Hit By The Storm

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Screen Shot 2014-11-26 at 11.37.58 AMStorms of every kind are raging at the moment - and not only in Israel. Sometimes, when the storm becomes overwhelming, we might ask as the first disciples did, “Yeshua, we’re in serious trouble here! Don’t you care?”

There have been severe weather warnings in the last few days as a strong storm rips through Israel, matching the fury rising as the Jewish population are in shock and outrage at the recent slaughters and the Arab population are fuming about the racist reprisals. It is becoming more and more unbearable for everyone.

So we turn to the Bible to see what God has to say - does He care? Why does it seem like He’s sleeping through our troubles sometimes?

Back To The Future

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time_travelWe are hurtling into a largely unknown future and we are living in very troubled times. This statement is true today in Israel and it could easily have been said with equal accuracy in previous millenia. The Bible shows that God well understands the insecurity of living in tumultuous times with threats growing on every side, and has some great counsel for us to follow. Judaism itself has incorporated some of God’s principles about dealing with future-phobia into its very fabric. As we read the news and see tensions picking up pace, let’s consider what the God of Israel has to say about facing the future.

Pray For The Peace Of Jerusalem!

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Screen Shot 2014-11-09 at 1.30.43 PMTensions are high, riots are breaking out, and all hopes of peace seem to be slipping away from the minds of Jerusalem’s Jewish and Arab residents.

It must grieve God’s heart to see the city that is so dear to Him in such violent turmoil yet again. Psalm 122 urges us to “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem”
, or more literally, to ask… ask for shalom, ask about shalom for Jerusalem. Let’s delve into a bit of the meaning behind that... and do it!

 

Well... This Changes Everything!

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Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 10.31.34 AMSometimes just a small detail coming to light can totally change our understanding of a situation. Over the millennia, Bible scholars have scratched their heads over things that seem obvious to us now with hindsight. Today, it is not hard for us to fathom how everyone in the world could witness the same event simultaneously, for example. The “explosion in knowledge” and great “increase in people traveling to and fro” that Daniel the prophet wrote of (Daniel 12:4) now makes perfect sense with the development of the internet and air travel.

And for centuries it was extremely difficult for Christians to grasp that the word “Israel” in the Bible could possibly mean ethnic or national “Israel”, since it had apparently ceased to exist as a nation. The Jewish people were scattered across the globe, and it certainly appeared to many that God’s purposes for them had come to an end. So scholars interpreted the Bible in light of their understanding, not imagining that Israel would exist again once more.

 

What Just One Prayer Can Do

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Screen Shot 2014-10-26 at 11.11.23 AMThere was a humble German carpenter who loved the Lord and lived in Romania around the time of the second world war. He loved to pray, and he loved to share his faith, but the cry of his heart and his one prayer was to lead just one Jewish person to faith in the Messiah.

He was old, sick and poor, and there were no Jewish people in his area, but he prayed earnestly that God might bring just one Jewish person with whom he could share the good news of Yeshua.

Just one... and you'll never guess what God did...

Here Comes The Rain!

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Screen Shot 2014-10-19 at 10.20.36 AMThe rainy season has begun here in Israel! The prayers for rain began in earnest at the feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) and the former rains have begun to fall already. Visitors to Israel will often notice the signs about the water shortage, and stressing the importance of water conservation. Like most things in Israel, rain and drought are also deeply spiritual subjects, and God has a lot to say about it all. And have you ever wondered why God chose that little piece of real estate rather than say... the South of France? A stunning part of China? Or lush Ireland? Why dusty little Israel?

Guests For Sukkot

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Screen_Shot_2013-09-23_at_6.13.08_PMLast Wednesday was the special celebration for the beginning of Sukkot, and this Wednesday is the joyful feast to mark the end of the week long holiday. It is known as Shmini Atzeret and Simchat Torah, which means the eighth day of the assembly and joy of the Torah.  Once again, God has instructed that the Israelites should down tools, and enjoy. In the last blog, we looked at the gathering of the harvest and the importance of rejoicing during Sukkot, and this week will be about some of the other important aspects of the feast; the waving of the four species, and the welcoming of Ushpizin...

A Feast Of Rejoicing!

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cute_sukkahThe Feast of Sukkot is one of my favourites. All of God’s ingeniously designed feasts are full of creativity and wonder; treasures and promises. But in Jewish literature, Sukkot is often simply called “THE feast”. The biggie - no other clarification needed. Three times a year, all of Israel were supposed to make the trek to Jerusalem for Passover and Shavuot in the Spring, and then Sukkot in the fall. Sukkot means “shelters” or "tabernacles". This is a feast in which God instructs his people to set about making a temporary shelter or booth to camp out in for a week. As a kid I loved making dens, and Sukkot is a bit like that. But why in the world did God want us to make dens?

Sharing the Gospel with Jewish Friends

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Screen Shot 2014-10-05 at 12.12.25 PMThis is some great training from our friends at EvanTell which will help you to share the good news with Jewish friends from a historical, cultural, and scriptural perspective. Following these guidelines will help you to effectively proclaim the gospel to a Jewish person with sensitivity and tact.

   

 

 

 

 

Praying For Israel On Yom Kippur

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Screen Shot 2014-10-01 at 2.05.58 PMAbout a month ago, eleven new Israeli believers from a congregation in the north were baptised, and five of them were Israeli-born “sabres”. This might sound a small number but we are praising God wildly over here. This is the pitter patter of the early rains of revival. As we approach Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement this weekend, Jewish believers in Israel will be joining in the country-wide fast, but with a different twist. Unlike the rest of Israel’s Jews, they will not be fasting to atone for their sins, because they know that Yeshua their Messiah has already taken care of all that, once and for all. No - their fast is one of intercession for their dear brothers and sisters who do not yet know Him and the atonement He has bought for them at great cost.

 

Year Of Release

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Screen Shot 2014-09-28 at 2.29.14 PMThis year (5775 in the Jewish calendar) is a Shmita year - a special, one-in-seven kind of a year. God instructed Israel to let the fields lie fallow every seventh year, and give the land its sabbath rest. This is called the “shmita” year in Hebrew, which means a year of “release”. Not only is it a massive test of faith to not work the land for an entire year, but it also has blessings for those in poverty and debt: the poor are free to glean all the naturally growing crops they want for no charge, and all debts among the people of Israel are cancelled. They are released. That can only be good, right?

 

Shana Tova! Make A Joyful Noise!

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Screen Shot 2014-09-24 at 11.27.35 AMShana tova! Happy new year! Tonight Jewish people across the globe are starting their new years celebrations, called “Rosh HaShana” which means literally “Head of the Year”, even though Biblically, the Jewish year starts in the Spring. In the Bible, this festival is called the Feast of Trumpets, or of shouting or loud noises!

The Lord spoke to Moses, saying,
“Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a sabbath-rest, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation. You shall do no customary work on it; and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord.’”

Leviticus 23:23-25

 

The Month Of Elul: A Time To Turn

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uturnIn the Hebrew calendar, today is the 22nd of Elul, 5774 years since the creation of the world. Elul is a special month of preparation and repentance before the "Ten Days of Awe” starting with Rosh HaShanah - the Feast of Trumpets (which will start on 24th September this year), and continuing until Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement ten days later. It’s time to turn our backs on sin and turn towards God again. It’s time to turn away from the world, and look to the face of the One who loves and leads us. If we want to say “repent” in Hebrew we say, “Lachzor be Tshuva” - to return to the answer. Actually the two words both imply a return - one is to return as one might go away from home and return later, and the other is from the root word to respond, or reply, to come back with an answer.

Shevet Achim - Dwelling Together

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Screen Shot 2014-09-11 at 10.20.58 AMPerhaps you heard about the Syrians who were treated in Israeli hospitals this year, or the field hospital Israel set up at the Gaza border for Palestinians? Israel has excellent medical care and is generous in sharing that expertise with the world, and even with those who are hostile to the Jewish state.

One organisation dedicated to helping to bless Israel by serving her neighbours in this way is called “Shevet Achim”; a ministry based in Jerusalem that coordinates travel, visas and medical appointments for children with life-threatening heart problems from the nations surrounding Israel.

 

The name “Shevet Achim” comes from a verse in Psalm 133 which talks about brothers dwelling together in unity. As they bring Syrian, Kurdish, Iraqi, and Gazan children into Israel to be treated, these servants of God help to make links of love and peace instead of fear and enmity.

Arabs And Jews Worship Together

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Screen Shot 2014-08-31 at 1.44.48 PM“We decided to be the Good Samaritan”, explained an Arab pastor to a crowd of Jewish and Arab believers who had gathered for an evening of fellowship and worship on the Mount of Olives last Thursday. They had decided as a church to love the ones they were not supposed to love, according to the world. They had first agreed to look out for online arguments full of hatred, and started to sow seeds of peace wherever they found them. As they posted loving words into the furious facebook fights, they noticed the conversations often started to turn from being vindictive into becoming more kind. “So then”, he explained to the gathering who enjoyed a barbeque as the sun set over Jerusalem, “We decided to take it up a level”...

 

The Blessing Of Dew

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Screen Shot 2014-08-24 at 10.22.45 AMThe word “dew” appears 34 times in the Bible, and is primarily seen as a blessing. It is used poetically and symbolically in many places, and is quite different to the blessing of rain. We are heading towards Succot in October, when prayers for rain begin in earnest, but since the time of Passover, Jewish people across the land have been praying the “Tfilat Tal”: a prayer or blessing for dew, which asks God to bring a light out of the darkness to draw Israel to himself as a root finds water from dew.

 

Rain will always catch our attention, as anyone caught out in the rain will know. It can be heard in the pitter patter of raindrops, or the pummelling of a heavy shower. Dew, on the other hand, is silent. It does not draw attention to itself at all. It can be seen as a more humble, unassuming version of rain; never causing damage, gentle, nourishing and dependable.

Is God Bringing His People Home?

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Screen Shot 2014-08-19 at 5.10.49 PM"For I will bring them back to their own land that I gave to their fathers. “Behold, I am sending for many fishers, declares the Lord, and they shall catch them. And afterwards I will send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain and every hill, and out of the clefts of the rocks.”" (Jeremiah 16:15-16)

The miracles of God’s promises to Israel continue to unfold; the good, the bad and the ugly. In very many places, the Scriptures prepare us for the fact that God was planning to bring His people back to His land by hook or by crook. With anti-Semitism spiraling out of all control around the world, many Jewish people are now deciding that they would be safer in war-torn Israel under the protection of the IDF than they are in Europe, and are packing their bags to escape while they still can. They are being hunted and hounded back to the land given to their fathers, just as the Bible said.

 

A Day Of Love

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tu_BavThe ancient tradition of the Jewish “Day of Love” is on “Tu B’Av” or, the 15th of the Jewish month of Av, which will start at sunset tonight, and continue until sunset on Monday. The tradition is that unmarried women should go to dance in the vineyards, wearing white dresses (so that no one had the advantage of fancy clothes) and that men would go and pick one to be their bride. The Talmud speaks about this tradition immediately after describing how to mark the sad day of Tisha B’Av, which was the week before. In tractate Taanit, the young men are called upon to choose wisely, using Proverbs 31 as their guide. The theme of love and marriage is so important in Judaism, and indeed the Bible, not only to be fruitful and multiply, but because it manifests the plans, heart and nature of God, right before our eyes. The very definition of true love.

 

Acquainted With The Bitterest Grief

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tishah_bav"Tisha B’Av", the 9th day of the Jewish month of Av, falls this year from the evening of Tuesday 4th August until the evening of the 5th. Tisha B'Av is a national day of mourning that happens every year in Israel. The shops, restaurants and entertainment venues are shut by law, and it is considered inappropriate to laugh, joke or even to greet one another warmly on this day. It is on this day in history that not only was Solomon’s temple destroyed in 586 BC, but also the second temple was destroyed in 70 AD on exactly the same date. Tisha B’Av marks not only these two events but also many other tragedies that have happened to the Jewish people, and the land is drenched with sorrow this year as well. It is said that the temples fell for "lack of brotherly love", and as you can see below, many of the other events that fell upon this same date also result from a lack of love that has led to great suffering.

 

Believers Under Fire

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Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 10.12.38 AMHated by the world for being Israeli, and hated by Israel for believing in Jesus, Israeli believers are in a tough spot right now. Around the world, even some who support Israel are losing confidence in the ethics of this war with the numbers of dead civilians and devastation in Gaza increasing daily. The nations, as Zechariah predicted, are turning against Israel. The death count makes the other important facts about this conflict hard to see. Within Israel itself, the people are unifying in solidarity in the face of global opposition and the constant threat of terror, and yet Jewish people who believe that Yeshua is the Messiah are not considered part of the people of Israel either.

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ONE FOR ISRAEL is a ministry-initiative of native-born Israels (Jews & Arabs one in Christ!) on the forefront of high-tech evangelism, proclaiming salvation in Jesus to Israel, raising up leaders and equipping them with the tools they need to transform Israel with the gospel of Messiah! ONE FOR ISRAEL is perhaps the only place in the middle east where true peace can be found - in Jesus!

2000 years have passed since the first Jewish followers of Yeshua proclaimed the gospel in Jerusalem. The gospel went forth from Zion to Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the earth. Our generation has seen not only the prophetic rebirth of the modern state of Israel but also the miraculous spiritual re-birth of thousands of Israelis who have recognized the ONE of whom Moses and the Prophets wrote. The circle has been completed, and the good news of Messiah is being proclaimed once again from Zion. One For Israel is reaching and discipling the current and next generation of followers of Messiah. Using innovative methods and technologies, we are sending God’s Word out again from Zion throughout the world proclaiming the gospel of Messiah.

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