It's no secret that the Jewish people have preserved traditions going back thousands of years. But as a relatively new country celebrating just 71 years of independence, 71 years since the restoration of Jewish sovereignty to the land that God gave to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their descendants, it's incredible to be part of the unfolding traditions of the state of Israel as we observe our independence each year.
In seven short decades, Israel has thrived and prospered as God promised. Incredibly, Israel has created many new traditions that are as in stone as the ancient ones we celebrate as well. There are several pillars to Independence Day festivities each year including: back-to-back observance of Memorial Day immediately prior to Independence Day, the international Bible competition, local and national ceremonies, Israelis lighting up the barbecue and having festive meals together often in the same spot in a national park where entire extended families gather, and more.
One of the most incredible parts of these is the state celebration that is broadcast live on national TV. It is rehearsed for weeks and full of protocol that one would ascribe to a country many times older. The prime minister and many other leaders attend. Tickets are hard to come by. Like many such ceremonies, there's music, and it ends with fireworks. But the central pillar of the national ceremony is the lighting of 12 torches representing the 12 tribes of Israel. Lighting the torch is considered one of Israel's highest civilian honors.
This year, some of those who lit a torch included the team behind sending Israel's first spacecraft to the moon, the mothers of three boys kidnapped and murdered by Palestinian Arab terrorists in 2014, the leader of the Pittsburgh Jewish community that suffered an anti-Semitic massacre several months ago, a famous movie director who donated his son's organs after a horrible traffic accident and more. But the one who captured the heart of the nation was 92-year old great-great grandmother, Marie Nachmias, who went up on stage to light her torch—and prayed.
She began her words with the formula by which all torch lighters do, not by their title or what they've accomplished, but by their lineage, the way Jews do. "I am Marie Nachmias, the daughter of Shalom and Chana Sabach, of blessed memory."
Then the host interrupted the scripted remarks and interacted with her, live on national TV. Using the affectionate word that's a sign of respect for older women of her Tunisian origin, he said "Mamo, bless us, bless Israel."
And bless us is what she did. Marie raised her hands and eyes to heaven, and prayed from the heart, the heart of a woman whose life was never easy but always had something to give to others. While it's not common for Jews of North African decent, at 17, Marie fled Nazis hunting Jews in the streets during the German occupation of Tunisia.
As a young woman, she struggled through the early years of the state along with hundreds of thousands of others who sought refuge as Israel's population doubled in a decade. She's been privileged to live to see Israel prosper and exceed nine million residents.
"I bless the state of Israel, with all my heart, may God hear me ... may Israel continue rising and continue growing. And may no more soldiers fall in battle, oh please! With all my heart, the Jews, Arabs, Christians and Druze, so we will all be one nation, all ... created by God, may He give us peace, and next year—another 10 million Israelis!"
Then, as the host prompted her to the formal closing line that everyone says, she got flustered. Right there on national TV. It couldn't have been more real—or precious.
"And to the glory ... I am sorry, and I am nervous ... to the glory of the state of Israel!"
Interrupting her, the crowd, including the prime minister, rose and gave her a standing ovation. The spontaneous cheering increased when she blessed all of Israel, not just Jews but our Arab, Druze and Christian citizens as well. The prayer of an elderly Jewish great, great-grandmother inspired moment of national unity by breaking through traditional divisions in Israeli society.
But this was not scripted. It was genuine and embodied her life and why she was honored to light the torch to begin with.
Among the challenges she's seen included raising eight children, two of whom have died. In 1973, her son was wounded during the Yom Kippur War, which she attributes to her becoming a foster mother to dozens. "My son was in a combat unit and was wounded when he tried to rescue his commander. He was hospitalized for a long time. I took an oath and prayed that he get well, together with all the other soldiers. I vowed that if God gives me my son back, I'd be willing to do any mitzvah (commandment) or mission that is given to me," according to Ynet.
God heard her prayer, and her son recovered. He became a municipal social worker in their Galilee town. One day, he called her and said he had a little girl who needed a home. That's how it started.
The children she fostered were Jewish and Arab, with every kind of physical limitation and challenge. Eventually, she would foster children from around the country, and even from outside Israel's borders.
"They knew everywhere that she was willing to take in and raise any child. Her message was that every person was made in the image [of God], no matter their origin," her daughter Ricky told Ynet.
The committee that chose the torch-lighters singled her out as "a symbol of the immigrants who established Israeli society on a foundation of mutual solidarity and help to the needy, and of the thousands of foster families in Israel who opened their hearts to help children in crisis."
At the moment, "Mamo" was too excited to talk, her sincere prayer and the authenticity of the moment united Israelis across the nation. If it had been scripted, it couldn't have been better.
After a week with more than 1 million Israelis suffering nearly 700 rockets being fired at their communities from terrorists in Gaza, and the day before mourning nearly 28,000 Israelis whose lives were taken defending the state or in acts of terror, we all really needed a heavy dose of "Mamo" to bring us together with joy.
May God answer her prayers and bless us.
Jonathan Feldstein was born and educated in the U.S. and immigrated to Israel in 2004. He is married and the father of six. He is president of RunforZion.com. Throughout his life and career, he has been blessed by the calling to fellowship with Christian supporters of Israel and shares experiences of living as an Orthodox Jew in Israel. He writes a regular column for Standing With Israel at charismanews.com and other prominent web sites. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The church as we perceive it in the West is about to die. This is not something to rejoice over. Even though it may be far from the church that Jesus will build, it has accomplished much and will die in honor. It is a parallel of the life of Rachel, Jacob's wife, who died when Benjamin was born. Benjamin was the last son born to Israel and represents the last sons of God to be born on the earth. Benjamin means "the son of the right hand," and the right hand of God is called "the right hand of power." Like Rachel, the church will give birth to the "son of His right hand," but it will take her life. So this means she will have been a mother to the last-day ministry, and we honor our fathers and mothers.
The Reformation helped the church dig its way out of a deep darkness, but even as far as Christianity has advanced over the last 500 years, we have much further to go. This does not mean it will take another 500 years. As we are told in 2 Peter 3:8, "But, beloved, do not be ignorant of this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day." This means He could do in one day what we think will take a thousand years.
It probably will not happen that fast, but everything is speeding up. However, what will happen will not happen through the continued reformation of the present model of the church. There is a new breed of ministry about to be released. It will be a people who walk in radical, revolutionary faith and power. This is such a new wine that the old model cannot contain it. For this reason we should not despair when the old model dies, but rightfully honor the Rachel that carried and given birth to the new breed.
Likewise, a new breed of radical, revolutionary patriot will arise in America, and not just America—in nations around the world. God established the nations and gave them boundaries. He said anyone who moved the ancient boundaries would be cursed. That's because He wants the nations preserved. Again, God's unity is a unity of diversity, not a unity of conformity that earthly men are trying to impose on the world. God's unity will prevail, and patriotism is going to win around the world. In this way the heritage and inheritances will be preserved, national and cultural identities will be preserved and the great unity of diversity will be possible.
Once we see our purpose, we can see how the church in America has deviated from its calling and how the same thing has happened in our civil government. "We the people" are the ones who are primarily responsible for this because here, the people are the sovereign. The government of the republic is designed to be subject to us. The primary blame for having our authority usurped lies ultimately with us for allowing it to happen. The people will also be the ones who wake up and recover what has been lost.
This is a prophecy of what is coming, but it is also a forensic study of what went wrong so we can correct it and don't keep making the same mistakes. If we do not understand this, we will fall again, because what caused the fall has not been corrected. Just as Spurgeon once said that he could find 10 men who would die for the Bible for every one who would read it, we too can find many who would die for the Constitution. Far more may have died for it than have read it.
As I shared before, our ministry lawyer took constitutional law in law school, and the class never once referred to the Constitution. The entire course was spent studying Supreme Court decisions, obviously under the delusion that the Supreme Court was the supreme law of the land and that anything it would do must be constitutional. Those who claim to be "constitutional lawyers" can be the most ignorant of what is actually in the Constitution. When a politician today says something is constitutional, you can almost be sure that it is not. When they claim something is not constitutional, you can almost be sure it is.
That is how twisted things have become and why the Lord's first warning about these times was, "Do not be deceived." Deception is far more common than truth today. This is why things reported in the media are now more likely to be false or at least distorted. Why is this? You can also now count on the same from most of the pulpits in the American church. The message of the typical American church today would be unrecognizable to the apostles of the first century.
The disconnect from truth has come the same way in the media that it has in the church. Of course, this is not true in every church or the entire media. It's easy to see in the media how there is now a tendency to report what they want to be true rather than what is true. Is that not how we have changed the gospel, the church and even our concept of God into what we want them to be rather than how they are?
One of the basic characteristics of true humility is being teachable and responsive enough to change or to expand our concepts and beliefs. This too is repentance, and it is coming.
Rick Joyneris the founder and executive director of MorningStar Ministries and Heritage International Ministries and is the senior pastor of MorningStar Fellowship Church. He is the author of more than 40 books, including The Final Quest, A Prophetic History and Church History. He is also the president of The OAK Initiative, an interdenominational movement that is mobilizing thousands of Christians to be engaged in the great issues of our times, being the salt and light that they are called to be.
Just a few weeks ago, Nancy Pelosi, D-California, introduced H.R. 5, the so-called Equality Act. This bill's biological denialism would add "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" (SOGI) as protected classes under the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964.
In so doing, Speaker Pelosi and the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives would establish radical, sexual ideology and practices above religious liberties and First Amendment rights.
This unprecedented law would sanction government discrimination against traditional values and doctrines of conservative religious faiths and the deeply held religious principles of private business employers and their employees.
This week, the Democratic-controlled House is scheduled to vote on H.R.5. The intended consequences of this bad law will restrict religious freedoms, chill religious expression and ultimately criminalize sincerely held Judeo-Christian views and values.
According to the American Family Association, by this so-called "Equality Act," business owners, employees and customers alike will be subject to a radical social experiment and LGBTQ appeasement:
Female business owners, customers and employees would then be forced to share their privacy in restrooms and dressing rooms with men who claim to be women.
Health care providers and professionals would be forced to perform gender transition procedures (sex changes) and provide medical services (hormone therapy) that would violate their moral and religious convictions.
Amusement parks, recreation centers, skating rinks and daycare centers and so on will be forced to employ people whose values on sexuality deviates from those of the employer.
Adoption and foster care agencies will be forced to place children into same-sex households and into homes of individuals suffering from gender confusion or biological denialism.
College and professional sports stadiums would be required to open its restrooms to either sex.
The Democratic Party, in 2012, rejected the mention of God in their party's platform. Then, when it was reviewed in the convention by a voice vote and re-established by manipulation of the convention chairman, Los Angeles Mayor Anthony Villariagosa, loud "boos" exploded across the arena.
Now, H.R.5 seems to show that Democrats are prepared to continue to "boo God" and discriminate against people of faith by forcing them into subjugation to radical sexual deviancy. The Party's platform states, "We support a progressive vision of religious freedom that respects pluralism and rejects the misuse of religion to discriminate."
Again, the American Family Association has documented the "progressive vision" of religious liberty for Democrats when it reminded conservative people of faith what Chai Feldblum, the former commissioner of Obama administration's Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, clearly said:
"I'm having a hard time coming up with any case in which religious liberty should win ... Sexual liberty should win in most cases. There can be a conflict between religious liberty and sexual liberty, but in almost all cases the sexual liberty should win because that's the only way that the dignity of gay people can be affirmed in any realistic manner."
Ordained to the ministry in 1969, Gary Curtis is a graduate of LIFE Bible College at Los Angeles (soon to become Life Pacific University at San Dimas, California). He has taken graduate courses at Trinity College in Deerfield, Illinois and Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, California. Gary served as part of the pastoral staff of The Church on The Way, the First Foursquare Church of Van Nuys, California, for 27 years (1988-2015), the last 13 years as the vice president of Life on The Way Communications Inc., the church's not-for-profit media outreach. Now retired, Gary and his wife have been married for 50 years and live in Southern California. They have two married daughters and five grandchildren.
Each and every one of us has a part to play in God's orchestra of prayer. What is your special sound? What instrument do you play? The Holy Spirit directs the movements of this divine symphony according to the score of God's Word.
I have identified 12 distinct "sounds" that come forth in the orchestra of prayer. How many of these sounds are part of your prayer arsenal?
Prayers of thanksgiving are like the first movement in a symphony. They open the way to a concert of worship and intercession. The psalmist declares, "Enter into His gates with thanksgiving" (Ps. 100:4), and that is what we do. That is what happened for the grateful leper in Luke 17:11-19.
According to Old Testament law, lepers were supposed to declare, "Unclean! Unclean!" wherever they went (see Lev. 13:45), and they were expected to stay away from other people. But 10 lepers approached Jesus for healing. Nine of them continued on their way, incredulous and in high spirits. But one turned around and came back to express his thanks directly to the rabbi whose power had healed him. He is the one whose thankful heart opened the way to more liberty, joy, and healing. The others were cleansed—but he was made whole. Jesus told him, "Your faith has made you well" (Luke 17:19b). Thanksgiving is an important quality of a healthy, whole person.
2. High Praise
What follows "Enter into His gates with thanksgiving"? It is "and into His courts with praise" (Ps. 100:4). Thanksgiving and praise are not quite the same thing. There is a progression. First, we thank God for His goodness: "For the Lord is good" (v. 5a). Then, we praise Him for His greatness: "Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised"(Ps. 48:1a). Always remember that praise is one of the highest weapons of spiritual warfare. Praise opens prison doors and sets the captives free.
Following thanksgiving and praise, we move into heartfelt worship. Despite the fact that I am comparing these aspects of prayer to instruments in an orchestra, in reality, worship pertains less to music—which is how we tend to think of it in a contemporary church context—and more to an inner attitude of the heart. To worship is to bow down, to kneel, to prostrate oneself.
We might begin with joyful shouting, as Psalm 95 encourages us in its first few verses, because God is so great. Our expressions of praise, which can be chosen as an act of the will, may then lead us into heartfelt worship as the ultimate expression of surrender to God. Worship, according to the first point of the Westminster Shorter Catechism, is "the chief end of man." It is foundational to our faith, with or without audible musical notes.
4. Dedication (Consecration)
Building on what has come before, we present ourselves to God. We "present [our] bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, and acceptable to God, which is [our] reasonable service of worship" (Rom. 12:1b). This enables us to enter into the high priestly prayer of Jesus in John 17 as we are set apart for the Lord and sanctified. He prayed to the Father, "For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they may also be sanctified by the truth" (John 17:19).
Our prayers of consecration are a lovely sound to the Lord's ears. He loves to hear "saving grace" prayers, too, but our dedication and consecration prayers show Him that we know we are not our own, that we were bought with a price. "I surrender all" resounds from the orchestra of prayer. Jesus Christ is our Master and Lord!
5. Prayers of Commitment
As we progress, our prayers of dedication and consecration lead to prayers of commitment, and we say, as the psalmist did, "Into Your hand I commit my spirit; You have redeemed me, O Lord God of truth" (Ps. 31:5). As we commit ourselves to Him, we rest in faith-filled trust. He will take care of us, down to the smallest detail of our lives. "Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you" (Ps. 37:5, NLT).
Committing is an act; trust is an attitude. Whenever your load becomes too heavy, you cast your burden onto the Lord (see 1 Pet, 5:7.) You commit it to Him. And then you leave it with Him; you trust Him with it. You give it and then leave it.
6. Prayers of Petition
Many times, we pray simple prayers of petition in addition to prayers of commitment. We can expect each of our prayers to be answered—if they line up with the will of God. "This is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us" (1 John 5:14, MEV). I like to say it this way: God came up with the original "World Wide Web." His "WWW" consists of His will, His Word and His ways.
When you pray, do you ask the Bible way? "Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you will receive them, and you will have them" (Mark 11:24). This does not mean that you will have everything you fervently desire, but that you will align your desires with His as you walk in increasing holiness.
7. Prayers of Intercession
At last, we reach intercessory prayer (the primary topic of my book, Strike the Mark). Did you know that all those different "sounds" of prayer must be heard first? We have to come through the gates with praise before we can enter into the Most Holy Place.
Intercession is not "devotional prayer." That form of prayer should have been covered already in your earlier time of communion with the Lord. Intercession is making prayers of petition on behalf of others, standing in the gap between man's imperfection and God's perfection. We confess the iniquity of others as if it is our own and we ask for God's mercy. (See, for example, Isa. 59:2-15.) What a high honor it is, a labor of love, to be allowed to stand in the gap on behalf of other people!
8. Prayers of Supplication
The apostle James tells us that "mercy triumphs over judgment" (James 2:13b). To pray according to mercy is always to pray according to God's heart. This is much more difficult than it sounds—even impossible. In fact, you cannot lift up a cry for mercy without receiving God's grace to do so.
"Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need" (Heb. 4:16, KJV). We cannot come boldly to the throne of grace in our own human strength. We must come with heartfelt thanksgiving, praise, and worship, surrendering our own agendas. Then we can receive His heart of mercy and pray according to His will.
9. Prayers of Command
At times, coming "boldly" entails uttering commanding words of prayer, as Joshua did when he spoke to the Lord and then released commands to the sun and the moon, so that the sun stood still for an entire day (See Josh. 10:12-15.) It takes a profound gift of faith to do something like that.
The prayer of command is declarative in nature. Even though you may not play that "instrument" regularly in the prayer orchestra, it is important to know that it is an authentic biblical option.
10. Prayers That Decree a Blessing
Much more often, we utter prayers of blessing, even decreeing specific blessings. We can bless others with the words that the Lord gave to Moses,"May the Lord bless you and keep you." Remember this key point: we are part of a speech-activated kingdom.
This is how God releases His blessings on His people: "They will put ['invoke, NKJV marginal note] My name upon the children of israel, and I will bless them" (Num. 6:27). When, fueled by the gift of faith, you decree something that is according to the will, word, and ways of God, all things are possible! (See, for example, Matt. 19:26.)
11. Prayers that Thwart the Enemy
Can we utter prayers that denounce or limit the powers of darkness? Can we bind Satan from continuing his work? Well, Jesus illustrated the believer's power to do so when He cursed a fig tree that was not bearing fruit, after which it withered and died. (See Matt. 21:18-22.) This is like a prayer of command coupled with righteousness and faith. Jesus inspected the tree and found no figs, only leaves, on it. It had given the external appearance of being fruitful, but upon closer examination, it proved to be unproductive.
This is the kind of prayer that draws a line in the sand and says, "Enough is enough. No more!"This form of prayer should be exercised with wisdom perimeters. It requires clear discernment and faith and should be employed only after confirmation from God.
12. Persistent Prayers
The final sound in the orchestra of prayer is one of persistence. The orchestra keeps on playing even if the lights go out. There is the familiar parable in the book of Luke about the persistent widow whose appeal to the judge was answered only because she would not let it go. (See Luke 18:1-8.) Earlier in Luke, Jesus told another parable about a friend whose persistent entreaties produced results. (See Luke 11:5-8.)
Keep on praying. Don't give up. The more you pray, the more God will keep on drawing you into His heart. You and I have been called to be enforcers of the kingdom of light over the (temporary) kingdom of darkness. Giving up is not an option!
Almighty God, in Jesus' great name, I thank You that the fervent prayer of a righteous believer prevails! By the grace of God, I am adding these various sounds of prayer into my understanding. Holy Spirit, guide and direct me in choosing which instrument should be selected at the appropriate time and how to play it. I praise and thank You that You are teaching me how to release prayers that will strike the mark without fail in Jesus' great name. Amen and Amen!
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