Why I’m Going To Tel Aviv

Posted by ajenkins on February 19, 2013 under Good News, Just A Thought, Sabbatical, Sermons and More | Be the First to Comment

“Why Tel Aviv?” To understand the answer to this question and the importance of this city for the Kingdom of God one must look at its past, present, and future.

Tel Aviv-Yafo is a city composed of both the ancient and the modern. Yafo (Jaffa, Joppa), the southern part of our city, is almost 4,000 years old and was, for centuries, the main port city on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Tradition tells us that one of Noah’s three sons, Yefet (Japheth), founded the city of Yafo.  Later, the famed cedars of Lebanon were shipped through the city on the way to Jerusalem in order to construct the doors of the Second Temple (Ezra 3:7). This port city was seen as such a strategic location, the gateway to Jerusalem and to the east, that it was conquered multiple times throughout history by various empires: Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Turkish, and even by Napoleon. In addition to its economic significance, Yafo frequently served as a military beachhead, the land that is captured first to take the rest of the territory.

Yafo also has a great biblical significance, as a gateway for messengers of God’s love and redemption. The Prophet Jonah was called by God to go from Yafo and bring His mercy to the Assyrian people of Nineveh (in modern Iraq). This is the example in the Bible that shows God’s love for people who are not Jewish. Similarly, in the book of Acts, Simon Peter, after raising Tabitha (Dorcas) from the dead in Yafo, sees a vision to take the Gospel to the gentiles for the first time. Almost immediately, he is led to Caesarea and preaches the good news to Cornelius and his men (Acts 9-10).

Tel Aviv, Israel’s modern and secular city, was founded in 1909 on the sand dunes north of Yafo. By the 1930’s the city had become another Mediterranean metropolis, designated “The White City” for its sandstone facades and Bauhaus architecture. In 1948, Israel declared its independence in Tel Aviv and supplied food and ammunition to Jerusalem in the War of Independence. It is currently Israel’s center for commerce and trade, high tech, and the military; but is widely known for its avid nightlife, white beaches, sports, and café culture. With an inner city population of 400,000 and a greater area population of 3.3 million, the Tel Aviv region contains more Jews per capita than any place on earth.

And yet with its biblical past and its abundance of modern life, most of Tel Aviv remains in darkness, spiritually dead. Though Jewish by blood and culture, the majority of people has little faith in God and has turned to the occult for guidance and spiritual food. In the book of Joshua, the area of Tel Aviv was allotted to the tribe of Dan.  Sadly, they later gave up their inheritance to the Philistines, moved north, and turned to idolatry. This idolatrous spirit continues to pervade the modern city with its large homosexual population and rampant materialism. While the number of Messianic Jews is increasing, only 0.2% of the Jewish population of Israel believes that Yeshua (Jesus) is the Messiah.

Our hope is in the Lord and He is preparing the harvest. Tel Aviv-Yafo is still a spiritual gateway; as God sent the Gospel from this city we pray that it will return here and form a spiritual beachhead for His Kingdom to take the rest of the country. In Psalm 87: it says, “the LORD loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob,” and Tel Aviv-Yafo is one of these gates. May the Lord open up these ancient doors and transform our city to truly become His “White City;” the gateway to Jerusalem.

“Lift up your heads, O you gates! Lift up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in.” Psalm 24:9

What Is The Gospel

Posted by ajenkins on February 24, 2011 under Devotionals, Good News, Jesus, Sermons and More, The Parish | Be the First to Comment

During Lent we will continue our study and sermons on the fundamentals of life and the Christian Faith. We will be using a small book entitled, What Is The Gospel, by Greg Gilbert.

Why will we ask and investigate such a fundamental question as this? Surely, everyone knows what the Gospel is? Why even non-Christians know what the gospel is. We use the expression, “That’s the gospel truth” all the time. Everyone knows what the gospel is.

Sadly, this is not true.

The gospel is being challenged today at almost every major point.  When it comes to God, people no longer think of Him as holy and righteous, and it has become almost axiomatic to reject the idea that He judges.  What we have instead is a sort of affable, but kind of clueless grandfather who wishes we’d do better but understands that of course nobody’s perfect.  Not only so, but people also shy away instinctively from the understanding that we are sinners who are liable to God’s judgment and condemnation.  We tend to think of ourselves as more or less good people, with a relatively minor infraction here or there.  Even many evangelicals have, deliberately or not, started to shy away from talking about sin as rebellion against God, instead saying that the human problem is really one of disintegration, meaninglessness, and broken relationships. The biggest challenge to the gospel, though, I think, is a strong tendency to make its center something other than the cross of Jesus Christ. The cross cannot be shoved over to the side or replaced with something else (like cultural transformation, or the promise of a new heavens and new earth, or social justice).  As Paul said, the gospel that “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures” is not just important.  It’s not even just very important.  It is of first importance.

Have We Lost The Cross?

As I look around at books being published by evangelicals, even books that claim to be explaining the gospel, the more I see authors getting exciting about things other than the death of Jesus on the cross in the place of his people, taking the punishment for their sin.  There are two things that are particular dangers for evangelicals in this area.  First, there’s a tendency simply to shove the cross out of the center of the gospel, to say something like, “Yes, yes, of course the cross is important.  But we need to understand that what the gospel is really about is…” It could be “God’s purpose to remake the world” or “God’s invitation to us to join him in bringing about his kingdom” or “a declaration that Jesus is Lord over all” or any number of other things.  So the center of the gospel becomes something other than the cross. That is a misunderstanding of the gospel.  Second, there’s a tendency to re-think or re-understand the cross as something other than Jesus dying in the place of his people, taking the punishment they deserved for their sin.  So, often you’ll read or hear someone saying something like “At the cross, human culture and human systems reached their lowest, most evil point.  All the oppression and violence that humans could muster was flung at Jesus, and he absorbed it all and defeated it!”  What’s missing there, of course, is any understanding that what Jesus really absorbed on the cross was God’s wrath for our sin.  It’s why Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me” and not, “O culture, O culture, why have you turned against me?”

We will use the Gospel, the Cross, Jesus’ Substitutionary sacrifice and God’s Word to answer some of our questions of God and life. “Why did God allow this to happen?” “Now, what do I do?” If God is good, why ______?” “If God is all-knowing, why should I bother to pray?”

Why not take another look at the Cross? Why not take another look at Jesus? Why not take another look at the Gospel? It might just change your life – eternally.

Sermons For Life and Lent

Posted by ajenkins on February 4, 2010 under Devotionals, Sermons and More | Be the First to Comment

First Sunday in Lent (February 21, 2010) James 1:9-15

The readings: James 1:13-18 will provide us with spiritual insight into desire, temptation, sin, and death. Don’t you want to get out of the rut?

Second Sunday in Lent (February 28, 2010) James 1:1-8

Continuing with the intersection of life and faith on this Sunday we will read about trials and suffering. Do you undergo trials? Do you suffer? Of course you do. These are inevitable for everyone, even Christians. This Sunday we will look at the benefits of facing trials and the power to do it. Don’t miss this.

Third Sunday in Lent (March 7, 2010) James 3:1-12

Taming the tongue. Can you imagine never saying anything critical? That’s not just not saying something critical about another person, but not saying anything critical about any THING. Wow! That means you won’t complain about the stop light at Camp and Folly Rd. The theme is: Self-mastery, only by faith. Okay, it’s time for the prayer again. Dear God, help!!

Fourth Sunday in Lent (March 14, 2010) James 3:13-18

By this Sunday we’ll be ready to deal with our relationships. Our theme this week: Wise Relationships. It will help us deal with the most difficult thing in life: other people.

Fifth Sunday in Lent (March 21, 2010) James 5:7-11

We conclude our five weeks of readings by looking at something everyone wants but no one wants to work at it: Patience. We will prepare for Easter by planting the seeds that bear spiritual fruit.

Palm Sunday (March 28, 2010) Luke 23:1-49

Our Lord’s Triumphal Entry, the Last Supper , the Trial and the Crucifixion will be our focus. Remember, there must be a death before there can be a resurrection.