- What’s Up With 2020?
- Affliction, Hope & Relief
- Defeat, Victory or Just a Good Lesson?
- Download July Newsletter
What’s Up With 2020?
Matters of the HeartOh when is this going to end? I had a hunch in my spirit that 2020 would not be as great as some prophesied, but I honestly was not expecting what we are all witnessing today. Pandemic, social distancing, economical unrest, the evil of racism, anger, violence and epic losses. These are all accumulating into a mountain of broken hearts and human mistrust. I can’t wait to say goodbye to 2020, lie down in green pastures and have Him restore my soul beside the still waters.
Unfortunately, it’s only July. Half of 2020 still awaits. So I am asking now like my hero Martin Luther King asked, “Where do we go from here: chaos or community?” He asked that question after achieving great progress through non-violent marches. The Voting Rights Bill of 1965 was the result. When signing the bill, President Johnson declared that, “Today is a triumph for freedom as huge as any victory that’s ever been won on any battlefield … today we strike away the last major shackle of … fierce and ancient bonds.” But a year later, the backlash came in Chicago with a “thunder of jeering thousands” amid a riotous rain of rocks, bottles, burning automobiles and Nazi flags, as King recounted in his autobiography.
All the challenges we face point to one address: our hearts! It is easy to contest an unjust law, but more difficult to change the heart. If change doesn’t start from the heart, then legislating a law is like burying a dangerous animal that is still alive.
What our heart finds hard to change or release, are false narratives. False narratives use the force of stories to enter our hearts, but then poison us with untrue assumptions. The other reason it is hard to let go of false narratives, is that they usually come down to us from those we consider our kinsmen.
I speak to all – whites, blacks, Jews, Gentiles, males, females, young and old – we all need to take a hard look at our past and to correct those false narratives. Let’s open a clean page titled “God’s family on earth.” May He help us all!
This honest look may bring us to our knees. It may cause us to see others in a new light. It may cause us to repent, but mostly I pray it will turn us to the heart of the Father. There we will hear afresh ancient instructions, with a renewed heart. “He has shown you, O man, what is good … what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)
We also need to speak up. In the midst of injustice, silence only makes things worse. It happened when the Nazis began plotting their mass cleansing of Jews. So will it be in our day if we sit in our comfortable armchair of indifference and remain silent. I believe we should sound a clear trumpet call. Let’s speak against bigotry and violence, proclaiming the sacredness of all humans as bearers of the image of God. – Avi Tekle
Affliction, Hope & Relief
“Do not hide Your face from me in the day of my trouble…” (Psalm102:2).Psalm 102:1-12 is the prayer of a man in the midst of suffering. We can identify with him. He is bringing his complaints, fears and sorrows before God. He feels pressure from many directions. He speaks specifically about his enemies and also his physical body. On the other hand we get the impression that part of the problem is that the writer feels distanced from God.
Whatever the reason, whether it was a personal struggle on David’s part or whether God was displeased with his actions and was waiting for repentance; this is a dangerous place for anyone to be in.
How is it possible to come before God in this situation? We see the dryness of his physical, mental and spiritual being. David needs water. He needs the presence of the Holy Spirit from whom he drew his very life. The birds referenced are those that inhabit deserts and ruined places, symbols of death and destruction (verse 6).
Interestingly David describes the sense of feeling alone like a bird perching on a roof (verse 7). When is David pictured as being alone on a roof? It was when he saw Bathsheba, and where did that lead him? David fell into that situation by not being where he was supposed to be.
The depth of David’s suffering is pictured as his tears fill his drinking cup (verse 9). Everyone is against him. Where else in the Word do we read of someone being scorned? We see Yeshua in this very place, calling out to Abba from a place of emptiness, far from God, a place of suffering when all but a few had turned against Him. “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me? Why are You so far from helping Me, and from the words of My groaning?” (Psalm 22:1; Matthew 27:46)
This is a place of transparent weakness and even doubt, in which we too may find ourselves. In verse 12 we see the “click” in David as he turns to God. “But you, O LORD shall endure forever, and the remembrance of your name to all generations…”
The change comes through proclaiming who God is and what He has promised. This Psalm is not written as one person’s suffering only, but for all of us. No one is immune to times of struggle, testing and sorrow. God wants us to turn to and lean on Him.
Who are the prisoners mentioned here and what are the prisons in verse 20? Fear of death is one of the greatest prisons of all for those who are not living under God’s refuge. He takes us beyond the pressures of this world. When we enter into praise and worship, we give thanks to God and are filled with His Spirit. We find the way to climb out of our confusion, fear and doubt.
In this place we go from a bird alone on a roof to being “renewed” like an eagle soaring above all situations (Isaiah 40:29-31; Psalm 103:5). – By Guy Cohen
Defeat, Victory, or Just a Good Lesson?
This is something to think about and definitely puts many of our challenges in perspective. For me personally, I cannot describe these two months in any other way, than as a chance for re-evaluation, given to us by God.
Many believers ask how can trials, sickness and death “work together for good?” This is not an easy question, especially for those who grew up under the influence of Prosperity Theology.
The truth of the Scriptures is that in the “arsenal” of the Creator there is both good AND evil. He can use both of these to accomplish His purposes. Isaiah 45:7 says, “I form the light, and create darkness; I make peace, and create evil; I, the Lord, do all these things.”
We must see the eternity of good that God has prepared for those who love Him. Asaph was depressed, but then received a revelation. “For I was envious of the foolish when I saw the prosperity of the wicked; … When I thought to understand this, it was too painful for me, Until I went into the sanctuary of God. Then I understood their end.” (Psalm 73:3, 1-17) The “end” speaks of the eternal condition which awaits each one of us upon our death.
Sometimes we are called to walk with God through very difficult places. I write these words for those who are in doubt and who ask, “Where has God been?”
And here is the answer:
God is always close-by, and He desires to grant us mercy. But sometimes the daily routine absorbs our attention so much that He makes use of the fears and horrors of this world, which the world suffers because of the sins of humanity. And through this He is returning his lost children to Himself!
“Arise, shine; for your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you.” (Isaiah 60:1-2)
Something a Bit Less Dramatic
At Return to Zion, we have begun thinking about the importance of weekday worship. We did not have such a practice before we were all forced to stay at home. It was completely unexpected, but the people gathered in front of the computer screens on Mondays and worshipped with their children. And the Holy Spirit moved!
A whole movement of online lessons has begun, and by the grace of the Lord, we are seeing a big increase in viewers. Please pray for our hands to be strengthened and for the needed initiative and wisdom for those who are jealous for the Lord in Israel—to do His work!
We are in prayer for you as well. We ask our Heavenly Father for mercy for your homes! We ask God for everyone to exit the quarantine with moral and economic dignity and to continue to be a light!
We love you and value your friendship,
Leon and Nina Mazin
Through the Scriptures I became more aware of my Jewish heritage and its meaning in the larger plan of God. This awareness in no way separated me from my non-Jewish brothers and sisters in Messiah. On the contrary, it enriched our sense of shared significance in the Kingdom. I first experienced this during Passover celebrations that highlighted the presence of Yeshua in the ancient feast. That our Savior was sacrificed during Passover, just as the lambs in times of old, revealed the interwoven truths of the Old and New Testaments for all of us.
In time, we realized that our destiny was to live in Israel. Again, God’s word was our roadmap. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and their fellow prophets spoke of a regathering of the Jewish people after long exile, back to the land promised to Abraham. From the time Israel became our permanent home, in 1992, our Christian friends from around the world have supported us and cheered us on. They’ve expressed joy and gratitude that God’s words of covenant are being fulfilled at last.
Their encouragement and unfeigned friendship touched me deeply—so much that I began searching the Scriptures to discover the significance of this relationship. What I uncovered became a book about the essential bond of Israel and the nations, of Jewish and Gentile disciples of Yeshua.* Based on the partnership of King Solomon and King Hiram in building God’s House of worship in Jerusalem (1Kings 5), I wrote about our shared calling to see Israel restored to her Messiah and to see the nations revived in His Spirit. I wrote about worshiping Him together.
I, as a father, hold each of my children in the highest value. I see the uniqueness of each of my sons and daughters. In the same way, our Heavenly Father prizes His sons and daughters equally, each one with their distinctive personality and ancestry. Our gifts and callings are different, yet complimentary. Neither Israel nor the nations have anything of which to boast. As we cooperate with Him, the Prince of Peace will reconcile us to Himself and then to each other. That’s how we can truly come together. – Eitan Shishkoff
*What About Us? The End-Time Calling of the Nations in Israel’s Revival