Connecting Point – October 18, 2023

 

The conflict in Israel is dominating the news these days, and affecting many people here in the U.S. The conflict initially began on October 7 when Hamas (the governing leadership in Gaza) fired over 3000 missiles into Israel and Hamas terrorists invaded Israel. During the invasion over 1300 Israeli's and 22 Americans were killed, and hundreds of people (including children, women and elderly people) were captured and taken back to Gaza.

Since the news of that invasion was received here in the U.S., at Celebration we've been praying for the ceasing of the conflict, the return of all of the hostages, comfort for Israelis and Palestinians who have lost loved ones and for justice to prevail. We've also been praying for and communicating with some of our missionaries in Israel as they've been serving and helping refugees who were driven from their homes and towns by the Hamas terrorists.

Yesterday U.S. President Joe Biden flew to Israel to show support for Israel and to see if any type of negotiations for peace can take place. Meanwhile here in the U.S. and in other nations there have been protests and conflict regarding what is happening in Israel and Gaza. Many critics of Israel have claimed that the Israeli people "colonized" their land from its previous Palestinian owners, and that Israel continues to oppress the Palestinian people. They've voiced their opposition in the U.S. and other countries via protests on college campuses and city streets. At the same time, many others have defended Israel's right to govern over the land formerly known as Palestine and protect their people. And they have protested what Hamas has done by invading Israel, killing innocent people and taking the most defenseless people (little children, women and the elderly) as hostages, hostages who may be tortured and/or killed.

The word "Palestine" comes from "Philistia," the name given to the land occupied by the Philistines of the Bible. In Old Testament times the Philistines were warring with the Israelites for the land they're still fighting over thousands of years later. Over the centuries the land has been ruled by the Israelites, Babylonians, Assyrians, Persians, Romans, Byzantine Arabs, European Crusaders, Mamluks and the Ottoman Empire. Regardless of who has ruled over Israel or Palestine, Christians and Jews believe God gave that land to Abraham and his descendants, as our Pastors and I preached about this past Sunday. To listen to the message, go to Gotta Have Faith | Choices That Lead To Change | CELEBRATION CHURCH SUNDAY MORNING WORSHIP SERVICE.

GOTTA HAVE FAITH - PAST SUNDAY'S MESSAGE

There is a widespread belief that if Israel would only give back the territories it seized during the Six Day War in 1967, then peace would come to the Middle East. This is a false belief. Israel gave back the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt in 1982 as a result of Egypt recognizing Israel as a legitimate sovereign state.The other territories that Israel occupied after 1967 were the Gaza Strip and the West Bank of the Jordan, the latter known as Judea and Samaria in Biblical days. In 2005, Israel gave Gaza back to the Palestinians, who were simply known at that time as Arabs, since there was not a Palestinian national identity (even though some of the local Arab inhabitants had lived there for centuries). And in 2006, the Palestinians in Gaza elected Hamas as their leadership. Hamas is a political organization that was formed in 1987 for the explicit purpose of obliterating Israel. How would you like to live next door to a family who believed you did not have a right to be in your house and who expressly stated, "We will drive you out or murder you"? That's what Israelis have dealt with since 2006.

Some would say, "But Israel still exercises control over Gaza, not allowing the Palestinians to travel at will in and out of Israel and restricting their access to the outside world." That is correct, but it's because Hamas has vowed to slaughter as many Israelis as possible, and Hamas rules Gaza. Do you really think Israel will say, "Yes, by all means, we will take down all defensive measures and open our borders fully to barbaric terrorists who want to wipe us out"?

We can live victoriously no matter what spiritual warfare we're going through.

I'm praying that President Biden's visit will lead to some sort of cease-fire initiative, which would save thousands of lives, and that it would bring about the return of hostages taken by the Hamas terrorists. But I have little hope there will be an end to the contention and the conflict, the same conflict that's been going on for 4,000+ years. When asked about "peace in the Middle East" I often reply, "There will be no lasting peace in the Middle East until the Prince of Peace (Jesus) returns to further establish His kingdom on Planet Earth." And by the way, that will only happen when Jesus descends to the Mount of Olives which overlooks Jerusalem, and defeats the forces of the devil in the battle of Armageddon, which will take place in the land of Israel. But until that time let's keep praying for the ceasing of the conflict, the return of all of the hostages, comfort for Israelis and Palestinians who have lost loved ones, and for justice to prevail.

By the way, there is a lot of conflict going on in the U.S. these days between the forces of evil and the forces of God. I'm actually teaching about that in our midweek services at Celebration on Airline. We're going to post those studies titled, WINNING THE BATTLE, on our Celebration YouTube Channel, in order to help you and others learn how to overcome the temptations, trials and attacks of the Devil. Be sure to check out studies and learn how the Lord has not left us defenseless against the attacks of the devil and devilish people. We can live victoriously no matter what spiritual warfare we're going through, if we learn the tactics of the enemy, learn how to defend ourselves and drive the devil away from our lives and homes. Remember, God has called us to be "more than conquerors through Jesus" (Romans 8:37).

CLICK HERE TO HELP THOSE IN NEED

If you want to help the people who have been driven from their homes and livelihoods in Israel, you can do so by giving to www.celebrationchurch.org/disasterreliefWe will be sending monies given to that account in October to ministries that we work with around the world (Mercy Chefs, Samaritan's Purse, etc.) and to our missionaries working in Israel.

This Sunday we will be continuing our CHOICES THAT LEAD TO CHANGE Spiritual Growth emphasis, and learning about how to appropriate the Holy Spirit's power for our lives on a daily basis. If we learn how to live daily in the power of God's Spirit, we will be able to overcome trials and temptations, discover God's will for our lives, be bold witnesses for the Lord, be effective partners, parents, employers and employees, and drive the devil away from our lives and families. So plan to join us this coming Sunday at Celebration, and ask some friends and family members to come with you.
Remember, Jesus Changes Everything,
  
Pastor Dennis Watson
Lead Pastor, Celebration Church
dennisw@celebrationchurch.org
  dennis.watson.96
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