bodies and we will not feel the resistance we do now. The war in our body and soul will come to an end. Worshipping the King will be so easy and natural.
So, my encouragement is: let’s picture ourselves inside His kingdom now and live accordingly! Let’s connect with the exuberant worship happening 24/7 around His throne in heaven and bring it down to the earth. Forget about what others will think or say. Your worship is not a show for them but is for an audience of One.
Even when feeling weak, tempted or like we got up on the wrong side of the bed, we can still choose to make the most of our personal and corporate worship times, bringing our sacrifice of love and praise to Him. He will cherish and remember these decisions forever.
*A little tip for the days you ‘feel’ down and want to just “coast through” worship: choose to smile as you sing. Don’t stop smiling until your emotions begin to follow. By thanking God for the benefits you have as a kingdom citizen, and choosing to press on passed those negative emotions, you set yourself up for a transformational time of intimate connection with the King!
This article originally appeared on Revive Israel, May 29, 2019, and reposted with permission.
Cody served on staff with YWAM for four years before moving to Israel. He joined Revive Israel's staff in 2013. He and his wife, Liat, help lead the youth group at Ahavat Yeshua Congregation and work together in Revive Israel’s international department. They have a passion to see the word of the Lord go out from Jerusalem through media and by going out to the nations themselves.
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An authentic Ruth
I was a new believer in Messiah, and was so incredibly excited about the trip to Israel. It was my first trip, and we packed bags of humanitarian aid in old suitcases that we were going to donate. The bags bulged with baby clothes, socks, toothpaste, aspirin, and feminine products. We just couldn’t bring enough, and we were giddy with excitement! We traveled on El Al, and during those years they would play Haktikvah as the jets encircled the plane, and we prepared to land. I turned to my husband and wept as we landed.
My trip to Israel consisted of a trail of tears everywhere I went. Every historical site that we visited, I wept at. During that visit, I fell in love with the land, the people and with the God who blessed me to be able to see Israel with my own eyes. The trip came to a close quickly, and before I knew it, I was on a bus back to the airport. I cried on the way to the airport, and tried to convince my husband to move to Israel. My husband had a very nice trip to Israel, but wasn’t having the same intense feelings that I was going through. On the plane going home, I vowed that I would come back to Israel, and the Lord was gracious to have me visit again two years later.
On my second trip to Israel, things were different. During my first trip, the air was clear, the streets shimmered with gold and the Israelis I met were sweet and God’s cherished people. This trip, the streets were filthy, cigarette butts were everywhere, the air was thick with smells that weren’t pleasant. The people were rude, pushy, sweaty (where was their deodorant?), and unlike the first trip, I couldn’t wait to go home.
When I returned from my second trip, my pastor’s wife asked me to speak to a women’s bible study about my recent trip to Israel. I tried desperately to decline, because it had been such a terrible trip. I didn’t understand why I had felt so differently this past trip. My pastor’s wife was not releasing me from speaking at the bible study so I went to the Lord, asking Him for something positive to say about my trip. As I prayed the Lord led me to Romans 9:1-3, “I am telling the truth in Messiah, I am not lying, my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Messiah for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh”. At this time in our lives, my husband had just started being interested in ministry, and as I read these verses, I knew that they were for me. I knew that the Lord wanted me to share this burden that Paul was speaking about. The burden for the salvation of His people. Even though I had not been brought up in a Jewish household, they were to be “my brethren” now. It wasn’t just going to be my husbands ministry, it was to be mine also. The Lord wanted me to commit to minister to His people, even though they weren’t perfect, even if they were difficult, and even if my life was in jeopardy. As I prepared to tell these women what the Lord had shown me I knew that they probably wouldn’t understand, but I knew that just as Ruth followed Naomi, I was following my husband in the call to minister to God’s people.
In those two trips to Israel that the Lord had orchestrated for me, they had prepared me for being involved in the Messianic movement. The first trip wooed me to love the people, and the land of Israel. The second trip helped me to see the people with all their flaws and imperfections. If I had come into the Messianic movement with the mindset of my first trip I would have idealized the people. Jewish people are not perfect. They are chosen, loved by God but they are not perfect people!
Many times people that come into the Messianic Movement have an idealized notion of what Jewish people will be like and what coming into a Messianic congregation will be like. We must have a clear concept as we come into the Messianic movement, so we can really have a “heart of Ruth”. Before we read the famous statement that Ruth made to Naomi, remember that she had lived with this family for ten years! Living with people for ten years allows you to really get to know them with their strengths and their weaknesses. They had prospered together, suffered the loss of the father, and then the loss of both sons. They were in financial ruin and saw no future for themselves. Actually, Ruth probably may have had a better future staying in Moab then clinging to Naomi, her mother in law. Let’s take a look at this life changing statement in Ruth 1:16-17, “But Ruth said, ‘Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may the Lord do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me.”’ These verses hold the key for having the “heart of Ruth”, so let’s look at them:
- “From following you” – Notice that Ruth is not leading, she is following. We must surrender as Ruth did when we join ourselves to the Jewish people.
- “Where you go”- Ruth does not have an agenda. She is willing to go wherever Naomi wishes to go. She doesn’t want to control or manipulate Naomi’s plans.
- “Where you lodge”- Wherever you make your home it will become my home. As a Moabitess there was a great prejudice against her, yet she was willing to come with Naomi to Bethlehem.
- “Your people” – Ruth is leaving her family, her country, her traditions to become one with the Jewish people.
- “Your God”- The Moabites worshipped Chemosh who required human sacrifice. The god Chemosh was called “the detestable idol of Moab” (1 Kings 11:7). When Ruth chose the God of Israel, it was a pivotal point in her life, because she was leaving the god of her youth and she was choosing the “living God and the everlasting King”.
- “Where you die” – Ruth was making a vow to Naomi that her intention was serious. She was committed to this vow and nothing but death would separate her from Naomi.
After my second trip to Israel the Lord helped me see what an authentic heart of Ruth needed to be. It is not an easy path, but it is a path that delights our Kinsmen Redeemer! May the Lord strengthen you as you walk this path.
Diana Levine is the Rebbetzin of Kol Mashiach Messianic Synagogue in Melbourne, Florida. She has spoken at national conferences, regional conferences, women's retreats and bible studies. She is also the co-founder of the Daughters of Righteousness Conference.
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Fighting the adversary in the name of Yeshua
One of the advantages of growing up in a Jewish home was understanding some of the cultural expressions of the Jewish people and concepts that have been passed down generationally since time began. One of the concepts is directly related to a very dangerous practice that is popular within the Christian world. Every believer should take a moment to check themselves in case they have become caught up in something that is absolutely contrary to the teachings of the Bible.
We all know that the adversary (satan) desires to deceive and destroy the people of G-D. We also know that his attacks often come in subtle ways. He twists Scripture in an attempt to get us to allow false doctrines and unrighteous actions to become a part of our belief system. He has used this same plan of attack ever since the Garden of Eden when he deceived Adam and Eve by twisting G-D’s Word saying, “You most assuredly won’t die!” He tried the same thing with Yeshua (Jesus) in Luke 4:3-4:
3 The devil said to Him, “If You are Ben-Elohim, tell this stone to become bread.” 4 Yeshuaanswered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’”
The only real weapon that the devil has is deception and he continues to attack using that same weapon even today. He is just as wily as he has ever been. As believers, we need to be as vigilant as always. By now, you are asking what practice I am talking about. Well, the practice is the use of incantations within our services, especially during prayer times. Incantations or magic words are a part of witchcraft and are sinful. Yet, in many cases, believers are unknowingly using this form of witchcraft without even considering what they might be doing. It has been so subtly brought into our faith expression and the devil is an expert at dressing sin up to look as if it is Biblical by twisting Scripture.
Let me explain. In the Bible, many times we are told to pray in the name of Yeshua (Jesus). Because of misapplication of this expression, believers errantly close their prayers by saying, “In the name of Yeshua,” or, “In Yeshua’s name.” Now, before I go on, there is nothing unbiblical in using these words with the proper understanding. So, let me be clear. Just saying those words at the end of a prayer is not wrong or sinful, as long as we are doing it for the correct reason. In the Bible, when one says “In the name of,” it means according to the character, nature, or authority of. In other words, when someone did something or said something “in the name of,” they knew that person had the rightful authority to do the act or action and that act or action was within that person’s character or nature.
For instance, when we pray for healing in Yeshua’s name, we do so because we know He has the authority to heal and that it is fully within His character and nature to heal. We know that because the Bible tells us what His promises are and that He has the authority to heal. So, when we pray in His name, we are trusting that because we know who and what He is, then He will do all that He promised to do. This is what we are taught in John 20:31:
31 But these things have been written so that you may believe that Yeshua is Mashiach Ben-Elohim, and that by believing you may have life in His name.
Notice what brings life “in His name” is, believing that Yeshua us the Messiah The Son of G-D. It isn’t the sounds and syllables that format the verbalization of His name.
Unfortunately, too many believers do not understand the Biblical concept of “In the name of” and they close their prayers by saying “In the name of Yeshua (Jesus),” as if they were saying “Abracadabra,” or “Presto Chango,” or any other magic word or incantation.
Once again, I am notsaying that we should not end every prayer by saying “In the name of Yeshua.” What I am saying is that those praying need to search their hearts, their understanding, and their intent. They need to make sure they have not allowed the adversary to cause them to unknowingly practice witchcraft while believing that they are obeying Scripture. Remember, he is the father of lies and deception, so we must guard ourselves by knowing what the Bible actually teaches.
Eric Tokajer is author of With Me in Paradise, Transient Singularity, #ManWisdom, OY! How Did I Get Here?: Thirty-One Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me Before Entering Ministry, Jesus is to Christianity as Pasta is to Italians, God Has No Plan "B", and his most recent book Galatians in Context.
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PARASHAT NASSO (LIFT UP)
BAMIDBAR (NUMBERS) 4:21 – 7:89
In our weekly Scripture reading, we find one of the most well known blessings in all of Scripture, which is the “Priestly Blessing”. I devoted an entire blog to this topic, which I recommend you to read here. This week, I would like to focus on a different issue in this parasha, which I find has particular interest to us followers of Messiah.
But first, a little background on the Levites would prove helpful. Our portion this week is a direct continuation of last week’s parasha (Parashat Bamidbar), which speaks of the roles of the Levites regarding their service of God’s dwelling place, the Tabernacle, and the manner in which they are to treat the items in it, including the Ark of the Covenant. It also explained the way in which they were to build, dismantle, and the carry the Tent of the Meeting when the camp would move to a new location. In short, the Levites were required to do a lot of work!
As I re-read our portion for this week, I noticed something very interesting. The age of the men that were called to serve as Levites was between 30 to 50 years old. The few commentaries that I consulted on this issue speculate that this is the age when the men were best fit and therefore better able to serve as priests. This doesn’t seem to be a satisfactory answer. Being on the closer side of 50 years old myself, I can say that I in no way feel more equipped to do physical labor than I did when I was closer to 30! In fact, I believe that men aged between 20-40 would be better able to do the intense physical work that the Levites were required to do. There must be another explanation.
While there is no clear explanation in the Scriptures, I see a strong connection to Messiah Yeshua in this. The fact that the age requirement is mentioned 7 times in the text means that it is clearly important! The key here is that a Levi could only begin serving in the Tabernacle at the age of 30. In the Book of Luke, we find an interesting fact about the age that Yeshua Himself began His ministry on earth:
And when He began His ministry, Yeshua Himself was about thirty years of age, being supposedly the son of Joseph, the son of Eli…
I don’t know about you, but I don’t believe anything in the Word of God is a product of coincidence. The fact that the Levites began their service for the LORD at the age of thirty has a direct connection to the age that Yeshua – our High Priest- began His ministry on earth, preparing the way for God’s Spirit to dwell with His Bride. Again, I am amazed at the continuity in God’s Word, and in His plan of salvation, which was there from the beginning of time.
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.
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in the street of the great city that is spiritually called Sodom and Egypt, where their Lord was crucified. – Revelation 11:8
On June 6, 52 years ago Jerusalem was delivered back to the Jewish people after a 2000-year dispersion for our sins, according to the Prophets of Israel. In an overwhelming attack on Israel from her hostile neighbors, brave men fought and died to secure that victory in a 6-day war, so reminiscent of that 6-day creation that it might be the very imprint of the King’s signet ring, whose name dwells in this holy city. Also on this date more brave men fought and died on the beaches of Normandy to put an end to the Nazi monstrosity that consumed the lives of millions of Jewish people in the death camps.
Now on this very same day in the streets of Jerusalem where we have been allowed to return and restore after our long diaspora, thousands of Jewish people boldly and aggressively parade their shame through the streets of the Holy City, flaunting and provoking in the face of G-d what is termed abomination in the Torah as well as the New Testament: the Gay Pride parade.
This same aggressive stance was displayed by the people of the city of Sodom: “Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom– both young and old– surrounded the house. They called out to Lot, saying, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Send them out to us so we can have relations with them!” (Genesis 19:4-5). But Sodom fulfilled that which is written, “Pride comes before destruction, and an arrogant spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18).
Displayed along the streets of Jerusalem are the rainbow flags, the rainbow once being the sign of G-d’s merciful covenant of peace with the earth, now dragged down to be the symbol of abomination. Isaiah warned, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness” as Israel boasts of its first openly ‘gay’ minister in the government. And next week the Gay Pride Parade will continue flaunting itself in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv.
With hundreds of thousands of missiles at this moment aimed at every place in Israel from our perennially hostile neighbors, along with the Persian threat to wipe the ‘Zionist entity’ from the face of the Earth, we who stand in the gap of intercession with our lives and families cry unto God with the same spirit that was in Moses, Paul and Yeshua, who died for this nation (John 11:51-52), “But Moses sought the favor of YHVH his God. “YHVH,” he said, “why should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that he brought them out, to kill them in the mountains and to wipe them off the face of the earth’? Turn from your fierce anger; relent and do not bring disaster on your people. Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to whom you swore by your own self: ‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and I will give your descendants all this land I promised them, and it will be their inheritance forever.’ Then the Lordrelented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened,” and, “Yet now, if You would only forgive their sin… But if not, please blot me out of the book that You have written,” and “For I could wish that I myself were anathema from Messiah for my brethren’s sake, my kinsmen according to the flesh” (Exodus 32; Deut. 9:25-29; Numbers 11:15; Romans 9:3; Psalm 106:23).
May the Lord do it for His Name’s sake, as written in Ezekiel: “I will call for the grain and make it plentiful and will not bring famine upon you. I will increase the fruit of the trees and the crops of the field, so that you will no longer suffer disgrace among the nations because of famine. Then you will remember your evil ways and wicked deeds, and you will loathe yourselves for your sins and detestable practices. I want you to know that I am not doing this for your sake, declares the Sovereign YHVH. Be ashamed and disgraced for your conduct, people of Israel” (Ezekiel 36).
Hosha na– Save please Israel for your Name’s sake, which is written in this land and this people today before the eyes of all nations, o YHVH!
Elhanan ben-Avraham, born in 1945, is a professional artist, poet, writer and father of two, grandfather of four, living in Israel since 1979. He has served in the IDF, taught the Bible internationally, published two illustrated books of poetry, and painted two large Biblical murals in public buildings in Jerusalem, among many other works. He and his wife live in a quiet village in the Mountains of Judah.