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Reaching Out in Love to Widows and Orphans

Teaching Letter

Knowing and Loving God

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 “…The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one. And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment”(Mark 12:29–30, quoted from Deut. 6:4, 5). As Christians, this ultimate command of Yeshua (Jesus) should be our goal. We should love God with our whole being. As I think about loving someone, it is clear to me that you do not love someone you don’t know. You may admire them for their fame or appearance. You may read about them and find much to be lauded. But, until you know them, you will not really love them. The more we know the Lord, the more we should love Him.

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Israel—God’s Modern-Day Miracle

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The very existence of the small democratic Jewish nation of Israel thriving amidst a sea of Islamic dictatorships is truly a modern-day miracle. Emerging from the ashes of the Shoah(the Holocaust), this ragtag group of people was to ascend to the heights in every area expertise and professionalism ranging from entertainment to cosmetology to science.

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God’s Water Ways

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I’m quite sure everyone, in some way, has been moved by water: by the mighty roar of a crashing waterfall, the vast expansiveness of the sea and its unending curling waves pounding the shore, the rush of a river over and around unmovable rocks in its winding path, or the stillness of a pastoral pool. If rocks can cry out (Luke 19:40) and trees can clap their hands (Isa. 55:12), then water can surely speak too. It doesn’t take much reflection time to hear their lessons on life. They are so simple and so apparent that even an unchurched unbeliever can hear or observe them.

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A History of Hurt

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The front desk clerk at my hotel was helping me print out a draft of the presentation I was about to give on the subject of Christian anti-Semitism. Noticing the subject matter, he wondered aloud, “Christian anti-Semitism? Now, that doesn’t make any sense.” I thought he nailed it. The topic should strike us as the worst of an oxymoron, for we should expect anything Christian to be for the Jews, not against them.

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Encountering the Real Jesus

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All over the world, people have heard of Jesus. He has more than a billion followers today. Even if you don’t believe in Jesus, you must recognize that Jesus is one of the most well-known personalities in history. I recently picked up a book by Jewish author Michael Shapiro entitled The Jewish 100, a Ranking of the Most Influential Jews of All Time.  Predictably, Moses claims the number one slot, but to my surprise, the Jewish author chose Jesus of Nazareth for the number two slot. On another occasion, an Israeli mayor had invited a BFP leadership group to his home for dinner, and he brought up the subject of Jesus, saying he was fascinated by a man who had such influence.

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Guard Your Tongue

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“Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words will never hurt you.” Have you ever heard this seemingly innocent childhood taunt? Perhaps you’ve even used it yourself in response to some unkind phrase or words. Most of us, at some point in our lives, have both said something bad about another person and have had another person say something bad about us. We tend to think that what we said really didn’t hurt the other person, but we also tend to long remember the hurt that another person’s words have caused us. It seems a general truth that we judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their actions.

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Hearing and Speaking the Words of God

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It is difficult to deny that we are living in a remarkable time in history, one during which God is fulfilling ancient prophecies at a staggering rate. Since the reestablishment of the state of Israel in 1948, we have seen many of God’s promises to His people fulfilled, displaying His faithfulness but also legitimizing the concept of the prophetic for many in the Church who had previously doubted its viability in our modern world. Today, there is an emphasis, not just on the fulfillment of biblical prophecy, but on individual prophetic gifts as well; we have witnessed the advent of thousands, perhaps millions, of Web sites dedicated solely to the subject of prophecy.

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The Shepherd and His Sheep

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The Bible is full of rich imagery to help its readers better understand deep spiritual truths. One of the oft repeated images is that of a shepherd with his sheep. The prophets spoke of good shepherds and corrupt shepherds. God is referred to as our Shepherd. One of the most beloved of all Psalms, by both Christians and Jews, is Psalm 23. I memorized it as a child, as I am sure many of you did. It communicates the great care that the Lord has for His people. Yeshua (Jesus) referred to Himself as the “good shepherd.” Lately, I have been reflecting on the characteristics of a shepherd. What can we learn from this occupation and the way it is spoken of in the Scripture?

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Dressed for Protection

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From the highest heavens to the deepest ocean, from the smallest insect to the leviathan, our Heavenly Father has often used the world around us to help us know Him better. He is a God whose eyes are continually on His creation, who sees into our hearts, who looks to and fro across the earth…a God to whom vision is important. Since we are created in His image, we are beings who not only rely on our sense of sight, but learn best by seeing. You might say we serve the God of visual aids. His Word is filled with tangible examples of spiritual concepts designed to help us better understand how we should behave or to bring clarity to complicated spiritual concepts. We are told of the advantages of being like a green olive tree in the house of the Lord (Ps. 52:8) or receiving blessing like a tree planted by streams of water (Ps. 1:3).  As His covenant relationship with His people grew and strengthened, He often instructed them by creating other kinds of visual aids that would become a part of daily life and serve as constant reminders of His presence, His love, and His instructions for living.

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The Kingdom of God

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Today, Christian congregations sing songs about “preparing the way.” But are we clear about what we are preparing the way for and how we are to do it? John the Baptist, who appears in the New Testament to prepare the way for Yeshua (Jesus), is a fitting place to start in answering those questions. John’s message, as well as Yeshua’s, was “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 3:2, 4:17). The kingdom of heaven was what they were preparing the people for. What exactly is the kingdom of heaven? If John prepared for it and Yeshua established it, what are we preparing for?

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