Peace On Earth

 

The armies of heaven
sing praises

the sky fills up
with song

glory to God
in the highest

here’s the Peace for which
you long.

*********

You establish Christmas.

**********

“The Savior – yes, Messiah, the Lord – has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize Him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

“Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others – the armies of heaven – praising God and saying, “

‘Glory to God in highest heaven,
and peace on earth to those with whom God
is pleased.’ . . .

“(The shepherds) hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. After seeing Him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherd’s story were astonished, but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often.”

Luke 2:11-19

**********

Image from The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp, page 253.

Published in: on December 25, 2018 at 7:19 am  Comments Off on Peace On Earth  
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Inside Israel – Blessings!

JerAtNight1

Hello and welcome to a look inside Israel today as our sis in Jerusalem shares about Christmas amidst those who are yet waiting for Him to come!  God bless you and keep you, as you read and pray!  Now, here’s our sis . . .

Dearest sisters and brothers,
Shalom from Jerusalem where we are being blessed by a sunny day in the midst of floods of blessed rain.  Perhaps we shall have an end to this long season of drought…the rains have been plentiful, the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) is filling at a good pace, and we are thankful.
I approach this letter each December with a sense of joy and trepidation.  We all have our views, opinions and convictions based on both our experiences, and they way that we have been led by The Lord along our individual and collective ‘journey’. In Jewish Israel there basically IS no Christmas holiday.  Over the years I have noticed that some people whom I have written to find this hard to grasp, but if the birth of Messiah was denied, if it is believed that Messiah has not yet come…then there is no birthday celebration.  Christmas is a day of work, as usual…no gift giving, no trees, no decorations, no songs, no gatherings and no rejoicing in the knowledge of salvation.  BUT! (I have grown to LOVE that word when it is used to mean ‘BUT [the intervention of] GOD’!)  We Jews are incredibly curious people by nature, and Israelis are FASCINATED by Christmas!  ‘What do these ‘gentiles’ (because most Jews do NOT understand the difference between simply gentile – or non Jew – and Christians) DO?  And WHY?’  Now, enter in to the scenario LOTS of variables.  Here in the land you have Arab Christians (usually Catholic, Russia or Greek Orthodox, Coptic, or one of the other similar groups).  You have a fairly large group of gentile Christians who have ministries here and are ‘expatriates’, maintaining their national culture and identity.  And then you have the Jewish believers, and those who have joined themselves to us. Among the Jewish believers – of which I am one – there are what Chuck referred to at yesterday morning’s 6:30am ifi prayer meeting, the ‘humbug’ believers and the ‘non-humbug’ believers. Most ‘humbugers’ have come from the west where they took a strong stand against the materialism, idolatry and roots of the origin of the modern celebration.  This is VERY legitimate. Then there are those who have incorporated natural Jewish curiosity with the unique opportunity to share the gospel openly on this day. There are also some of us who share our homes with spouses who have particular cultural needs.  When I met HIM, as I have told you before, I was amazed, actually overcome, by the message sung in the Christmas Carrolls! I had never HEARD them before, and there it was…the message that He had been born, being proclaimed openly in commercial areas, on street corners and in homes of people who didn’t know HIM!  I couldn’t get over it!  In the meantime, my own husband didn’t yet know Him so I busied myself with much prayer and preparation to find a way to turn my husbands head toward the wonder of His birth.  I seemed to know right away that this date was only a symbolic date of His birth and that the trappings were so not of HIS kingdom, but The Lord seemed to show me how to make a ‘display’ of HIM in my heart and actions, and to truly celebrate HIS birth.  In those early years I was blessed to be able to see many come to HIM on that day and to sow many seeds.
After we made aliyah – immigrated here – my husband would sink into a dark hole as Christmas approached and he wished for an ‘American Christmas’…although I’m so aware that he wished really for the joy of childhood!  Yearly I have sought The Lord for a creative way to bring HIS comfort to my husband through The Word made flesh. But THIS YEAR…all of our children and Grandchildren are GONE!  ‘Oh Lord!  What do I do?’ Once again He has been so good to us and has opened a number of doors that I know His blessings are behind.  First of all, my boss informed me that I still had 4 days ‘vacation’ left and needed to use them before the 1st of Jan. Up until now I have ALWAYS used my vacation days to help with needs of some sort.  I went online and found a cabin (‘tsimmer’) down in the desert (Sde Boker – the kibbutz that Ben Gurion is from – you can see it here http://www.tripadvisor.com/LocationPhotos-g2009122-d2558019-Boker_Valley_Vineyards_Farm-Sde_Boker_Southern_District.html ) just north of the beautiful crater, Mitzpe Ramon, and booked it for 2 nights (the 26th and 27th) by faith!  Believe it or not, we have been together for more then 40 years and we have NEVER done ANYTHING like this alone!  We never even went on a honeymoon!!  I took the step and told my husband and we are now both very excited.  I would so be blessed knowing that perhaps some of you prayed for my husband to return his heart to The Lord, and also that we would be blessed with rest and refreshing that we do seem to need desperately.  And after I took that initial step of faith?  The provision appeared the following day!  He is just so good!
Meanwhile, a young couple with a two year old son from our fellowship invited us to breakfast at their house on the 25th and my husband is very happy about that. This is the young woman whom I recently took to lunch to encourage.  In the past, on Christmas Eve, we used to attend a service in the old city at Christ Church.  This is the main Protestant Church that has some serious outreach on the night of the 24th and we have seen many amazing things there as much prayer goes into the preparation of the very evangelistic service.  The Church is packed with Jewish ‘site seers’ along with the believers who come to worship and to share.  The Gospel messages are all available in Hebrew and as people listen we have seen them visibly shaken and stay for prayer and counseling.  It is truly a unique and fruitful outreach. In all of this, there is only one purpose: that The Lord Yeshua h’Meshiach, The Lord Jesus Christ would be recognized, glorified and given His place as Lord and King in each of our hearts. As to HOW we do this, I think Paul addressed it perfectly when he said:
 “One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike.  Let each be fully convinced in his own mind.  He who observes the day, observes it to The Lord, and he who does not observe the day, to The Lord he does not observe it.” Rom. 14:5,6 
Below is a short, interesting interview from the perspective of an ‘expatriate’ Christian in a large ministry here.  I thought that you might enjoy it.
Frontpage Jerusalem Radio
Word From Zion, December 17, 2012
ICEJ Executive Director, Dr. Juergen Buehler, shares on his experience of celebrating Christmas in the Holy Land, while outlining some of the wonderful promises fulfilled in Christ’s birth.
However you are led to spend the 24th and 25th, I pray that it will be blessed and full of worship and the joy of The Lord.  I pray that HE will be glorified and find HIS rest in each of your hearts and lives.  I count you each a gift in my life.  I am thankful for you.  Many of you I have known since the days that I first met HIM and others are new friends, many of whom I have never met.  HE has brought us together and knit us together into HIS body, and I find that I LOVE YOU IN HIM!  “Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”! I bless you sisters and brothers out of Zion.  May Yeshua h’Meshiach, The Lord Jesus Christ alone be glorified!        Lovingly, your sis
ani b’derek
Published in: on December 23, 2012 at 6:35 am  Comments (9)  
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Inside Israel – Rejoice In His Light

Hello and welcome to a look inside Israel through the eyes and heart of a Jewish believer, our sis, “J,” of Jerusalem. Today she gives us an important look at Christmas from a perspective that we may not have considered before.  God bless you and yours as you celebrate and worship Jesus. Now here’s “J” . . .

“He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” Luke 1:33
“וימלך על בית יעקב לעולם ואין קץ למלכותו”    (this is how this scripture appears in the Hebrew Bible)
 
“Christ is The Lord, O praise His Name for ever, His power and His glory, ever more proclaim…. Fall on your knees”  from song ‘O Holy Night’
Last night at our kehila (fellowship) we lit the 5th Hanukkah candle and read John 10:22 “Now it was the Feast of Dedication (Hanukkah) in Jerusalem, and it was winter.  And Jesus walked in the temple, in Solomon’s porch.  Then the Jews surrounded Him and said to Him ‘How long do you keep us in doubt?  If you are the Christ, tell us plainly’…”  They had just been arguing about whether HE, The Only Son of God, had a demon or was mad. The Hebrew word ‘Hanukkah’ means ‘dedication’ in English, and we know that Yeshua celebrated Hanukkah …indeed…He Himself, The Light, walked in the temple during Hanukkah and was not recognized…but what symbolism!  I came home wondering exactly how many years Hanukkah had been celebrated before Yeshua was born and opened my computer to search for the information.  Checking my email before the search I found this amazing gift of a note from a dear brother.  I am taking the liberty of sharing it before asking (thank you, Mike, in advance!)
Been thinking about Hanukkah and Christmas coinciding. A true season of light. In December 165 BC (*note by me…this was first celebrated on the 25th of the Hebrew month of Kislev according to Jewish history) the Jewish people threw off the yoke of oppression and defeated a vastly superior force. The Temple was cleansed and G-D showed His sovereign hand by causing the oil to burn for eight days. A people who had been oppressed were not forgotten.
Then 161 years later a young Jewish girl would give birth in Bethlehem. Taking the child to the Temple for dedication a priest took the baby and said “now my life can come to an end, for I have seen your salvation, a light to the gentiles and a glory to the people of Israel” . Looking at the mother he would say ” this child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel and a sword will pierce your own soul too”. This child would become one of the most talked about Rabbi’s in history. Now that’s a lot of light.
He who has ears let him hear. Hope you are having a great Hanukkah and have a very Merry Christmas.
I thanked The Lord for this email arriving at this particular moment!  It was a small but significant ‘sign’ to me that The Lord was hearing me crying out for a personal spiritual need (that has kept me from writing until now) that He has now, in His perfect faithfulness, met!  And I also had my information: Hanukkah had been around for 161 years before Yeshua first entered the temple during this particular holiday, and some 30 years later purged the temple, turning over the tables of the money changers and scattering the merchants…His Purity not being able to stand any longer the defilement of God’s own house of prayer…Emanuel…God with us…had entered His temple, and yet the people of God debated and disagreed over whether HE was Lord, or was mad or had a demon…the religious leaders adding ‘He blasphemies!’.  But Yeshua knew His own, and still does, as He said; “My sheep hear my voice…” in the same portion of John 10
You see, I remain, year after year, both perplexed and in awe as I look around me in this very same Jerusalem…and I want to report what I see faithfully here.  Today is the day celebrated around the world as Christmas.  Last night, Christmas eve, torrential rains began pouring down (they are still with us, thank You Lord! And are forecast to continue until tonight…AND it is snowing on Mt. Hermon) but that did not stop the thousands upon thousands of Jewish people gathering in the Old City to ‘watch’ Christmas eve services.  They gathered by droves, their curiosity pushing them from place to place.  Granted, some were young drunks, and others scoffers, but many many MANY were ‘curious’.  While ‘we’ the believers sit in our camps of ‘Christmas’ vs. ‘no Christmas’, the hungry gathered.  I listened to the English radio news in the morning yesterday and there was a Bishop from Ireland being interviewed…amazing interview for all Jews to hear on our local news as he shared about what it is like to be a priest at Notre Dame (catholic) during ‘Christmas in Jerusalem’, and as he gave the schedule for their Christmas meetings, he said that more then 50% of those attending the midnight services were Jewish, seeking to understand “the wonder of it all”.
After our meeting last night I wished people a blessed Christmas if they celebrated it.  Only one said that she did, and takes the day aside to meditate on the wonder of His coming.  She was on her way to one of these services in the old city.  She said that last year she was asked by the leadership to stand outside of the church with others and sing Christmas carols and at first she was taken aback and a bit scared of repercussions.  But, instead was blessed beyond belief as groups of Jewish people stopped to listen intently to the words, receive literature or come in for the message.  How can I describe it…it is almost a ‘frenzy’ of searching on this night!
Since my husband was not wishing to go out, I returned home after our meeting and was surprised by our younger daughter bringing her boyfriend over for a visit.  I was surprised because the relationship has been a matter of much prayer for me.  He is the oldest of about 10 children in an ultra religious family.  Although he had turned away from religion, he has begun turning back.  Our younger daughter had only recently told him of my faith, fearing his rejection.  He listened but it was not of obvious interest to him….just a bit curious.  However last night at about 9pm they appeared DRENCHED to the knees as the rain was pouring down.  He sat down and asked my husband casually ‘So. Are you going to the Old City tonight?’  I giggled. He so RARELY talked to us.  His English is not strong.  Our daughter offered him a cinnamon bun, which I had made for my husband, and he (setting aside the fact that our home is not strictly kosher) devoured it.  “Delicious!” he said smiling.
What is my point?  Yeshua IS The Light.  He IS The Light of the temple…the true temple…His body…He came to Light EVERY man…  He comes to be Light in darkness…to set the captives free and HE IS HOLY.  I do SO understand the dilemma, particularly facing people in the West and shared by Jewish believers (of which I am one). To an extent, although I was QUITE sheltered by both my background and the rather remote areas that I lived in, I experienced it too when I lived in the ‘old country’.  First of all, I didn’t want ANYTHING that ‘wasn’t Him’ (and I still don’t!): the battle (very real and legitimate) against the pagan and extremely commercial practices of a holiday that was not found in scripture…(although…neither is Hanukkah.)  WHAT IN THE WORLD DO WE DO WITH THIS HOLIDAY THAT HAS BECOME SO WORLDLY AND IS EVEN PAGAN IN SOME ROOTS AND PRACTICES?  What in the world are we to do when people use the birth of Messiah, Holy, Savior, into the world to excuse drunken, mocking parties, santa clauses, debt inducing spending and the like?  Well…in MY very irrelevant opinion, it is a very personal decision in these days…yet NOT ‘each of us doing what he thinks right in his own eyes’, but each of us knowing from The Lord how we are to walk toward it, like we do about all of our activities.  Currently, our decision to keep our version of the celebration is very unpopular with many true believers, but I believe He is both pleased and glorified.  I only pray NOT to be like the Jews in the temple discussing ‘Is This Man Messiah… or a demon…or mad’!
And in the midst…my people search, and those who celebrate Christmas sing the old song as a prayer for my people:  “O come o come Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel, who mourns in lonely exile here, until The Son of God appears…rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel…shall come to thee o Israel”
May the seeds that have been planted here in Jerusalem and around the world grow to be good fruit, producing `100 fold for the glory of Messiah, Yeshua h’Meshiach…THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD.  – Time for me to go and light Hanukkah candles J
God BLESS you all.  Your sis in Jerusalem
ani b’derek
Published in: on December 26, 2011 at 3:52 pm  Comments (6)  
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Merry Christmas

“And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.”  Matthew 1:21

May our most
Excellent Jesus
Really
Rock
Your Christmas

Coming
Here
Right
Into our
Seasonal situations
That all
Men might
Accept Him and be
Saved.

 

A very Merry Christmas to you all!

Published in: on December 25, 2011 at 6:14 am  Comments (19)  
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A Mighty Thing

“And this will be the sign to you; you will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”  Luke 2:12

Today and tomorrow I’ll just be posting a simple poem. Wishing you and yours a beautiful time worshiping Jesus this Christmas! And here’s a simple poem . . .

A Mighty Thing

Holy and so
fully divine
the One adored
for now and all time

highly exalted
lowly set down
all heaven’s angels
gathered around

to see Him, to touch Him
to wonder and sing
God as a baby
what a mighty thing.

Published in: on December 24, 2011 at 10:13 am  Comments (14)  
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Inside Israel – Lights!

Hi and welcome to a look inside Israel.  “J” of Jerusalem shares with us in that wonderful way of hers what it’s like living in the Holy Land of His birth at this time of year.  God bless you as you read and pray for  Israel and “J”.  Now here’s “J” . . .

LIGHT!  “I AM THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD!” Yeshua stated.  What a humbling, fearsome, liberating declaration made by our Messiah…and how TRUE, as each of us likely remember the moment that His Light shown into our hearts and revealed His Lordship…His Kingdom!
 
This year Christmas and Chanukah fall at the same time: Chanukah beginning at sundown on the 20th of Dec and ending at sundown on the 28th.  Every year I am taken afresh by the symbolism of the miracle of the multiplication of the ‘Light’…and of the holy ‘Oil’ (anointing…Holy Spirit) and the entering into the world of The Light…Who came first to His own, and His own received Him not.  And yet even Chanukah speaks of ‘second chances’ and the ‘redemptive power of God’… as the temple was defiled, the eternal flame gone out, and the last keg of oil found…enough for only one night while 8 days were needed to prepare the oil.  So…just as GOD PROVIDED THE LAMB for Avraham so that he did not have to sacrifice Isaac, so God HIMSELF provided the oil…increasing it and making it sufficient to fulfill the commandment!  Where we come up short…and yet have a longing in our heart to serve Him, HE MAKES THE PROVISION!  HALLELUYAH!  LIGHT…TRUTH…THE LAMB!
 
Over the years I have made 17 inadequate attempts through these letters, to describe this season as we experience it here.  I guess I DO feel that it is unique.  It is not like it is in an Muslim country because, although the Christians are a small minority there and also are ‘celebrating in secret’, Muslims are not celebrating The Light at the same time…not even a ‘shadow’ or ‘form’ of The Light.  It is not like celebrating in a Buddhist or Hindu country, for there also they are not taking part in a parallel celebration.  There is a ‘dynamic’ that takes place here that I am at a loss to put adequate words to.
So…allow me to describe some snatches or snapshots from my view.
 
One VERY interesting phenomena (and wonderful opportunity) is that most sabras (native born Israelis) are FASCINATED by the idea of ‘Christmas’ and are so very curious about it that there are (I kid you NOT!) ‘Christmas eve tours’!  Now there is a very askew picture of ‘who a Christian is’ here.  First off (by general Jewish understanding): A Christian is a gentile…NEVER a Jew.  (that gets me into trouble on step one)  Secondly, the most visible ‘Christians’ here are Catholics, Russian orthodox, Greek Orthodox, Coptic and similar groups, mostly Arabs.  Then there are a great number of European ‘Christians’ working with ‘human rights organizations’ with Palestinians.  This is the ‘general’ picture that Israelis have of Christians.  Christmas is for these ‘other’ people.  It is ‘colored strings of lights’ and ‘Christmas trees’ and santa clause…and since we Jews ‘can’t’ have this…every one wants to ‘see it’ at least once…thus the Christmas eve ‘tours’.  Thousands of Israelis hop from one historical church service to another…the Church of the Holy Sepulcher…the Church of the Enunciation… Bethlehem (Beit Lechem).  Israeli believers have grasped this opportunity to share the gospel!  A number of fellowships have opened their doors on Christmas eve to preach a powerful and anointed salvation message.  Many years ago (I wrote about this at the time) my husband and I attended one of these services in the Old City and I, for one, was overwhelmed to see hundreds of TOURISTS entering during the service as if it were a museum; but many of them would then sit down to listen (and receive the scriptures in Hebrew).  I can NOT describe the ‘energy’ in the sanctuary…it was an almost tangible spiritual battle zone!  At one point, 3 young haradi (ultra orthodox) men (boys really) entered, and, obviously on a ‘dare’, one ran up front.  The power of The Lord so impacted him that he stumbled ALMOST to his knees, and with a look of fear – even terror – on his face, turned and ran out.  My pastor was speaking that night.  Much prayer went up for those young men and I trust that they will come to know Him.  These encounters are like nothing I was ever prepared for in my previous life where it seemed almost easy to speak to people face to face and share Him Who loves them and have their hearts open. 
 
It is with this mixture of dynamics that we enter this holiday season…the holidays of LIGHT…and we pray for LIGHT to be shed abroad and embraced and recognized and received.  This year both on Christmas eve and on Christmas night there will be two professional performances of Handel’s Messiah IN HEBREW!  Please pray for these to be presented with the power and anointing of His Spirit.  This piece, Handel’s Messiah, is very popular among Israelis.  In Hebrew they will understand well the message.  May it bare much fruit.  I remember that in Romans I believe, Paul said that he had become ‘all things to all men that by all means ‘he’ might win some’.  Amen!  Whatever Your way to bare fruit, Lord, may we be ready to submit to it!
 
And  meanwhile…we clean our 9 branched Chanukah’s, preparing them for the candles (or oil).  They will be lit each night, beginning with one candle on the first night and ending with 8 on the last night.  The ninth candle, the ‘shamas’ or ‘servant’, is lit every night and is used to light the other candles, just as He…who is greatest and yet Servant of all, lights each one of us with The miracle Light of Life. 
 
With MUCH more to share, I must close for bed.  Perhaps this will be the ‘first installment’ of the Celebration of Light?  May each one of you be blessed and may we be a blessing.  May this season be placed back into the Hands of The One meant to be remembered and may He use us to reflect Him to a world so perplexed and so needy.  God bless you, lovingly your sis.
ani b’derek

 

 

Published in: on December 18, 2011 at 8:52 am  Comments (5)  
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