Oasis Newsletter

Oasis Volume 20, Issue 10

Whose Plan are We Following Anyway?

Men climbers help each other in the mountains

In English, you say: “Misery loves company.” Looking at it now on my computer screen, it’s not a very nice expression.

In Hebrew, we say: “צרת רבים חצי נחמה” ― which means, “The sorrow (misery) of many is partial comfort to a single individual.”

We humans are such bags of contradiction. We want to stand out. We want to be special. But we also want to belong, to be a member of a group, to find identification with others, and perhaps even more so when we are struggling. The way we handle good fortune and success, as well as the way we handle difficulty and hard knocks, is determined by our personality, our upbringing and, certainly, our cultural proclivity.

In Israel, there is a humorous cultural phenomenon, which I am sure must also exist elsewhere, that of almost a “complaining competition.”  This challenge, to see who’s more pathetic or more wrought with suffering, can get pretty ridiculous. On a superficial level, this sociological sport may be entertaining. On a deeper soul level, though, it blocks us from responding seriously to each other’s pain.

On top of that, in this strange new reality where we are instructed to physically distance ourselves from those around us, we instinctively respond with suspicion to every one we meet: they may be sick, contagious or dangerous! This reaction does not really foster a peaceful, harmonious, trusting atmosphere.

The Bible tells us to “bear the burdens of one another, for in this way you fulfil the law of the Messiah” (Galatians 6:2). When we stand together and insist on trusting and confiding in each other, encouraging and exhorting one another to hope and to faith, very simply put, we are doing the right thing. I know that when my kids follow the rules we put in place in our home, it blesses this mother’s heart. That’s what the phrase ‘law of The Messiah’ sounds like to me. When we bear one another’s burdens, we are pleasing the very heart of God. This requires effort from both sides―effort to trust and effort to be trustworthy.

On Tuesday mornings, a group of women meet up at the Tents of Mercy congregational building to talk, pray and share Scripture with one another. The makeup of the group changes from time to time when job schedules change or children’s needs prohibit moms from participating, but it is consistently a diverse group. Although we speak together in Hebrew, the current conglomeration includes women from six different backgrounds―Ukrainian, native Israeli, Estonian, Argentinian, American, and Russian. During the weeks of lockdown we met by video chat, and then resumed meeting in person when regulations were relaxed.

We love getting together and we love one another, but it is always an effort to make the meetings happen. It actually feels like it takes supernatural effort, which is, in fact, the reality. The devil’s agenda is to get us to blame, mistrust and distance ourselves from one another. But God designed us to support one another, walk with one another, to trust and obey Him together. The fact of the matter is that, while relationships are the hardest thing, they are also the most rewarding things. When we stand together, it pleases God’s heart. Just like it pleases my heart when my kids love and support one another, help one another and forgive each other. Not only that, but it is also God’s design and desire that this love would draw others into the kingdom: “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35)

It’s a simple plan, but it’s NOT easy

We must insist on walking together in trust and love, even when we hurt one another. We must have the humility and forgiveness to continue walking together and know that God “has our back” and, out of that place, to serve those around us. That’s what is unique to God’s kingdom: humility, trust, and forgiveness.

The autumn Biblical holidays give us a tangible opportunity to put this plan into action. As a community, we, at Tents of Mercy, have packed over 800 food bags and are distributing many of them door to door. It has been exciting to watch God provide the funds to buy the goods and provide the volunteers to pack and deliver the bags. Praise God for His faithfulness and goodness to give us life, to sustain us and to bring us to this season!

In the first chapter of Isaiah, we read:

Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean;
Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes.
Cease to do evil,
Learn to do good;
Seek justice,
Rebuke the oppressor;

Defend the fatherless,
Plead for the widow.

“Come now, and let us reason together,”
Says the Lord,
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
They shall be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They shall be as wool.”

(Isaiah 1:16-18)

The fall holidays with the Sounding of the Trumpet, the Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Tabernacles offer a perfect opportunity to reassess if we are living according to this divine plan. – Hannahby Hannah Tekle

How Will We Conquer?

Are you familiar with the story of the twelve spies sent out by Moses to go into the land of Canaan and secretly explore the land promised to their forefathers?

In Numbers 13:16-20, Moses instructed them what to look for:

“Is the promised land fruitful? Is it going to be easy to conquer?”

The spies brought back a large cluster of grapes symbolizing the fruitfulness of the land. They had both good news and bad news to share:

“The land is fruitful but the people there are strong and well defended.”

When Caleb recommended they go in to conquer the land, most of the other men disagreed, saying the land “devours its inhabitants” and even referred to themselves as grasshoppers in comparison to the people there. Out of the 12 spies, Joshua and Caleb were the only ones who encouraged the Israelites that, with God’s help, they could succeed and conquer the land.

Joshua stood at the head of the armies of Israel through a series of supernatural and remarkable victories in battle (Joshua chapters 8 to 12). Joshua conquered much of the land. However, within the biblical inheritance of the nation of Israel, there remained portions that were not conquered under his leadership.

The northern port city of Akko, where our congregation is located, was one of those areas. Some of Israel’s enemies were called the Sea Peoples; later known as the Philistines. They came from different areas across the sea and settled along the Mediterranean coast, as well as along the rivers, which flowed into the sea. In Akko, a low hill or “tell” rises on the location of the original city. Archaeologists have noted that the type of buildings there are unlike others in ancient Canaan/Israel. The type of architecture uncovered at the site is like that of buildings in Corsica and areas around the Aegean Sea. History shows that these Sea People were strong and not easily defeated. With this knowledge, we understand the type of people that the Israelites were facing in battle when attempting to conquer Akko. Later, in Judges 4:1-24, we read that when Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, He handed them over to their enemies. The battle mentioned here takes place in an area along the Kishon River called Kiryat Haroshet in northern Israel.

While all of this is very interesting, you may wonder how it applies to us. Like Joshua, we also want to conquer. We want to overcome enemy strongholds in our lives, our families and beyond, to take possession of what God has promised.

The way I see it is that when we obey God, we remain in His will. However, when we disobey God or when we distance ourselves from Him, the enemy gains a foothold, rises up, and we stray from God’s purposes.

In this case, we often find ourselves going around in circles, not gaining possession of that which was promised. We must remain focused on Him; drawing close, ready to serve or to go as He commands. There are times when God may allow the enemy to operate in our lives, in order to wake us up to repent and get back on track. This is what happened to Israel (2 Chronicles 12:2), and Paul makes reference to it as well (1 Corinthians 5:5).

Our faith journey through life will sometimes be a longer and more painful process than we had hoped. It will involve some setbacks and even temporary defeats. But take heart, for God sees the big picture and He has promised “that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). His plans in and through us will be accomplished.Guy by Guy Cohen

Trouble in The North

Shalom!

 Thank you for your prayers and support, which enable us to serve here in Israel!

“As surely as the Lord lives, who brought the Israelites up out of the land of the north and out of all the countries where he had banished them.’ For I will restore them to the land I gave their ancestors.” (Jeremiah 16:15)

Aliyah ― New Immigrants

giftWe continue to pray for the return of Jews to Israel and we continue to help those who have already returned, in many ways including practically, with home and kitchen supplies.

Sixty percent of the Shavei Zion community consists of those who are a living fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy. My family made Aliyah (returned from the diaspora) to Israel. And even now the hand of God is continuing to do what the prophets predicted―restoring the exiles to the land He gave their ancestors, especially from the land of the north. The “land of the north” is often interpreted as referring to the countries of the Former Soviet Union, including Belarus, where I myself was born. (Probably not very many know this, but four of Israel’s prime ministers were born in Belarus.)

News of Trouble in the North

Since I grew up in Belarus, I have been paying particular attention to the upheaval happening there and am often aggravated and disturbed by what is reported.

mapI left for Israel together with my parents when I was 22 years old. I had many years to become acquainted with the anti-Semitism that pervaded Belarusian society. People of the older generation, including my parents, knew this injustice on a deep personal level. Today, as the dictator Lukashenko attempts to cling to the remnants of his power by restricting freedom,  beating and intimidating his people, my heart is worried and aching.

Friends, I ask you to pray for Belarus, for the freedom of the people there. And I ask that you hold us and our team in Israel in your prayers as well.Lean

 With respect and love,

Leon and Nina Mazin

It’s a Simple Plan, but it’s NOT Easy

shofarWe must insist on walking together in trust and love, even when we hurt one another. We must have the humility and forgiveness to continue walking together and know that God “has our back” and, out of that place, to serve those around us. That’s what is unique to God’s kingdom: humility, trust, and forgiveness.

The autumn Biblical holidays give us a tangible opportunity to put this plan into action. As a community, we, at Tents of Mercy, have packed over 800 food bags and are distributing many of them door to door. It has been exciting to watch God provide the funds to buy the goods and provide the volunteers to pack and deliver the bags. Praise God for His faithfulness and goodness to give us life, to sustain us and to bring us to this season!

In the first chapter of Isaiah, we read:

Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean;
Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes.
Cease to do evil,
Learn to do good;
Seek justice,
Rebuke the oppressor;
Defend the fatherless,
Plead for the widow.
“Come now, and let us reason together,”
Says the LORD,
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
They shall be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They shall be as wool.”
(Isaiah 1:16-18)

The fall holidays with the Sounding of the Trumpet, the Day of Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles offer a perfect opportunity to reassess if we are living according to this divine plan.

packaging food bags
Avi


2 Responses to Oasis Volume 20, Issue 10

Leave a Comment!