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Inside Israel

The Shuk in Jerusalem

The Shuk in Jerusalem

Once again, it’s time to hear from our sister in Jerusalem about what she is witnessing there as a believer in Yeshua. Put your prayer shawls on and pray for Israel and Sister J. Now here she is —

Shalom Brothers and Sisters,

I greet you with thanksgiving that we are “one loaf of bread” together before Him, for His purposes and glory, sisters and brothers, family, in this together to encourage one another all the way home.  May HE be glorified and blessed and may you be edified.

Today is Shavuot, called Pentecost in the New Testament and in the English “Old Testament” translated as Feast of Weeks.  It is one of the three holidays when all men of Israel are COMMANDED to come up to the temple, NOT EMPTY HANDED, and to bring an offering and rejoice before God.  The other two “Pilgrim Feasts” are Passover and Sukkot.  Of the three holidays, the least is written about Shavuot, and what IS written could cause one to scratch their head. and say, “Huh?”  It acts like a minor holiday and yet GOD called it one of the three MAJOR ones, so it is wisdom to listen to and hear HIM.

The Psalms of Ascent (Psalms 120-134) were all songs that were sung (and still are) by the children of Israel as they made the pilgrimage up to Jerusalem from north, south, east and west, up the trails toward the temple mount.  Undoubtedly Yeshua (Jesus) and his family sang them as they came up to Jerusalem for Passover as is recorded in Luke 2:41-52.  Of course, there WAS no New Covenant yet, so He was brought up according to the Old Covenant, as were his disciples, who later added their writings.

Because there are so few scriptures, I have written them out in full for you at the end of this letter, beginning with Acts 2, because I have found that God does NOTHING in a shallow manner. It is all in seed form, and we do well to wait for the ripe fruit.

So, what IS Shavuot basically?  Well, it seems to me that it is “the joyful offering to God of the first fruits in the place that HE has set.”  This is an act of obedience.  The temple is not here.  Of course it also wasn’t yet built when He first set this commandment.  The first fruits and grain, two loaves of bread made with the new grain, the best with joy. These words are familiar to us and I find Shavuot a wonderful time to examine my own heart, How much of my joyful offering is rote or flesh. But the first fruits, our first love…Ah ha!  What an opportunity to refresh, revive, examine, and offer again our all and best.

BUT HOW IS IT CELEBRATED HERE?

Now, THAT is a good question, because it sure has taken its twists and turns over the years.

Milk!  It’s the dairy holiday.  We make tons of cheesecake, cheese blintzes, quiche, and more exotic foods.  We eat dairy and dress in white.  Why?  No one knows.

There is a second modern tradition that is evolving into something interesting though.  For years there has been a tradition for religious Jews to stay up all night and the following day to study the Torah. But mostly Mishna and Talmud (the commentaries on the scriptures written by the sages, so the students study and argue concerning the interpretations of the rabbis).

Over the past few years, many secular study groups have been rising up spontaneously throughout the country with young and old reading the scriptures for themselves and discussing them.  This is exciting to me. People seeking answers outside of the mainstream rabbinical framework.  The scriptures promise us that hungry hearts seeking Him will indeed find Him.

Several days ago the following article appeared in our local newspaper Israel h’Yom:

THE BIBLE IS SPREADING ONCE AGAIN by: Dr. Gabi Avital

Over the Shavuot holiday, synagogues and places of Torah study will fill up with worshippers and those eager to learn. Many, even those considered secular, will try to maintain the growing tradition of studying Torah throughout the night.

This spectacular display goes completely against the academic predictions from more than 60 years ago. For example, Prof. Zvi Adar’s “The Educational Values of the Bible” states that “past generations did not speak about the Bible, but they lived in its ways, whereas we, who speak highly of it every day, live outside of it, and so it too is outside of us.”

Later in the book, Adar proposes another approach, a humanistic one — according to which mankind is at the center and God is pushed to the sidelines — to teaching the Bible and adapting it to the nation in Zion. The central reasoning: “The decline of traditional religion in the world as a whole, and in Israel in particular, has also led to the decline of the religious objective for teaching the Bible.”

His reasoning is not completely unfounded. Europe underwent deep secularization, the influence of which is evident in every poll and study, including among Bible researchers and students in the Holy Land. What has happened to the Bible since the early years of the state? What was the result of the painful experience of creating a melting pot of people? Was the Bible also crushed in the mix? As the places of Torah study were only beginning to internalize the depth of the impact the Holocaust had on yeshivas and religious institutions, the academic community took the lead.

The scientists made “critical commentaries” about the Bible. They compared it to the Code of Hammurabi and the Epic of Gilgamesh; dismantled it into verifiable passages; took over its soul with an enlightened scientific spirit; wrote articles, and attended conferences. And yet some say it is precisely because of this that the Biblical Studies departments at the universities emptied out.

However, among the “ignorant,” those who see the Bible as a holy book, the situation is the exact opposite of what the concerned academics are claiming. Bible study is growing and flourishing like spring flowers in a year blessed with rain. Young Israelis are learning Bible verses and passages by heart; the International Bible Contest is taken seriously, and each Shabbat people are reading the weekly Torah portion.

And why is this? From the moment that the future of the Bible was “deposited” into the hands of academia, its fate was sealed: The science that forced its way into Bible research wiped out its soul. Those who remove the soul — that is, God — from the Bible are left with a confusing, violent and irrelevant book. Biblical researchers from academia and the secular seminaries have decided that we must first read the “criticism of the text” and only later a verse on love or social justice. They do not realize that the Bible is not a “biblical text.” It includes some elements of a history book, but that is not the heart of it. The Bible is the foundation of the Jewish people’s soul. The Bible and the Talmud, the Mishnah and the

are amazing creations that any nation would be proud of.

Ahead of Shavuot, the holiday during which we celebrate receiving the Torah, it seems that the Bible is not as scary as people think. Recognition that the Bible is also the foundation of international support for the existence of the sole Jewish state is becoming more and more apparent. The archaeological finds are growing in number and contributing to the verification of events that took place in this land in past generations. More and more people are refusing to believe that the people of Israel are nothing more than a wandering tribe. The spread of the Bible is no longer just a theoretical concept.” (this was in our secular newspaper on the 9th of June)

The scriptures for Shavuot:

Acts 2:1-43

LEVITICUS 23:9-14

NUMBERS 28:26-30

DEUTERONOMY 16:9-12

DEUTERONOMY 16:9-12

May we each be found IN HIM ALONE…With our eyes fixed upon Him…for His glory.

Lovingly,

your sister J

 

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The Search for One New Man (Part 5)

 

In Ephesians 2:19, Paul continues speaking to the Gentile believers:

 “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.” 

The word fellow citizen means to be in union with or together with by resemblance, companionship, or association. When someone becomes a citizen of a nation, they are required to learn the laws, customs, history, and language of that nation. A person becoming a citizen must also pledge loyalty, faithfulness, and commitment to that nation.

We need to remember that it says in Romans 11:17, that the Gentiles were grafted in among the nation of Israel, and the Jewish people. When you graft something, you join or fasten it in such a way as to bring about a close union.

This is what Ruth did as she attached herself to Naomi, a type and shadow of the Gentile becoming a fellow citizen with Israel and the Jewish people. The Gentile believers (Christians) should be involved with the Jewish people, both Messianic and non-Messianic; thereby fulfilling scripture.

Unfortunately, this union that Paul spoke about never really developed into the one new man relationship. In Ephesians 2:20, Paul states that these Gentile believers are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus The Messiah being the chief cornerstone.

It is okay to apply this verse for today, that apostles and prophets are the backbone of the Church, but we also must remember that when Paul was writing, the apostles and prophets he was referring to were all Jewish.

The rich biblical inheritance that believers in Messiah have worldwide has been passed down to them by Jewish spiritual parents. In verse 21 it states:

in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.

So, the question is – what does this one new man church look like? We have no blueprint, but we have the Holy Spirit, and he can help us to develop it. Since the joining of one new man consists of Jew and Gentile in Messiah, then we must not be afraid to incorporate both, and bring them together to complete the plan of God. Only when we accept this joining will we fulfill God’s purpose.

As Paul states in Eph.1:10:

“as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.”

(The above is an excerpt from Nikirk Ministries and the full article can be seen here.

 

(Continued in Part 5……if you’re interested, the full series to date can be seen here.)

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The Rumors of Larry’s Death Were Not Greatly Exaggerated (Part 13)

(Click on photo to enlarge)

(Click on photo to enlarge)

A Catholic friend of mine hungered for the baptism of the Holy Spirit for many months. Her trips to large Charismatic Renewal conferences in Des Moines and Kansas City resulted in nothing happening for her.

So, she came up with a Plan B. When her husband left for work and her children attended school, she would go into the living room, place candles on the floor, light them, and bow down in the middle of the lit candles. There she cried out to God for the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Plan B failed, too.

On a July 4th holiday weekend, she invited another family to their home for a picnic. What says Independence Day more than hot dogs, potato salad, and a picnic, right? While she stirred a large batch of potato salad, she looked out the window at her friends and husband, and at that precise moment, she was baptized in the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues.

Now, think about this for a few seconds. What was God thinking when He baptized her in the Holy Spirit at that awkward moment? Couldn’t He have performed it at a more opportune time?

REMEMBER: God is Boss and He chooses the breakthrough times in our lives. We don’t!

A little over four weeks ago, I turned on the water, stepped into the shower, and the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart: “Full Gospel Businessmen’s Fellowship.”

I was absolutely shocked because I had not thought about that particular men’s fellowship in over twenty-five years. The FGBF had been an important part of my life in my early Christian years, but I had drifted away when I moved to Ames, Iowa.

As soon as I dried myself and slipped on some clothes, I rushed downstairs to check on the computer for the nearest FGBF chapter. None were nearby or within fifty miles. Yet, in my Google searches, I ran across another businessmen’s group: Business Men’s Fellowship. There was a local phone number for BMF and I called it.

My phone call resulted in a meeting at Starbucks with Bill Keith, who had moved to Temecula a few months before and happens to be a great guy and the national president for Business Men’s Fellowship. What a remarkable coincidence, right?

We talked for a few minutes and then I looked at him and said, “I’ve been waiting for twenty-two years for you. Where have you been?”

(Continued in Part 14…if you’re interested, the full series to date can be seen here.)

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The Rumors of Larry’s Death Were Not Greatly Exaggerated (Part 5)

(Click on photo to enlarge)

(Click on photo to enlarge)

I began this series on January 10, 2015, but because nothing was moving forward for me, I placed it on hold. Now things are happening again. So, I’ve decided to rerun the earlier parts before I began anew. If you don’t want to wait, you can read the first ten parts in their entirety here.

 

Basilea Schlink (1904 – 2001) was born in Darmstadt, Germany. After World War II, Schlink felt the need to repent for Germany’s cruel deeds. To do this, she became a Lutheran nun and along with Erika Madauss founded The Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary in 1947. Schlink wrote over fifty-five books, but my favorite is Realities of Faith:

In 1949, a year after the currency reform, the first products of the publishing house and our works of art were ready to be placed on the market. The question arose, should we actually sell our products?…

Within me a concept took shape, clear and sharply defined – a mental picture painted by the Sermon on the Mount, that for those who seek first the kingdom of God “all these things shall be yours as well” (Matthew 6:33). A word began to sound clearly in my heart – “Father.” He will provide, He will prove Himself a Father to His children. But that meant that we, as His children, must provide the opportunity for Him to do so…

How could all this take place? It became more and more clear to me. We must let loose our security and protection; we must surrender ourselves to utter dependence upon our Heavenly Father. This would give Him the opportunity to care for us and show His miracles. It meant the surrender of all security and steady income. We would depend on Him for everything. By faith and prayer we would stand upon His word, “give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over.” (Luke 6:38)

…We set no fee on our services. Our literary works, our arts and crafts carried no price tag. This meant that now we would be totally dependent upon the Father in heaven…

We began from that point to walk in this pathway. It made our Sisterhood truly a fellowship of prayer. Every day we started out with nothing. From a human viewpoint we stood before mountains of worries which had to be prayed away. So we had endless opportunities to present God with the many promises of Scripture – bringing them like an “IOU,” asking Him to redeem them. (Realities of Faith by M. Basilea Schlink, Bethany House, excerpts from pages 33 – 35)

That’s right! Schlink and her sisters did not put prices on her books. Did this cause them any problems?

Schlink tells the story about how the sisterhood had spent all of their money on printing books and pamphlets for a booth at an outdoor fair. A young man walked up with a black suitcase and learned that their publications were free. He dumped every book and pamphlet into his suitcase and walked away. Schlink wrote: “Wouldn’t this way of doing things bankrupt us?”

Yet, God always provided for them.

Okay, how can a businessman, like me, possibly hope to survive in the cutthroat publishing industry?

(Continued in Part 6)

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“Are We There Yet?” (Part 11)

Was Jesus a Christian? 

Jesus’ mother’s name was Miryam (Greek name: Mary) and his earthly father’s name was Yosef (Greek name: Joseph).

The angel said to her, “Don’t be afraid, Miryam, for you have found favor with God. Look! You will become pregnant, you will give birth to a son, and you are to name him Yeshua (Jesus).” (Luke 1:30-31 Complete Jewish Bible by David H. Stern)

Jesus (Yeshua) was born to Jewish parents and was sent by God to be the mediator for the New Covenant.

Okay, who was the New Covenant made with and promised to?

“Here, the days are coming,” says ADONAI (Lord), “when I will make my new covenant with the house of Isra’el and with the house of Y’hudah (Judah). It will not be like the covenant I made with their fathers on the day I took them by their hand and brought them out of the land of Egypt; because they, for their part, violated my covenant, even though I, for my part, was a husband to them,” says ADONAI. “For this is the covenant I will make with the house of Isra’el after those days,” says ADNONAI: “I will put my Torah within them and write it on their hearts; I will be their God, and they will be my people. (Jeremiah 31:31-33 Complete Jewish Bible by David H. Stern)

The New Covenant was made with and promised to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. We Gentile believers were grafted into the olive tree (Israel) and now share in its nourishing root: Jesus (Yeshua).

So, was Jesus a Christian?

Heavens no! He was a Jew and still is one.

Our Lord is a Jew.

(Continued in Part 12…if you’re interested, the full series to date can be seen here.)

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Do We Still Cast Out Demons? (Part 5)

dolly sad

 

John the Baptist languished in prison and his spirit was at its lowest ebb. He sent two of his disciples to Jesus to inquire if Jesus was truly the Christ. Jesus answered by saying:

Go and tell John the things you have seen and heard: that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them. (Luke 7:22)

Jesus did not give a four-point sermon on why He was the Christ, but instead, He pointed to His acts, demonstrating that the kingdom of God had arrived on earth. He was the King of Kings and the Head of the kingdom of God on earth.

The two disciples of John the Baptist were satisfied with Jesus’ answer and departed.

Jesus then spoke about John the Baptist and his ministry. He stated that John was the messenger who prepared the way for Jesus and He added:

“For I say to you, among those born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist…” (Luke 7:28-a)

You have to remember that Abraham, Moses, David, Elijah, Elisha, Daniel, and all of the prophets were revered by the Jews. Thus, when Jesus ranked John the Baptist at the top of the list, His words flabbergasted and astounded every listener.

Yet, the second part of Jesus statement was even more amazing –

“…but he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than John.” (Luke 7:28-b)

When Jesus stated that the lowest member of the kingdom of God – the one who got in by the skin of his teeth – was greater than John, Jesus was not referring to a person’s eternal rank or position. This could not be the case because all of the Old Covenant’s prophets’ positions for all of eternity were already set in place by God’s word. No one can ever usurp their positions in the kingdom of God.

So, what was Jesus referring to when He spoke Luke 7:28-b?

(Continued in Part 6)

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To Listen or Not to Listen to Prophecy…That’s the Question (Part 4)

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Prophecy may arise from three different beings: the Holy Spirit, demons, or our own imaginations (our flesh). And it’s even possible for a prophecy to be a mixture of all three at the same time.

Now, don’t throw your hands up in the air and give up because it sounds too tough. Let’s see what the Apostle Paul says:

Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy. (1 Corinthians 14:1 ESV)

So, my brothers, earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. (1 Corinthians 14:39 ESV)

The Greek word zēloō is translated into the English language as earnestly desire in the English Standard Version, but it more nearly means “to boil over with zeal and envy for something.”

How many of us actually wake up in the morning or walk into churches boiling over with zeal to prophesy? Probably not many of us, but actually the Apostle Paul states that this should be our attitude.

So, how can we do this and still follow Paul’s advice of “doing everything decently and in order?

The answer is simple: allow ourselves and others the opportunities to make mistakes. Period.

We must remove two mindsets to do this:

First, never frame a prophecy by saying, “Thus saith the Lord.” Now, we may feel like every word has come down from the throne of God, but still, it’s up to others to judge it. Be humble, be a servant. Allow the Holy Spirit to raise us up.

Second, get over the importance of appearing as a mature believer to others. Remember: humbling ourselves as little children is  the road to greatness in the kingdom of God.

Spiritual discernment will only come for each of us through practice and giving grace to ourselves and others.

In light of Old Testament scriptures, how can we allow someone to make mistakes with prophecies?

(Continued in Part 5)

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