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A Year of Crisis

Teaching Letter

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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James: The Guidebook to Holy Living

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Have you ever struggled with the desire to make yourself a better, more successful person? Or perhaps with a difficult relationship? Have you wondered how to cope with a challenging situation such as the loss of your job or stress in the workplace? Or asked yourself who you really are and what your purpose reallyis in life? Well, if you have, you are not alone. These are the four main categories that the current spate of self-help books deal with, and it seems people all over the globe are seeking the same answers. The self-help craze has become big business, with this genre selling somewhere between US $8 and $10 billion per year in America alone, over US $1 billion of that being specifically what is called “Christian self-help.”

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Preparing to Meet with the Lord

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Once a year the staff of Bridges for Peace in Israel goes away for a three-day prayer retreat. It is a special time of meeting with God—a moed (appointment, set-apart time) when we seek the Lord for His direction for the future. In the month before the retreat, we concentrate on preparing ourselves spiritually for this special time and encourage each person to search their heart. In our devotional times, we concentrate on repentance and seeking God. The Friday before we leave for the retreat, the entire management team spends several hours praying for the Lord’s direction and blessing for the staff. This time of preparation is a vital part of the retreat, enabling our team to come before the Lord with a clean heart.

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A Fresh Look At The Priestly Blessing

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 “Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, ‘This is the way you shall bless the children of Israel. Say to them: “The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace”’” (Num. 6:23–26).

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Israel Through Four Lenses

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In Romans 9–11, Paul, Jewish apostle to the Gentiles, treats his mostly non-Jewish audience to the most fully developed theological passage in all of Scripture. And what is he talking about? Israel and the Jewish people, of course! Perhaps there is some importance the Gentile reader of today should ascribe to so weighty a work. Yet, it persists that this very passage is one of the most ignored and misunderstood parts of the Bible. Perhaps this is because there is a mystery going on—the mystery of amazing Israel.

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The Fear of the Lord

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“Oh, fear the LORD, you His saints! There is no want to those who fear Him. The young lions lack and suffer hunger; but those who seek the LORD shall not lack any good thing.” Psalm 34:9–10

The Fear of the Lord is a complex concept that occupies a unique prevalence in both the Old and New Testaments. Christian commentators and Jewish sages have spoken of this idea perhaps more than any other, clearly identifying it as a fundamental component of a true relationship with the Almighty One. Charles Spurgeon spoke of it as the centrality of the Christian experience. The Talmud (rabbinic commentary on Jewish tradition and the Hebrew scriptures) says, “a man who possesses learning without Fear of the lord is like the man who has been entrusted with the keys of an inner court but not with the keys of the outer court; how is he to enter?” If we are to love the Lord as He deserves to be loved and sanctify His name through our lives, a careful look at what the Bible and the sages say about the Fear of the Lord is certainly in order.

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The Clothing of the Righteous

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In our present-day world, clothing pretty much defines us. It certainly did in the Elizabethan Era in England. Laws governed what kind of fabric and what colour a person could wear. A person’s dress immediately identified their status in society, who was royalty and nobility and who was not, and the consequences were severe if caught wearing something inappropriate.

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The Search For Peace

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I have never met an Israeli who didn’t desire peace. Whether on the right or the left (politically), all have a deep desire for peace. While they may not agree on how to get there, I am convinced that a vast majority of Israelis would willingly lay down arms, if they felt that genuine peace was a reality. I have lived in Israel for nearly 20 years and have never experienced real peace here. There have been times of relative quiet, but never a cessation of violence.

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The Days of Noah

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Have you ever considered that the violence, immorality, and uncertainty that surround us today are really nothing new? They have been the unfortunate companions of humanity throughout history. The Bible tells the recurring story of God’s judgment on such behaviour as mankind repeatedly slipped into depravity. There are, however, certain generations that have the dubious distinction of being singled out by the writers of Scripture as the worst of the worst. Noah’s was such a generation.

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