For Zion’s Sake – January 2019

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Do you have New Year’s resolutions? I’m not big on making resolutions, as most do not last more than a couple weeks. However, I am a goal-setter, as goals seem to motivate me throughout the year to press on in following the Lord’s guidance. For me, goals may change and new ones definitely arise during the year.

I’m motivated this year to run the race to win! (1 Corinthians 9:24, Hebrews 12:1-2) Time is urgent as we await the return of our Lord, and I want to finish well.

One thing of which I am convinced: we are to be a people of prayer. The Bible exhorts us over and over to pray, and prayer takes on many forms and many different focuses. One such focus is prayer for Israel.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
“May they prosper who love you.
“May peace be within your walls,
And prosperity within your palaces.”
For the sake of my brothers and my friends,
I will now say, “May peace be within you.”
 For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
I will seek your good.

~Psalm 122:6-9

I highly encourage you to participate in ICEJ’s Isaiah 62 Prayer Initiative. On the first Wednesday of every month, believers worldwide join together in prayer to fulfill the Lord’s command to pray for Israel. Using Isaiah 62 as a template for prayer, we enter into intercessory prayer for God’s chosen land and God’s chosen people.

Why not join the global movement here: Isaiah 62 Prayer Initiative

If you are in the Phoenix area, come pray with our Isaiah 62 prayer group at 6:00pm the first Wednesday of every month (including tonight!) in Room 301 at Calvary PHX (Central campus). You will be blessed!

For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent,
And for Jerusalem’s sake I will not keep quiet,
Until her righteousness goes forth like brightness,
And her salvation like a torch that is burning.

~Isaiah 62:1

2019: A Challenge for the New Year

Happy New Year, friends! As we launch a brand new year, may we all commit anew to live with expectation of the coming of our Lord, and to live out our days in the calling God has given us.

Each of us is called to various acts of service, specific to the talents and gifts God gives us. We are all different in that regard and must be about the business in which our Father directs us.

However, in general, we are all called to common assignments as well. Here are a few examples:

  • Bless Israel (Genesis 12:3)
  • Pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6-9)
  • Comfort God’s people and speak kindly to Jerusalem (Isaiah 40:1-2)
  • Be watchmen (and women!) on the wall, praying unceasingly for Israel (Isaiah 62:1, 6-7)
  • Move the Jewish people to jealousy (because salvation has come to the Gentiles), in order to save them (Romans 11:11-14)

Granted, the Bible contains commands that are not specific to Israel’s well-being, but when it comes to the Jewish state, we are commanded to care for, stand with and bless her!

In light of that, consider Jesus’ final exhortation, following His resurrection and just before He ascended to heaven (where He is now preparing a place for us):

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. …you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.

~Matthew 28:19 and ~Acts 1:8

Now, couple them all together! What better way to bless Israel, comfort Israel and stand with Israel than to move the Jewish people to jealousy! Interestingly, the Gospel was born right there in Bethlehem, it circled the globe to the west (making disciples in all nations), and has now reached Israel once again!

Through witnesses of Jesus Christ, Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria are now hearing the Gospel afresh and anew! The Lord has an end time plan for His chosen people, and our part is to continue carrying out commands such as those above!

In 2019, let’s fall into step with our Commander in Chief, our Lord Jesus Christ, and take on the mission He has assigned. Our time is short and the mission is critical.

The work has begun, the news is encouraging, and this report will spur us into the new year:

Happy New Year!

Developing: President Trump in the Middle East, Additional Israeli Airstrikes in Syria

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President and Mrs Trump visit American troops in Iraq

In the midst of Christmas week, action continues in the Middle East. Not only did Israel launch additional airstrikes on Iranian positions in Syria, President and Mrs Trump made a surprise visit to troops in Iraq.

Overnight Israeli strikes targeted advanced GPS-guided missile shipments from Iran, as well as senior Hezbollah members en route to Iran. Known shipments of advanced weaponry have been transported to Syria from Iran via a Fars Air Qeshm Boeing 747.

Israel has vowed not to allow Iranian advanced weapons to reach the hands of Hezbollah. Thus, several precise Israeli air strikes have been launched over the past few days.

Keep your eyes on Damascus. Isaiah 17:1 prophesies her total destruction, and many Bible scholars believe that could clear the way for a northern invasion by the Gog and Magog coalition (Ezekiel 38-39). Our time is short.

Meanwhile, while Israel was taking care of business in Syria, Air Force One was delivering our First Family to Iraq. In an unannounced visit to American troops, the President and Mrs Trump spent 3 hours visiting soldiers in Iraq. They are currently headed to another undisclosed location to wish America’s best warm Christmas and New Year’s wishes.

Pray for our President as he travels, and as he attempts to lead our nation in the midst of very difficult circumstances. Pray, also, for all Senators, Congressmen, agencies, the Supreme Court and all who govern us. Our country needs prayer more than ever.

Pray, also, for wisdom for the Israeli military leadership as they deal with very real threats to Israel’s safety and sovereignty. Likewise, pray for Prime Minister Netanyahu and his cabinet as they now prepare for elections in April. May the Lord appoint those “for such a time as this.”

Blessings, my friends!

PS: We’re in the middle of a short series on the power of Jesus’ presence. If you missed this morning’s post, check it out. Then, stick with us the next couple days!

Celebrating the Birth of a Jewish Carpenter: The Father’s Masterpiece

Yesterday we discovered the purpose bestowed upon the Jewish Carpenter.  Our Savior, Jesus Christ, was born for His Father’s purpose, and became a Master Carpenter.  But, I bet Joseph himself was a very skilled, master carpenter as well!  He taught his Son the finer details of the trade, as well as the importance of excellence in even the tiniest details.  It simply makes sense that God the Father would choose the perfect earthly father to teach His Son the earthly lessons that would carry over into the very purpose the Father had for His Son!

Think about this: at Christmas time, we picture Baby Jesus in a manger.  Again, though some would argue the manger was really of stone rather than wood, let’s not get bogged down in dispute.  (We’ll get to that stone part tomorrow!)  The fact that our God in heaven came down to earth in human form as a baby, and was laid in a manger is significant.  A manger is a feeding trough.  Isn’t it interesting that the Bread of Life (John 6:35) was born in Bethlehem (“House of Bread”), in a feeding trough, perhaps made of wood?  (Who said God is not into details!?!)

Let’s go a step further in understanding the Father’s Masterpiece.   In Psalm 1, Psalm 92, Isaiah 61 and elsewhere, Scripture likens people to trees.  Wood represents our humanity.  In fact, Zechariah 3:2-4 and Amos 4:11 describe sinful man as a wooden stick snatched from fire by our God of mercy.  Just like wood, we are frail, corruptible and unable to last forever. We rot, yet the Jewish Carpenter turns rough planks into useful tools and beautiful vessels.  Perhaps He chops off unnecessary pieces, sands down the rough patches and planes us to fit His blueprint.  He is, after all, a Master Craftsman.  That’s what the Father prepared Him to be!

Interestingly, Isaiah,Jeremiah and Romans all describe the relationship between a potter and the clay.  Clay does not tell the potter how it will be molded, shaped or used!  Likewise, I don’t think this knotty plank will demand of the Carpenter how it will be used! The Father’s Masterpiece is fashioned in the hands of the One who became a Master Carpenter just like His father!

As we gaze upon the manger this Christmas season, may we be reminded that we are in the hands of the Great Carpenter…the One whose purpose is to design us to be the masterpiece God the Father intended us to be from the beginning of creation!

Come back tomorrow as we celebrate the birth of a Jewish Carpenter with a different twist!