Sep 19

Shabbat Shalom, Day 5

Shabbat Shalom my friends!  Which means: Peaceful Sabbath my friends!

Shabbat is Judaism’s day of rest and seventh day of the week, on which the Jewish people remember the Biblical creation of the heavens and the earth in six days and God resting on the seventh. Here among the Jewish Believers in Israel is where I am enjoying my peaceful Sabbath today.

This week I’ve been on a study tour throughout Israel with a small group of women. We are traveling with Lysa TerKeurst and Proverbs 31 Ministries. While seeing some amazing sights, it’s really been the study along with the learning of historical and current events, geography, and agriculture that has been life-changing. Yes, life-changing. I don’t use that term lightly.

I thought when I came here, I would be most excited to be “where Jesus walked.” To see “what Jesus saw.” To pray “where Jesus prayed.” And Oh my goodness, that really has been … well, unbelievable! It’s humbling to think that I’m looking and walking on the land where Jesus, Abraham, Moses, David and Joshua were, just to name a few. But here is the blessing for all of us. We don’t have to be here to be close to Jesus. We don’t have to see what He saw or pray where He prayed. Our prayers and faith are just as strong anywhere else in the world. After all, God knows our hearts. Acts 15:8-9 is just one passage of Scripture where this is referenced.

What I’ve been most excited about on this trip is that I’m learning more about the Bible than I ever pieced together before. The order of the Lord is astounding! It is so evident and clear that He has a plan for our world. This land and it’s geography alone confirms Scripture. The Old Testament Scriptures are so intertwined with the New Testament in ways I didn’t see before until this intense study and learning of the land and history. My heart and brain are full! And I still have the Sea of Galilee and Mt. Arabel to explore!

Today we attended a Shabbat service, which takes place each Saturday here (at Yad Hashmona) at 11:00 am Israel Time. What a wonderful time of worship among this family of Jewish Believers. It was in Hebrew with English translation. After a time of worship, prayer and specifically praying for the children, a message based on Acts 15:1-12 was given. Y’all seriously, I could write 10 pages from this, but I’ll save that sharing for another day (and it will come because I can’t keep it to myself!!!).

Here are just few pictures from the day today~

IMG_3637Worship today at Shabbat service.

IMG_3639Under these vines, we studied John 15 in the afternoon. Jesus is the True Vine.

IMG_3628Sunset over Israel. Stunning.

Something to Think About

I’ve shared with you today how I spent my Shabbat (Sabbath) today. How did you or will you spend yours this week?

Thanks for coming back to read today. We are heading to the Sea of Galilee as I type this! Have a great day!

Shabbat Shalom!

 

Melissa
Sep 18

Too Old or Too Young? Day 4

When was the last time you read Luke 1 from the Bible? I’ve always loved this story, but this week when I read it in Ein Karem, Israel was my favorite.

Ein Karem is most likely the birthplace of John the Baptist. Today it is a cute little neighborhood in southwest Jerusalem. Because it is believed that this is where John was born, it is quite a popular place!

In Luke 1 some pretty amazing things happen. A few days ago, we visited Ein Karem and read Luke 1 while sitting right outside of a place named “Mary’s Spring.” That’s Mary, as in the mother of Jesus.

First of all, we don’t know that Mary ever frequented “Mary’s Spring.” It never says in the Bible. What we do know is that a spring or well (source of water) was the most important place of any village. It was a popular social gathering place. This is where women went daily to get water. It was also a place to catch up with friends and hear what’s going on around the village. It’s very likely that both Mary and Elizabeth (see Luke 1) came to this spring on a regular basis.

Mary's Spring IsraelThis is the spring today. Supposedly it has never changed.

Across from the spring is land that is not flat, it’s more of a hill that goes down. In Biblical times it was all vegetation. Did you know that vegetable gardens need the spring water, so they are planted lower? That way the water can run down the hill or mountain and into the gardens. Vineyards, however are planted higher. Just a little random information for you incase you are planting vegetataion or a vineyard. 😉

Here are  few highlights from Luke 1. If you haven’t read this passage of Scripture in a while, check it out. You’ll get much more from it if you read it yourself than what I’m going to share here. I’m only touching on a few things.

Did you know:

  • Mary and Elizabeth were cousins (relatives).
  • John the Baptist and Jesus were not named by their by mothers. Both of them were named by the angel Gabriel, sent by God.
  • The angel, Gabriel appeared to Zechariah, Elizabeth’s husband. Zechariah doubted the news the angel brought him. “Zechariah asked the angel, ‘How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.'” (verse 18)
  • The angel, Gabriel also appeared to Mary, Jesus’ mother. Mary had questions (“I’m a virgin how can this be?” verse 34), but she did not doubt. “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” (verse 38)
  • Elizabeth, John the Baptist’s mother, was older. Well beyond child bearing years.
  • Mary, the mother of Jesus, was young … and unmarried. Considered by most to be too young. (Can you imagine the talk around the village about her?)

We have two women, opposite ends of the spectrum. Elizabeth gave birth to John the Baptist who would go and prepare the way for Jesus. Mary gave birth to Jesus, Son of God, who go and save the world.

Don’t ever say you are too old for God to use you.

Don’t ever say you are too young for God to use you.

Instead, how about let’s say,

I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.

 

Something to Think About

Do you ever find reasons that cause you to believe God can’t use you? In the name of Jesus, get those out of your head right now. You are never too old or too young (or too __________) to be used by God.

 

Melissa
Sep 16

Into the Cave, Day 3

CaveEntranceIsraelHey Blog Friends! How are you? I hope you all are doing great!

I’m here on Day 3 of the Proverbs 31 John Study in Israel and I’m SO EXCITED for what I have to share with you today!

Before we begin, I invite you to read Psalm 57. Make note of the introduction to this Psalm at the top of the passage. You can read in your Bible or click here.

When David wrote this, he was hiding in a cave from Saul.

Here’s a brief history leading up to Psalm 57:

From Bible.org: When he was a teenager, David had been anointed as king to replace the disobedient King Saul. Then he slew the giant Goliath and was thrust into instant national fame. But King Saul’s jealous rage sent David running for his life. He spent the better part of his twenties dodging Saul’s repeated attempts on his life.

1 Samuel 22:1-2 (NIV)

“David left Gath and escaped to the cave of Adullam. When his brothers and his father’s household heard about it, they went down to him there. All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him, and he became their commander. About four hundred men were with him.”

Are you following me so far? David was hiding from Saul, along with 400 other “distressed or discontented” people in the cave of Adullam. It is here that he became a leader and friend to them. It is here that they began to trust him. It is here that David began his ministry.

Today, near the border of Israel and Palestine, our group of 13, hiked up the mountain to this cave.  It’s not a marked place, not a tourist attraction like many of the other Holy Land sites.

The entrance (see picture above) was small and the cave was dark, but because our leader, Arie, had been there many times, we felt safe. (Even though there was a hyena inside. Yes you read that right. He scurried off thankfully.) Once inside, Arie reminded us of the story of David and this cave from 1 Samuel 22 and Psalm 57.

CavePsalm57We read Psalm 57 aloud by flashlight.

As we read I couldn’t help but get a little choked up thinking about David and the 400 distressed and fearful people holed up in there hoping Saul wouldn’t find them. I imagined them in this cave that I was now sitting in. I was reminded of David, with his many mess ups and mistakes in life. David, who wrote many times of his own insecurities and God’s greatness. David, a great king and leader. David, a man after God’s own heart.

Look at Psalm 57 again and notice in the first 4 verses, David is filled with pleas and cries to God. He’s reminding himself of God’s mercy, purpose, love, and faithfulness. It’s almost as though he needs reminding, possibly because he’s very afraid. Then something changes. It’s as if he takes his eyes off of his fear and circumstances and turns them towards God, the One he loves and trusts. He begins to praise Him beginning in verse 5 and continues his song through the end of the Psalm.

As we finished reading Psalm 57, our group began to sing beautiful praises to God. “Praise God from Whom all blessings flow…”

Something to Think About

In Psalm 57:1-4, it’s clear that David was distressed and in need as he cried out to the Lord. Then, he remembered. His cries for help turned to songs of praise. I love David because he is so like us and we get to see that. How many times have you cried out to God when what you really needed was to sing songs or prayers of praise?

Ok, so that’s Day 3! Thanks for joining me during my time in Israel. I hope that somehow what God is placing on my heart to write is something that He can use to stir up something good in your heart as well!

***Side Note: Arie, a Jewish Believer & our teacher and leader this week, led us up to the cave. I will tell you more about Arie in another post. For now just let me say, his teaching of the Bible is extremely thorough, weaving Israeli historical facts with Biblical facts to explain the wonders of the Bible I formerly just took for granted. I feel like I’ve missed so much when reading and studying my Bible … up til now.

Melissa