- A Lesson-Filled Doughnut
- Begin the Change
- Looking Back and Looking Ahead
- A Plea from Our Father
- Download January Newsletter
A Lesson-Filled Doughnut
As a multicultural family, it seems there is always some holiday we are working towards or recovering from. We recently celebrated Sigd, the Ethiopian-Jewish holiday of thanksgiving to God for bringing us home to Israel. Then, suddenly, doughnuts were everywhere―mainly the classic Israeli red-jelly-filled, sugar-frosted ones, but also versions with chocolate, caramel and nougat fillings, covered with decadent frostings.
So, what’s the deal with all the oil-fried treats that only appear here for a few months out of the year? During Chanukah, fried foods are eaten to commemorate the small bottle of oil that the Maccabees found in the temple when they cleansed and rededicated it, which lasted a miraculous eight days until more oil could be brought to keep the everlasting light lit.
For being such a huge, powerful, sovereign Creator of the Universe, it sure seems that God cares an awful lot about the tiny, insignificant things – amounts of money, oil, talents, etc.
A small amount of oil proving to be a big deal appears in a few places in the scriptures. In I Kings 17, God directs Elijah the prophet to a widow from Zeraphath, whose small amount of oil is multiplied. Matthew 25 tells the parable of the ten virgins: five had a small quantity of oil for their lamps, and five did not.
In one story, the oil represents provision and, in the other, preparation.
True confession: I have always felt sorry for the five unprepared virgins, understanding their forgetfulness and feeling sad that they missed out and failed due to their haphazardness, a characteristic to which I can readily relate. Recently, we have studied the parable in our congregation and continued deeper in our women’s group. Coming to a better understanding, I am encouraged that even as a non-type-A personality, I can prepare myself. The virgins who didn’t have oil asked to borrow from their friends, but their friends told them to go get some for themselves. This small bit of oil is something we have to seek on our own. Psalm 81:10 says, “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt: open wide your mouth, and I will fill it.” It’s not a complicated process, merely an act of personal initiative to bring an empty jar and have it filled. When we bring our emptiness before Him, He is faithful to fill us.
Likewise, the jar of oil in the story of Hanukkah had a small amount that was enough, by God’s grace. In a recent post-service congregational Zoom call, we heard a testimony and exhortation from a dear brother in the congregation. He and his wife are doing what small acts of service that they can, to encourage others. In doing so, they are able to rejoice despite frustrations and difficulties. He encouraged all of us to not despise the small things we can do or are prompted to do, because God uses the small things and miraculously multiplies them to provide enough.
The next time you indulge in a doughnut or any other oil-fried delight, think about those small jars of oil. Remember God’s provision and faithfulness when we bring before Him our little, and even our emptiness for Him to fill. – By Hannah Tekle
Begin the Change
I was born and raised in the city of Akko. As a young boy, due to a fever, I lost 80% of my hearing. Because of this, I was labeled by teachers and ridiculed by children. As I think back on that difficult time, I realize that if you want to change yourself or the opinion of others about you, don’t wait for someone else to inspire you. Begin the change yourself.
Many times, people say things such as, “he/she is slow, incapable, or lazy.” You can agree with what others say about you – or not. If you have a confident attitude and do not accept their negativity, their opinion may change. No matter what, do not belittle yourself.
Sometimes we have to be like Abraham. When he obeyed God’s call for him to leave his “comfort zone,” he was like a chick inside the egg, struggling and pushing until it breaks through the shell.
There are times when others see potential They may expect more from us than we are ready to give. If we choose to move toward the goal, we can succeed and turn the tide in our own lives. Without struggle, we won’t reach our potential.
The change begins as we ask, “What does God say about me?”
Does it line up with how you see yourself and what you say about yourself?
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen… By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible” (Hebrews 11:1-3).
Faith is like a tank or bulldozer moving us forward toward the goal. Only we, by believing the lies of the enemy and by thinking ungodly thoughts about ourselves, can allow ourselves to get stuck. Through prayer and seeking God, find a purpose in which to invest your life.
We were created to make a change, and faith is meant to bring forth breakthroughs in our lives and those of others. There are many times in the Word and the history of Israel when those in leadership, while looking at the current situation, were the very ones who cast doubt – bringing the situation to a halt. In many cases, someone else rose up and stood in faith bringing the breakthrough. We must beware of those well-meaning people who talk about what cannot be done; AND we must ALSO be careful not to be our own worst enemy, not to be used as a tool of the enemy against ourselves. Instead, we should be encouraged in our faith and instructed in our walk by Yeshua’s example in John 5:8-9, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.”
“Prepare the way, Take the stumbling block out of the way of My people” (Isaiah 57:14). Take action.
“… Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Yeshua, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls” (Hebrews 12:1-3). – by Guy Cohen
Looking Back and Looking Ahead
Peace upon you from the Father of our Savior, Yeshua the Messiah. Thank you for your faithful partnership with Return to Zion Ministry! It is such a blessing to have you teaming up with us to do God’s will in the land of Israel.
In 2019, we heard at least ten prophecies that spoke of how blessed and miraculous 2020 would be. Yet when the New Year arrived, it brought anxiety and stress to countless people around the globe, a depressing quarantine and unclear expectations of the future. We, too, have strongly felt the repercussions of the pandemic. Our congregation has almost totally transitioned to online meetings, losing precious face-to-face communication with many brothers and sisters.
However, this year has also brought the opportunity for many families to grow closer and spend more time together. We have also been given precious time to devote to prayer and intercession.
What are we to think of all this?
All in all, there were some mistakes as well as some successes; testing and sifting, separation and unification. “We know that to those who love God… called according to His will, everything works together for good” (Romans 8:28).
As the Hanukkah and Christmas season surround us, two thoughts persistently fill my heart:
Hanukkah as a symbol for rededication of the altar, renewal of the value of faith as well as renewal of confidence.
Christmas as a symbol for the power of God becoming flesh – as the Messiah in this world, and affirmation building up our faith in our heart. The book of Revelation reminds us: “Do not lose your first love.”
I want to wish each of you renewal and affirmation in the Lord our God, and the ability to bring forth the best! Grace and help to you these days! We love you!
Friends, you are our valued partners in the ministry here in Israel! Please remember us in your prayers: the work with the poor and new immigrants, the school for the arts and the members of our congregation during these uncertain times.
May the Lord be with us all as we continue into 2021 – bringing love and light to our communities!
Leon and Nina Mazin
A Plea from Our Father
Tragically, our world is still filled with conflict, hatred, and war-born suffering. Not only have things not changed in the past 60 years, now they’re worse. A short list of nations currently at war includes Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria, Mexico, Turkey (vs. the Kurds), Somalia, Republic of the Congo, Burkina Faso, Mali, Iraq, Nigeria, South Sudan, and Ethiopia.
This list—which sanitizes the blood being spilled, families destroyed, and bitterness planted for future revenge—should bring tears to our eyes. Can we begin to imagine the sorrow of God’s heart to watch, as His earthly children torture and devour one another?
Answers in Yeshua’s Prayer
When I read Yeshua’s impassioned prayer in John 17, I hear the Father’s longing to bring His human family together. But surveying the globe—how in the world can that possibly happen?
The keys are “hiding in plain sight” within the verses of this phenomenal prayer. Yeshua is THE ultimate intercessor. “He ever lives to make intercession…” (Hebrews 7:25). So, what does the Messiah pray? What is “the Why” of His petition? And, how does He request the Father achieve this oneness of His followers?
The “Why” is stated in Ephesians 1:10 “…that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Messiah.” As any good father desires, the Father of mankind longs to bring His children together in loving, cooperative relationship. This heart is what drove Yeshua to a Roman cross—to reconcile us once and for all to God and to each other (2 Corinthians 5:18-20). No wonder Psalm 133 compares “dwelling together in unity” with the blessing of everlasting life.
The Key – His glory in you
Fine. A noble and lofty goal, you say. But how in the world can we overcome our petty differences, much less foster a kingdom of peace? In His prayer, Yeshua focuses on a radical truth as the key to true oneness. “And the glory which you gave me I have given them, that they may be one just as we are one.” (John 17:22) Before dealing with international strife, our Lord is beginning with His followers—with us.
Sadly, we are aware of countless shameful wasteful divisions among New Covenant believers—contention and disputation dishonoring to His name. The challenge is: Will I take the glory He’s extending to me, and be healed of the bitter poison of thinking my group is the best and pointing the finger?
There is an available impartation of His radiant, glorious, resplendent nature. He came, to transmit that nature to my heart and to yours—to make us one. And, ultimately, to unite all of mankind, when “the wolf and the lamb will feed together” (Isaiah 65:25).
He then sends us into a divided world, armed with His glory. “As you sent me into this world, I also have sent them into the world…that the world may know that you sent me” (John 17:18, 23). Yeshua, the Prince of Peace, has appointed us as His ambassadors of true reconciliation and of the unity that flows from the heart of God. – By Eitan Shishkoff