What can we expect in the realm of our spiritual lives during 2011? The following list is by no means comprehensive, but reflects my own impressions. I invite you to read it, pray and perhaps receive from Heaven's heart your own effective list to guide you through this calendar year.

I believe the Spirit of the Lord is taking us to a place that supersedes Ego, Division, Ministry Pride, Money Motive and Personal Kingdom Building. He is pursuing us to choose Humility, Covenant Brotherhood, God's Glory and Authenticity. In short, we will need to depend upon the Living God as never before.

Greater Dependence on God

Major events of 2010 have forced the bottom line reality that we all need help. We remember the earthquake in Haiti that swallowed untold thousands of lives in January. We salute the 33 Chilean miners who gamely waited 70 days to be rescued, half a mile inside the earth. We weigh Israel's tragic Carmel Forest fire that claimed 44 lives and required international aid to put out. The catastrophes of 2010 magnified our human vulnerability and the raw need for help and intervention.

Who knows what crises, natural or international, await the world in 2011? We cannot know. Here, Yeshua's instruction is particularly relevant. He told us that during the tumultuous end times we should "Look up, your redemption draws nigh" (Luke 21:28). The call to look up is not only designed to increase our hope the in expectation of His return. It is a practical key to carry us through seriously trying situations. "Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you and you will glorify me" (Psalm 50:15).

Don't you feel the growing need for intense, effective prayer? I do, daily. May this be the year that our prayer/intercessory relationship with our Father moves into a higher gear, providing real-time answers and an ever-deepening, unbreakable connection with our King.

Greater Dependence on One Another
(Covenant Relationships will be tested)

John Donne said, "No man is an island." This year will underscore that profound statement. In the tale of Jonathan and David we have a shining example of what can happen when two people forge a relationship of genuine mutual trust and honor.

Jonathan, the heir to the kingdom, removed his armor (sword, bow and belt) representing power and personal position. He chose to relinquish his rightful place of authority and privilege, preferring David, because "he loved him as his own soul". The trust these two men demonstrated was so great that the kingdom of Messiah was established through their covenant friendship. The greater made way for the chosen; the chosen honored the heir.

The longer I seek to be a servant leader the more I see how fragile relationships can be. Misunderstanding, mistrust, offense, insecurity and fear regularly attack relationships. The default position is to pull back into ourselves. "In the end, men will be lovers of self" (2 Timothy 3:2). On the other hand, walking with one another in selfless love, patient forgiveness and healing affirmation bring the kingdom of God into view on earth. Our King is challenging us; He is requiring of us a new level of investment in our friendships and fellowships. If we want the manifestation of the Spirit of the Lord, this area must be clean and fresh. "By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:35).

Greater Boldness in Witnessing

"And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end shall come" (Matthew 24:14). Though we don't know the day or the hour, who can doubt that the end of the world is approaching? The compelling priority of personal witness issues from God's heart. He aches for His human children who are wandering, utterly lost in this world's darkness. Of course, the final act of history's drama features a renewed witness to Israel, in the Hebrew tongue, expressed through a biblical Jewish identity. Yeshua linked His return with Israel calling on Him in the latter days. "You shall see me no more till you say 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord'" (Matthew 23:39).

All of this convicts me. I am spending too little time with not-yet-believers. But the Spirit of Yeshua in me is longing to befriend them. This is the year.

Conclusion: The Future is Ours

"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope" (Jeremiah 29:13). In 586 BCE, the prophet declared these words to a Jerusalem that had been destroyed before his very eyes, with tens of thousands of his fellow Jews brutally slain at the hands of the Babylonians. This same Jeremiah authored the Book of Lamentations, an emotionally exhausting description of Zion's fall and captivity. Against the backdrop of such tragedy, he wrote "Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed. Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness. 'The Lord is my portion,' says my soul, 'Therefore I hope in Him'" (Lamentations 3:22-24). If the weeping prophet could focus on these despair shattering truths while enduring the devastation of Jerusalem, surely there is hope for us.

You may have gone through some pretty hard times in 2010. I experienced a few myself. Early last year, a very close team relationship of 16 years was broken. Toward the end of the year one of my dearest friends made his exit from this life after a grinding battle with cancer. You can add your heavy trials, I'm sure. May the compassion of the Lord bring comfort and renewal in their aftermath - and in those situations you are still walking through. Yet the measure of our walk with Yeshua is how we respond to adversity and loss. "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies" (Psalm 23:4-5).

What awaits us next? Whatever it is, the Lord is serious about washing us from past disappointments and pain, then strengthening us. He wants us, His sons and daughters, servants and messengers, to be ready to manifest the Kingdom of God on this earth at this time. We MUST make Yeshua known - not only in words but in deeds and in character.

I want to make a bold statement, by unction of the Ruach. The future is ours. The future does not belong to evil. It does not belong to darkness and war and murder and corruption. All of these are happening and will continue. But the word of the Lord to us is "Do not be afraid. Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today" (Exodus 14:13). Moses made this bold prediction to the Israelites as the war chariots of Pharaoh loomed closer and closer to the refugee families who had fled Egypt's bonds. We may not experience a literal parting of the Red Sea in 2011 (then again...?) but standing in the full light of our God, we can bring Him glory and assist those around us to see His salvation.

By Eitan Shishkoff

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Comments:
14:56 31Jan11 Susan Michaels -
Thank you for heartfelt encouragement to stand in the salvation of the Lord, and to be strengthened in Him. It is true we do not know what 2011 may bring. It is true God has seen us through many struggles, and reminded us how we all need one another. I concur that God is teaching us that we need one another and that we need a brighter, bolder witness in humility and love for His Kingdom. My prayer for 2011: "May those who love Him be like the sun when it rises in its strength," Judges 5:31. Shalom. The Lord our God is with us and He is mighty to save. May His peace be upon Jerusalem, and His love made known mightily.

15:43 31Jan11 Bob Martin -
Bro. Eitan, this was my very prayer this morning and my hearts cry. The scripture that you quoted (Luke21:28) was one that came to my mind as I was praying this morning. As we look at the signs of the times your message is so timely.

20:08 31Jan11 David Davenport -
I was reminded within your closing verse, of the very next verse (Ex. 14:14), which reads: "The L-rd will fight for you while you keep silent"(NASB). In this context, consider also Psalm 62:1, which reads: "My soul waits in silence, for God only"(NASB).
As darkness rages about us as 2011 unfolds, nothing could be more critical than that to set aside portions of each day, ideally early in the morning, to simply sit in silence, awaiting the "still, small voice" of G-d.
May we all become acutely aware of the voice of "G-d only," as we press-in and find daily sustenance in the secret place of quiet devotion.

09:37 01Feb11 bd -
The single most transforming teaching I have heard this past year is by Rabbi Marty Waldman at Baruch HaShem in Dallas who always reminds us of Yeshua's teaching (and one that everyone knows): If you have anything against anyone, Forgive. Its power came when I finally really put it in practice and especially when I was the wrong one! But it transformed me and made me new and it even miraculously healed broken relationships and kept shaky relationships from disintegrating.
I have rarely had a fellow believer say "I am sorry, I was wrong, please forgive me." I have heard a lot of excuses but never those words. I have an unbelieving friend. She does not know scripture. She swears all the time. She never goes to church. She not only tells me she is sorry, she tries to make it right. Whose disciple is she? She gives me the courage all the time to say those words! And I do! But not often enough. Yeshua's teaching is transforming my heart and mind. And so is my unbelieving friend who practices it. But in the world of "believers" it is never seen or heard. You certainly will not ever hear a leader apologize unless they got caught with their hands in the cooky jar. So who needs to be evangelized? Who are my mother, brother and sisters? Those who know the will of God and do it. Many are looking for the power of God, for signs, for miracles and wonders. The greatest wonder and miracle of all will be when believers, leaders and lay alike live in love and forgiveness and when someone is finally willing to be the wrong one (why not rather be wronged said Paul) and make things right. For as many as Believed in His Name, to them He gave the Power to be the Sons of God ...

09:41 01Feb11 Ladonna Engebretson -
I am always amused when the Exodus 14:13 scripture is used to tell us to stand still and see what God will do. Although that is the charge of other scriptures, in this instance, Moses gets rebuked by God and is told to tell the sons of Israel to go forward. He is then instructed to take action (lift up your staff and divide the sea). I am praying that Israel's leaders will have God's clarity on what their action is --- then we will all stand and see the mighty deliverance of the hand of God!

10:24 01Feb11 Hillary -
Since Yeshua says nothing is more important than love, let's make that our goal in the midst of simple and difficult times. No matter how the focus on love influences the way we handle all situations, we will, nevertheless be obedient to Yeshua's commandment, "Love the Lord with all your heart ... and your neighbor as yourself." Luke 10:27. In the end, how can I know for certain the best decisions, except that I seek God, who is love. I can not claim to have all the specific correct answers. So, I trust my God...maybe that is the "perfect" that the Scripture says.. Be ye perfect as your Father is perfect. Matt. 5:48 Knowing the peace of God is sufficient daily. His peace is a portion of God's great grace ... that He will never leave us and that nothing can separate us from His love.

11:00 02Feb11 Lynda Nedrow -
Thank you for your affirming words. In a recent Torah portion, the Lord reminded me of something ... He TOLD the Israelites where to camp. He placed them by the Red Sea ... with no logical means of escape. He put them in a place where their only hope was Him ... and then delivered them with a mighty display of power! So I am reminding myself to wait trustingly for Him in the midst of seemingly impossible situations. My parting of the Red Sea may not look like I thought it would, but it WILL come. He is faithful.

08:26 05Feb11 Mark Scuderi -
Very good. I like the "here it is" approach, don't hold back, not much time left until we see Jesus, our Lord and Saviour!!!

02:36 12Feb11 M -
Very good article and sensitivity to the Ruach. I like the comment, how we respond to adversity and loss, and I will add confusion, doubt, fear. My personal journey these last months is ... T R U S T. Every minute in every situation, keep calm, get a grip on emotions. I also like very much your reminder that we must keep love in our hearts in relationships. So many are in turmoil, in need, etc. I've been impressed personally and for believers that it would be good to prepare to experience hard times and to know and trust that our Lord, Saviour and Father will bring us through each one. Prepare and trust.


Also in this issue of the newsletter:

Daniel Juster: Religious Coercion and Liberty of Conscience
Marty Shoub: "You Will Never Walk Again!"
Asher Intrater: Destiny for the Church of Spain