A Tough Fight
by Eitan Shishkoff
I’m now a COVID Survivor! How does it feel when this Coronavirus takes over your body? I can tell you from personal experience. It feels like you got hit by an 18-wheeler!
If anyone doubts the seriousness of this disease, let me tell you, it can pack a wallop. I was in isolation for 19 days, cared for hour after hour by my beyond-the-call-of-duty wife, Connie. Now, I’m experiencing life anew.
Tenderly Grateful for your Prayers!
May I take this opportunity to thank each of you who expressed concern, love, and the commitment to pray for me? I take none of this for granted. God raised me up, responding to your prayers.
I contracted Covid during the Katzir (Harvest) Summer Teen Conference. Some 72 others, youth, counselors, and senior advisors also tested positive. The majority had only light symptoms, and the bottom line was not the disease! The bottom line was that almost every young person at the conference experienced a deep encounter with the Living God.
Here is my personal list of conclusions after going through the tough fight and dark tunnel of Covid
- LOVE is the chief thing
- There is nothing so dear as a selfless, caring spouse
- Take PRAYER seriously—so many were praying. There was definite impact.
- LIFE is a deposit from God for His gain. He’s entrusted me with days on the earth to use/live for His pleasure.
- Cherish every DAY. Develop a SLOWER “speed” in my internal “mental-emotional” clock.
- Be more PATIENT. Some things just take time. Besides all the meds and steam inhalation and rest, I could not speed up the healing process.
- The BODY is fragile—very fragile. Handle with care.
- Keep life SIMPLE
- PERSEVERANCE – Don’t give up!
How can we all prepare for the days ahead?
Flat on my back with Covid for over two weeks, I had plenty of time to consider life’s fundamental question: What, in addition to basic physical existence, is truly important? After being handed back my health, what am I now to be doing with the days I’ve been granted? Indeed, what will we all do with the remaining days we’ve been granted.
Among the crucial pursuits, I believe we should dedicate ourselves to preparing for the coming of our King…
“Prepare the Way of the Lord!”
This biblical imperative appears in Isaiah 40:3. The prophet is speaking of the ultimate arrival of the Redeemer, who will bring the glory of God to the whole earth. It’s a moving passage that brims with hope and expectation. But what does it mean for us? As we are seemingly caught in a roller coaster of:
- hellish Islamic holy war,
- a virus that has “gone viral,” and
- widespread economic woes?
How can one prepare for an uncertain and threatening future? Is there additional instruction beyond Isaiah’s poetic passage? Importantly, yes! The theme of preparation for the return of the King can be easily traced through the Scriptures. God is not leaving us unprepared. He will equip us and guide us through to Yeshua’s final victory over all evil.
- Stay Close to the Lord: Inner Preparation of the Heart
As always, God gives priority to our inner reality, the condition of our heart. Knowing that these times will be fearful, He exhorts us to place our confidence solidly in Him and in the soon coming of our King.
“Abide in Him, that when He appears we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.” (1 John 2:28)
“Therefore be patient, brethren until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and the latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.” (James 5:7-8)
- Be Watchful in Prayer: Going Deeper in Intercession
The place of true prayer, sometimes pushed to the side in our busy lives, becomes front and center as the curtain opens on history’s final act.
“The end of all things is at hand, therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers. And above all things, have fervent love for one another, for love will cover a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:7-8)
“Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to come through all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:36)
III. Share your Faith Lovingly and Boldly, in the Power of the Spirit: End of the Age Harvest
What is the Father’s burden as we approach the Day of the Lord? It is to gather in every one of His human children who will repent and become His daughter or son. And we are His messengers, to carry His heart everywhere we go!
“This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all nations and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14)
“On my menservants and on my maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days…before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD. And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.” (Joel 2:29-32)
In light of the increasing urgency of the circumstances around us, the focus He is calling us to, is to prepare for the coming of the Lord. May His grace and peace empower us.
By Leon Mazin
“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)
Since March 2020, when Covid first came to Israel, our congregants had not gotten sick. This was remarkable considering that hundreds of people pass through our facility every week – for congregational events, the music school, humanitarian aid, etc.
However, on July 23, 2021, by some unknown means, Covid broke into the congregation.
Everyone was affected in one way or another. I was in the hospital for 10 days in intensive care, though I able to understand everything that was happening around me. I received God’s grace and the many sincere prayers of friends. A strange feeling occurred when my oxygen level dropped. There was no fear of death, even though death was near.
In all probability, for everyone, there comes a time of lowered resistance, opening us up for the moment of meeting with our Maker. God determined that my moment had not yet come. Now I am back at home with my family, and we are all recovering together. Even our 3-month-old grandson got ill, along with eighty people in the congregation. Covid infected both the vaccinated, and the un-vaccinated. August, instead of being a time for summer vacation, turned into a month of illness and recovery!
God is the one who helped us get through all of this. He is faithful!
Ministry to children of economically challenged families
In our Music and Art School, after a challenging school year, we arranged a final concert on July 8th. At times the children had to learn online using Zoom and Skype, before returning to in-person lessons. The students performed exceptionally well; the parents were overwhelmed with joy; and the teachers were bursting with pride. We are so grateful to God for His mercy and grace with so many difficulties during the past year. This ministry helps children from low-income families develop their talents in music and arts, and learn about the beauty of God through creativity. Presently, we mentor about 90 children from the neighboring areas of our community.
On July 13th, we had the privilege of organizing a festive dinner and concert in our building for those who went through the horrors of the Holocaust. We expected 50 people, but due to the heat, about 40 people attended the event. We were moved by how God touched them. They enjoyed delicious food and listened with admiration as children from our music school performed their pieces and shared what they had learned throughout the year. Many of these elderly people are over 85 and have gone through “hell on earth.” We seek to minister to them through prayer and to bring some healing for their inner wounds by giving them love and attention.
In mid-June a dozen people were ready to be baptized, thanks in part, to the fellowship and patient discipling of our elders and leaders. Even while following governmental policies of social distancing, the Lord continues to add those being saved! These people join home groups and are growing spiritually. We humbly listened to their wonderful testimonies during our Shabbat service on July 23rd.
We appreciate your prayer, partnership and friendship. Thanks to you, we can minister effectively.
Name Written in Book of Life?
By Guy Cohen
The Hebrew month of “Elul” comes in late summer and is a month of repentance leading up to the Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah; See Leviticus 23) and the solemn Holy Days at the start of the following month (Tishrei).
According to Jewish tradition, God opens the Book of Life and judges the world during this season. That’s why it’s taken as a time for repentance; during which time additional prayers are offered.
This year I visited Jerusalem in late summer and heard Orthodox Jews rising early to pray and then continuing through the night, trying to prepare their hearts. From the Day of Trumpets until the tenth of the month, Orthodox prayers grow in intensity during the ten “days of awe” until they reach a climax on Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement). On that day, according to Jewish tradition, the Book of Life is closed for the year (Leviticus 23:27). It’s customary to greet one another with the saying G’mar Chatimah Tovah – “May you be inscribed (in the Book of Life) for good.” The expanded meaning is, “May God look at your heart and find you to be truly repentant and changed. May He grant you this coming year and seal you in the Book of Life.”
Let’s see the progressive understanding of the Book of Life throughout the Word:
Moses in Exodus 32:32-33 said, “‘Alas, this people has committed a great sin, and they have made a god of gold for themselves. But now, if You will, forgive their sin—and if not, please blot me out from Your book which You have written!’ The Lord said to Moses, ‘Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book.’”
“Now at that time Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people, will arise. And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued.” (Daniel 12:1)
“Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another, and the Lord gave attention and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the Lord and who esteem His name.” (Malachi 3:16)Yeshua in Luke 10:20 says, “Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven.”
“But you have come to Mount Zion… the heavenly Jerusalem… and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect.” (Hebrews 12:22-23)
“He who overcomes… I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.” (Revelation 3:5)
“And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:15)
“… and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” (Revelation 21:27)
I am compelled to come before God in intercession on behalf of my people asking that their eyes be opened to the One who has already made provision for their eternal salvation; that they may be sealed, written in the Lamb’s book of life.