Which One Are You

In the Bible we see many people who rejected Yeshua (Jesus’ Hebrew name). They usually had a reason, for example, some read the prophetic scriptures and concluded Yeshua was not the promised Messiah. They assumed they knew where He was from and therefore, He couldn’t be from God. In Nazareth they knew Yeshua and His family, but they didn’t know He was born in Bethlehem or that He was from God, born of a virgin. (John 7:27; 6:42).

  • The prophets said He would be David’s son, from Bethlehem. They thought we was from Galilee and didn’t know He was born in Bethlehem; was in the lineage of David through both Joseph and Mary, and were unaware of the prophecy about Galilee. (Micah 5:2; Matt. 4: 13-16).
  • They refused to believe the miracles He performed as signs of the Messiah and doubted when they didn’t see it personally, though thousands witnessed it. (Matt. 11:21,23). 
  • They were looking for a warrior Messiah who would deliver them from Roman rule. He came as a meek servant, poor, rejected by the influential and powerful, a preacher of God’s truth and love. (Isa. 31: 4-5; 53: 3-12).
  • They relied upon the religious leaders who were not looking for the Messiah or God’s will and only cared about preserving their positions of power. (John 11:48).
  • They were pursuing their own interests, religious traditions and had no real interest in the Messiah or God’s will. (Matt. 19: 21-22; 6:5).
  • They saw Yeshua only as a man who did not satisfy their worldly desires and expectations. (John 6:26-27).
  • They were consumed with hatred of the Roman occupation and thought they must produce their own deliverance. Similarly, they weren’t looking for the Messiah and had little or no knowledge of him.  (Luke 23:18-19).
  • Yeshua’s message of selflessness, mercy, forgiveness, humility and the true nature of God’s love was offensive to their prideful lifestyle. (Matt. 23:23-26).
  • Yeshua’s words of knowing God, doing His will, fulfilling prophecy, and demonstrating He was the Messiah made them mad, so angry they tried to kill him more than once. (John 8:59; 10:31).
  • They didn’t believe in God and/or the God disclosed in the scriptures. (John 9:29).

Today, there are new objections, such as: He was never an actual person; He was killed by the Romans and stayed dead; the resurrection never happened; the whole Bible is a myth, only science is Truth; Christians are evil and bad, etc. Most believers were under one or another of these delusions, but something happened to change everything. For example, Saul was imprisoning Believers until Yeshua showed up and confronted him. It may have been a scripture, message, or testimony they heard, or a serious event that got their attention and suddenly as though the lights came on, and there was the Lord and Savior, Yeshua Messiah. Scripture says everyone who seeks finds. (Luke 11:10). If you seek Him, you will find Him in some manner, like the woman at the well who was expecting the Messiah. (John 4: 7-26). Have you sincerely and earnestly sought the only one who can give you life abundant, true peace, and healing within your innermost being?

Efforts and Grace

I was reminded of several interrelated things today. First, I was sad that an irresistible swarm of cabbage leave worms attacked and consumed every leaf of  Kale and Turnip greens in my garden. I have bees, so I could not fight them with insecticide and organic methods were useless against such a horde. Then I considered a volunteer watermelon plant that came up all on its own and produced three giant watermelons in just a couple weeks. At this time my granddaughters were catching grasshoppers in the yard and containing them in overturned cups on the drive. When I told them their mother was on her way to pick them up, they ran out to the driveway to move their precious menagerie of grasshoppers. Finally, out of the blue I remembered a tax case I worked on about twenty years ago. It involved a gain that resulted from a massive liquidation, distribution and reorganization of a multinational consolidated group. The gain was overlooked due to complex basis computations and rarely applicable sections of tax law. The representative attorney maintained that he did not understand the issue, though it was fully explained in a report with a description of the issue, facts, law, argument and conclusion. Of course, it is not necessary to agree with a tax position, as the facts, law or argument can each be disputed. What made this event memorable was that he prevailed with no other position than “he did not understand the issue.”

Then, I realized all these observances and recollections had a theme – we attribute concern for the fruit of our labors – but that which we receive by grace is often ignored or welcomed with less gratitude. Perhaps its why we spend so much effort trying to be happy or content in this world, even though we recognize that this world is not our home and our true longing and destination is with the Lord in Heaven. “For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 5:1-6)

Lord, show us where and how best to expend our efforts and to be led by your Spirit. We thank you that all things work for our good as we love you and are called according to your purpose. Forgive us for not recognizing all the grace you give us each day. Help us to put more faith and hope in your grace than our efforts.

Our God

“Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the Lord their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the Lord their God had sent him. And the people feared the Lord. Then Haggai, the messenger of the Lord, spoke to the people with the Lord’s message, “I am with you, declares the Lord.” And the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people. And they came and worked on the house of the Lord of hosts, their God, on the twenty-fourth day of the month, in the sixth month, in the second year of Darius the king.” Haggai 1:12-15. 

Zerubbabel had led a remnant of Israel (about 50,000) back to their land after the 70 years of Babylonian exile and after Cyrus had overthrown Babylon. Zerubbabel, grandson of the former King of Judah Jehoiachin, was appointed governor of the newly constituted province of Judah by the King of Cyrus. The people, after the return, had initially laid the foundation to rebuild the temple but due to opposition from the people that lived in the land (Ezra 4:1-5) they abandoned the effort. They had instead reverted to building themselves luxury houses (paneled indicates the expensive timber used) and making themselves as comfortable in the land as they could. God had subsequently caused the people’s efforts to not prosper. They sowed but reaped little.

The prophet Haggai was sent to the remnant to inform them that God had caused the land to withhold its produce to them until such time as they built the temple. After hearing the message from the Lord the people “obeyed the voice of the Lord their God.” This simple act of obedience led to God “stirring” up the spirit of the people and they proceeded to zealously complete the temple within just four years, even against the opposition.

I am often impressed about how simple obedience to God can produce so much good for us as Christians. It can stir our spirits to great deeds and cause God to bless our sowing with great reaping both materially and spiritually. Most importantly, it allows us to keep our relationship with God fully intact and our life on the pathway he ordains for us with all the settled joy and contentment that results. It is interesting to note that the chapter starts with God’s message to “this people” but once they begin to obey God they are described as working on the house of “their God”. Let us pursue obedience to all of God’s commands so that we can testify to the fact that He is our God.

A Day as a Thousand Years

Scripture says, “By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.” (2 Peter 3:7-8). This scripture is about the the end and the Lord’s patience. God transcends time.

“For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to human standards in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit.” (1 Peter 4:6). I believe everyone who ever lived will be given a revelation of God as an opportunity to accept God by faith and basis for judgment. “Very truly I tell you, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live.” (John 5:25). Yeshua said His voice had the power to give life to the dead. I believe this has a multi-dimensional application, as to the physical, spiritual, and soul. Every Believer has been raised to a new spiritual life. “After being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits—to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water,….” (1 Peter 3:19-20.) “He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.” (Luke 20:38). God is Spirit and the spirit within each man returns to God at death, but that is not the end before God, just as God is called the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, all existence is open and present before Him.

God is beyond time, there is no comparison, He is faster or slower than time measures. Yeshua was in the grave dead for three days and Peter gives just a hint that a proclamation was made to imprisoned spirits who were disobedient before the flood. Moreover, the gospel was preached to the dead regarding their judgment. Not a lot is said about this and to speculate is not good, but it does illustrate the relative nature of time with respect to the spirit. Whatever Yeshua accomplished in the grave took three days of physical earth time, but could have been equivalent to three thousand years in grave time. So, just as God can wait thousands of years for the entire human family to be born and live their lives here on earth, for Him it is as a few days, but in the end the Universe will be destroyed by fire, and then the judgment will come. Yeshua said, “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned.” (John 5:28-29). Read the Bible for yourself, even if you can understand only a little, start with the Gospel of John. 

Anger Rising

We are made in the image of God; not that we are equal or just like God, but we favor him. One aspect we share is the emotion of anger. God was angry with Israel. “Remember this and never forget how you aroused the anger of the Lord your God in the wilderness. From the day you left Egypt until you arrived here, you have been rebellious against the Lord. At Horeb you aroused the Lord’s wrath so that he was angry enough to destroy you….I feared the anger and wrath of the Lord, for he was angry enough with you to destroy you. But again the Lord listened to me. And the Lord was angry enough with Aaron to destroy him, but at that time I prayed for Aaron too.” (Deuteronomy 9:7-8, 19-20). Again we find, “God’s anger rose against them…” and “Because of their guilt, God’s anger came on Judah and Jerusalem.” (Psalm 78:31; 2 Chronicles 24:18).

Was Yeshua ever angry? As fully human, He must have been and I remembered when he drove the money changers out of the temple, but it concludes, “His disciples remembered that it is written: ‘Zeal for your house will consume me.’ ” (John 2:17). There is one account, “Then Jesus asked them, ‘Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?’ ” But they remained silent. He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored.” (Mark 3:4-5) It seems very rare, but His anger did not prevent miraculous healing, because He is divine as well as human.

God is perfect, therefore, even His anger is just and righteous. In the end God’s wrath and anger will be appeased. “But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.” (Romans 2:8; Matthew 18:34-35; Hebrews 4:3). We are far from perfect, so our anger is not good or just. “But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.” (Matthew 5:22). “But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.” (Colossians 3:8). “In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold….Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” (Ephesians 4:26-27, 31). The devil will get a foothold in order to harm us, if we succumb to anger, rather than producing God’s goodness. As James says, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” (James 1:19-20). My son-in-law put this into action when he told me, “If I feel the blood rising within from anger because of something said or heard; I wait till I calm down before responding, even if I must wait till tomorrow.” Lord, we see anger in the news and many things trigger anger within us. Help us release the anger through forgiveness, restore the peace, and cut off Satan’s influence.

Yeshua’s Church

This is a sad truth, in history there have been churches that accepted tyranny, evil, and wickedness in opposition to Yeshua. Apostate refers to a person or group who renounces a religious belief. The teaching of Yeshua should be accepted by His followers, to side with the world’s beliefs rather than God’s word is to betray Yeshua’s teaching. Before WW2 the German church accepted Hitler and his Nazi edicts, this was Apostasy, even if the leaders claimed they did not know of the death camps, there was no denying that Hitler was evil. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a leader in the German church who saw the evil of Hitler and refused to be disobedient to Yeshua. The Russian Orthodox church later became apostate by accepting communists murder of fifty million Russians who chose not to worship the State above God. In America there is an Apostate church that accepts the world’s perverted detestable behavior and substitutes man’s reason for God’s truth, seeking the approval of men before that of God. 

It is not our place to judge individuals in the church, but rather we are to pray that God will restore them to Himself. “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him. If you see any brother or sister commit a sin that does not lead to death, you should pray and God will give them life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that you should pray about that.” (1 John 5:14-16). In John’s Revelation chapter two and three Yeshua judges the seven Churches, and we must take heed, because we are members of His Church. He is the Lord of all Believers and He holds us in His all powerful, loving hands, but we must submit ourselves to His rule and the Spirit’s leading. With respect to praying for our fellow believers, Daniel was a great example for us in this regard, he said, “While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel and making my request to the Lord my God for his holy hill—while I was still in prayer,….”. (Daniel 9:20-21). We see that Daniel interceded for the sin of his people Israel. Our natural inclination is to condemn, criticize, and denounce those who fail to follow Yeshua wholeheartedly, but our first effort in their reclamation should be intercession, and that after recognizing our own sin as well.

Just as there are serious failures of certain churches in history, there have been many great testimonies of victory and faithfulness. Moreover, every nation that has followed Yeshua diligently has found favor and blessing, England and America are two examples. Part of that blessing is to share with others. Also, as Believers we have a priestly calling for intercession and sharing the Good News of Yeshua with the world. John says, “Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.” (Revelation 1:4-6)

Lord, Yeshua (Jesus’ Hebrew name) forgive us for our fear of man and failure to stand with you and upon your word. You gave yourself for us and we owe all to you. Send your Holy Spirit upon your congregation of Believers to turn our hearts back to you so that we may be unified, wholly obedient to your word and lordship. In these last days, distinguish us from the world and show yourself powerfully through your Congregation of Believers.

Reconciled By Christ

“And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.” Col 1:21-22.

Christ’s death, through His blood shed on the cross, reconciles us to God. Despite the fact that beforehand we were alienated from God and even actively hostile to Him, through faith we are saved (Ephesians 2:8) and our sins forgiven and a relationship restored with God. It has nothing to do with our own righteousness, which is nonexistent, but the fact that Christ’s reconciliation is imparted to us (II Peter 1:4). This allows us, as Christians, to be presented holy, blameless and beyond reproach before God. “Holy” means set apart from sin. “Blameless” means without blemish or defect. “Beyond reproach” means totally without occasion for criticism. Paul was not speaking about our current conduct but about our position in Christ – how we are seen by God to be. We will continue to sin until death, as we have the temptations of our fallen nature that remains, but we have been “clothed with Christ” (Galatians 3:27) and no longer face eternal condemnation (Romans 8:1). All of this Christ does for us – a free gift if we only believe. Those that do not believe in Christ will remain hostile to Him as we see so often in our country and around the world today.

The word “if”indeed you continue in the faith could better be translated “since”. In the original it has the connotation that the writer assumes the condition to be true. When Paul says that God “reconciled” us to Him it is past tense – an established fact that cannot be changed. If someone truly believes, the past reconciliation produces a present faith – true faith always has the quality of permanence. The result of this faith is that Christ presents Believers holy and blameless and above reproach before Him. It is not dependent on our righteous but Christ’s righteousness. Of course, if we are truly Believers we will not desire to sin and when we do will be grieved and confess and repent of our sins and be cleansed from all unrighteousness (I John 1:9).

How wonderful is the good news of the Gospel! We, whose best outside of God is filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6), through faith in Christ have been reconciled to God. What we could not do for ourselves Christ did for us on the cross.

Kingdom Preparation

This is our duty to prepare ourselves for readiness, though our role is limited in the greater ongoing preparation in heaven. Yeshua said, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:3) What sort of preparations have we been doing? Have we been busy preparing a more comfortable place on this earth? Have we done all the preparation we know do to and we are waiting patiently for the next step? Not only is a place prepared for each believing child of God, but there is a place of eternal fire prepared for the enemy and his fallen angels. (Matthew 25:41). The entire creation, physical and spiritual dimensions, will be prepared for the judgment where good and evil will be separated. All the lies, deception, and everything false will be separated from truth, righteousness and holiness on the day of judgment.

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10) “However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”— the things God has prepared for those who love him— these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:9-10). When we prepare our mind and heart for obedience we will encounter opportunities prepared for us. Of course, the Spirit is our guide leading us and empowering us to accomplish God’s purposes. Even Moses, the prophets and Apostles followed the same process of being alert, hearing instruction, and obeying. All the power, coordination of others, even amassing the enemy for defeat is organized by God; we simply show up, believe and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit.

“In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work. Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” (2 Timothy 2:20-22). Lord Yeshua, as our King and Brother, thank you for bringing us into your Kingdom and family. Thank you for giving us a small part in your redemptive work on earth. Let us be alert, watchful, and prepared for your return.

Accepting the Word

 Most religions have professional clergy that facilitate the requirements of the religion to the common people. In Judaism the priest offered the sacrifices that covered sins. The eastern religions have priests that serve a similar role. In some Christian sects a priest is necessary to absolve sins and administer sacraments. However, the Bible teaches that Yeshua (Jesus Hebrew name) became our one and only high priest bringing atonement through his blood sacrifice once and for all who believe. (Heb. 4:14-14; 5:1-10). Therefore, each person who believes receives salvation and the impartation of the Holy Spirit which leads us into all truth. (John 16: 13)

Teaching can be good, but should not be the believers only or primary connection with God’s word. I hope the encouragement given in this communication causes people to read the Word themselves in an open dialog through the Spirit. We must learn to eat the fish and spit out the bones of men’s teaching. An example can be seen in the withered fig tree. “Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then he said to the tree, ‘May no one ever eat fruit from you again.’ And his disciples heard him say it….In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots.” (Mark 11:13-14, 20) The fact that it was not the season for figs, yet Yeshua cursed it for having no figs creates a problem for some men, so they teach that there could have been some other edible portion (taqsh-nob fruit or Berba-off season fig) on the tree. Their need to justify Yeshua’s curse by a fault of the fig tree overcomes the fact of God’s sovereignty. God can not be judged by man’s sense of justice. God is sovereign and does according to His will and pleasure. (Eph. 1:5). Paul observed that man is in no position to question why God does anything. “One of you will say to me: ‘Then why does God still blame us? For who is able to resist his will?’ But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’ ” Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use? (Romans 9:19-21). 

Any man could cut down a tree for a walking stick, tool, implement, firewood or any purpose. Yeshua cursed this tree to teach His disciples that faith is powerful and said afterwards, ” ‘Have faith in God,’ Jesus answered. ‘Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, “Go, throw yourself into the sea,” and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them.’ ” (Mark 11:22-23; Matt. 31: 19-22). It is not necessary to concoct an answer for anyone who asks, “Why did Jesus justly curse a tree to kill it?” Particularly, when scripture says it was not the fig bearing season. Some suggest the leaves indicated a possibility of edible fruit and this indicated hypocrisy in the tree, thus deserving the curse. Of course there are all sorts of symbolic teachings, but at least we understand these are merely conjecture and speculation. This was not a parable.

Beware of teaching that strains the clear meaning of words and scripture. This portion of scripture is about believing faith in action, not about the properties of fig trees or why it was just to curse the tree, which He did to show the power of faith. The Holy Spirit is able to lead each Believer into all truth. Do not assign to men the duty of the Holy Spirit.

With Faith

My grandson told me that he had to make a Medieval shield in an upcoming school assignment. He could draw one on poster board and cut it out or if he could make one out of wood or metal he would earn creativity points that were up to fifty percent of the grade. He asked, “Would you help me make one?” I immediately responded, “Yes”, you need to sketch out some ideas or designs of what you want and I will see what we can make with wood and metal. I followed up several days later and he had not drawn anything. Later, I inquired again and then forgot about it. After a week or so, we were over at his house keeping his younger sister. He explained that the due date on the shield was two days away and he was going to do it on poster board.

I had been looking forward to working with him and even got an idea for including some metal parts, so I offered to put something together the next day and he could paint it the night before it was due. I thought it would be best to make it rough, so as to look authentic. I fabricated some flashing for the outside edges of the wood and a protruding round metal hump in the center, as I had seen on TV and movies. Before I dropped it off, his parents called and asked if I could make sure he got it painted with the appropriate elements as dictated by his teacher, such as a crest of initials, goals, achievements, and a motto. Although I had not volunteered for this part, I agreed since his parents were both having to work late. 

As my grandson was painting the shield, I said, “If your teacher asks if anyone helped you…”. He interrupted, “Tell them you did it.” “No, tell them I did part of it.” I was concerned he might be tempted to claim that he had no help, but that never occured to him. My wife was sitting nearby and suggested that his part had been rather insignificant. I thought for a moment and I realized that my grandson had acted upon his faith. By asking for my help and trusting in my care for him, he had unlocked, by faith, more than he could have ever achieved on his own. He had acted upon scripture which says many times and in various ways, “Ask and you will receive.”

The spiritual similarity is right on point. We believe our loving Father will give us good things as he has said and demonstrated in the past. We expect to do our part, but we are weak, easily distracted, and limited. God does his part and remains faithful, even when we are not. God does more than we can ask or imagine. We are right to give God the credit and recognize our limits, failings and unreliability. God does not begrudge giving good things to us and His love and compassion reaches out to us engendering relationship. It begins with faith. Yeshua said, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17: 20). 

James addressed those who trusted in themselves and their evil selfishness, saying, “…You don’t have because you don’t ask.” (James 4: 2). Yes, we can ask amiss or for selfish reasons, but true faith placed in God surrenders the outcome and means to God. Our faith may be weak, we may doubt at some point, but that addresses the quality of our faith, rather than its existence. The opposite of faith is self-reliance, wherein we never even consider seeking God. The enemy raises doubts, questions, rationalization, accusations, and lies to quench our faith, hoping to destroy faith and its powerful effects. To build up faith we step-out relying more and more on God and His word, rather than attempting in our own strength to eliminate doubt or by limiting our requests to things we can do ourselves. By doing so we might reduce occasional disappointment, but we will certainly diminish God’s work in our lives, those around us, and the pleasure God finds in us. (Heb. 12: 6).

The Dallas Statement

The Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel (or the Dallas Statement) is a statement of faith, drafted in the summer of 2018 in Dallas, TX by a group of evangelicals led by John MacArthur, in response to how certain evangelicals have drifted away from the Christian Gospel towards a social gospel, the latter being some conglomeration of Critical Race Theory, Cultural Marxism, and Rauschenbuschism (a socialist view of Christianity that desired to produce an utopia kingdom of God on earth). The Statement was a long overdue strike against the false racist Critical Race Theory and other false doctrines that have found their way into the Church. Critical Race Theory is the theory that the law and legal institutions are inherently racist and that race itself, instead of being biologically grounded and natural, is a socially constructed concept that is used by white people to further their economic and political interests at the expense of people of color. It maintains that existing power structures are based on white privilege and white supremacy, which perpetuates the marginalization of people of color. In essence, if you are white you are inherently racist and always will be, which is a thoroughly racist viewpoint.

The Dallas Statement is a series of affirmations and denials with supporting verses which include the following points:

1. The Bible is the final authority for truth and socially-constructed standards of truth or morality, and notions of virtue and vice that are constantly in flux cannot result in authentic justice.

2. No person is morally culpable for another person’s sin and one’s ethnicity does not establish necessary connection to any particular sin.

3. Political or social activism should not be viewed as integral components of the gospel or primary to the mission of the church.

4. God created mankind either male or female and this is determined biologically at conception and not subject to change. The curse of sin results in sinful, disordered affections that manifest in some people as same-sex attraction. God’s design for marriage is that one woman and one man live in one-flesh, covenantal, sexual relationship until separated by death. There is no such thing as a “gay Christian” as a legitimate biblical category.

5. God created mankind, both male and female, with inherent biological and personal distinctions between them. Though there is no difference between men and women before God’s law or as recipients of his saving grace, God has designed men and women with distinct traits and to fulfill distinct roles. In marriage the husband is to lead, love, and safeguard his wife and the wife is to respect and be submissive to her husband in all things lawful. In the church, qualified men alone are to lead as pastors/elders/bishops and preach to and teach the whole congregation.

6. All races are ontological equals before God. Any teaching that encourages racial groups to view themselves as privileged oppressors or entitled victims of oppression is wrong. A person’s feelings of offense or oppression does not necessarily prove that someone else is guilty of sinful behaviors, oppression, or prejudice.

7. Some cultures operate on assumptions that are inherently better than those of other cultures, because of biblical truths that inform those worldviews that have produced these distinct assumptions. Having said that, the various cultures out of which all have been called have features that are worldly and sinful and those sinful features should be repudiated. No individuals or sub-groups in any culture are unable, by God’s grace, to rise above whatever moral defects or spiritual deficiencies have been engendered or encouraged by their respective cultures.

8. Racism is a sin rooted in pride and malice which must be condemned and renounced by all who would honor the image of God in all people. All cultures, including our own, at times contain laws and systems that foster racist attitudes and policies. Individuals of any particular ethnic group are capable of racism.

Hooray for John MacArthur and the others who came up with this wonderful statement of faith that addresses the sins of racism, homosexuality, transgenderism, placing on some false responsibility for others sins, placing social activism above the gospel, and women leading and teaching men in the church. In this day when many churches are straying away from the Truth it is encouraging to see that 7,000 have still not bowed to Baal (I Kings 19:18), actually almost 15,000 at last count have signed the Statement.

Emotional Beings

I have a granddaughter with a face of a thousand expressions each one with meaning, emotion like a complete table of emoges. Scripture reminds us the we are fearfully and wonderfully made. (Ps. 139: 14). “Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” (Genesis 2: 7). Science has very little understanding about the essence of life. Though a person can be taken apart and investigated in minute detail life can not be initiated or explained. “You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.” (Psalm 139: 1-5). God knows each of us intimately, though we may not sense Him.

God created mankind for himself, in His own image and for relationship. That relationship is a long one comprising the greatest love story ever told, still ongoing from our perspective with the best yet to come. The end times draw nearer with turmoil and catastrophic upheaval in the earth, sky and space. The worldly secular man will be confounded and follow the enemy, while the Congregation of Believers will begin to shine like the Bride of Messiah. Then Yeshua will return as Israel’s Savior, defeating the enemy and uniting God’s people. “The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and his name the only name.” (Zechariah 14: 9). The Lord will reign for a thousand years and then the final judgement of the enemy and all people who ever lived. (Matt. 21: 31: 46). Thereafter, everything will be made new with mankind completely restored to God. “No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.”  (Rev. 22: 3-4).

In heaven there will still be emotion but none bad.  “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Rev. 21: 4). The writer of Hebrews explains how Believers enter into a joyous destiny. “But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.” (Hebrews 12: 22-24). Every Believer has cause to rejoice in a destiny of glory and joy everlasting. 

God The Father

“Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’ and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.” Psalm 32:1-5.

 “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” I John 1:8-9.

“As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.” Psalm 103:13-14.

The power of confession is amazing. When we, as Christians, sin God offers us a way cleanse us from all the unrighteousness through confession. Through the blood of Jesus shed on the cross and our faith in Him, we have forever been removed from the penalty of sin but we also can confess our sins that we commit after salvation and obtain cleansing and restoration of our fellowship with God. Confession is defined as an admission, declaration, or acknowledgment. We acknowledge our wrong-doing and turn from it in repentance. To fail to confess after sinning leads to David’s description of himself in Psalm 32 with God’s hand “heavy” upon us in conviction about our sins and eventual discipline (Hebrews 12:6).

Often we do not take the power and truth of confession and forgiveness to heart. Although we acknowledge God forgives sins, we feel like He must be disappointed with us, as we all too often fail, but this is not true at all. I am currently reading a book on prayer, “A Praying Life”, by Paul Miller and he makes the point that God looks on us as we would our children when it comes to our our prayer life and Christian walk in general. We are wobbling and unsteady at times but He is excited when we show progress, however small, just as we are with our children’s first steps. Mr. Miller makes the point that God calls all those who are weary and heavy-laden to rest (Matthew 11:28) not those who have it all together. He well-knows our fleshly frame that we are burdened with so He does not have unreasonable expectations and He is rooting us on to become the persons he beforehand determined us to be (Ephesians 2:10).

The “Believer’s Bible Commentary” puts it this way when discussing John 1:9, “The forgiveness John speaks about here is parental, not judicial. Judicial forgiveness means forgiveness from the penalty of sins, which the sinner receives when he believes on the Lord Jesus Christ. It is called judicial because it is granted by God acting as Judge. But what about sins which a person commits after conversion? As far as the penalty is concerned, the price has already been paid by the Lord Jesus on the cross of Calvary. But as far as fellowship in the family of God is concerned, the sinning saint needs parental forgiveness, that is, the forgiveness of His Father. He obtains it by confessing his sin. We need judicial forgiveness only once; that takes care of the penalty of all our sins—past, present, and future. But we need parental forgiveness throughout our Christian life.”

As with our own children, when we come to God sincerely confessing our sins, He will lovingly forgive us and happily restore us to fellowship with Him. What a comfort to a poor sinner like me. We are called to a live a holy life as Christ lived (I Peter 1:16), the expectations are high, but God understands the fallen nature that we struggle with and, although He never excuses sin, looks on with pride as we take baby steps forward, falling down and getting up, falling down and getting up. Our Father in Heaven loves us and as a parent is watching us each day with excited expectation.

World In Decline

It is quite easy to observe the decline of this world’s system. It can be quite interesting to remark and analyze the nuances of its encroachment and outright attack upon truth and righteousness. I have written about certain of these aspects, but lately, I’ve been convicted regarding the virtue of such pursuits. As American citizens we have every right to speak out against evil and insanity regarding our government and violations of constitutional foundations. As Believers and citizens of God’s Kingdom, we have no participation with or in this world’s decline toward ultimate rebellion and debauchery. My friend and I often reflect on the subtleties of the enemy’s latest deception or schemes because as children of the Light we see the Spiritual warfare that is waged against the truth. Nevertheless, as one of the Brothers said, I’m not surprised at the wickedness of the lost, but rather that it is not far worse than it actually is. God restrains evil and is reserving the wrath it accrues until the proper time. In other words, what should we expect from a fallen, broken, rebellious world but evil.

Even so, David was also distracted by the wicked in sixty-four psalms, often with multiple references in these psalms. In Psalm 37 he distinguishes the wicked from the righteous. “Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away.” (Ps. 37: 1-2). In Psalm 73 he shares a personal perspective, “But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold. For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong. They are free from common human burdens; they are not plagued by human ills…. When I tried to understand all this, it troubled me deeply till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny. Surely you place them on slippery ground; you cast them down to ruin. How suddenly are they destroyed, completely swept away by terrors!” (Ps. 73: 2-5, 16-19). 

When we have the mind of Messiah the Holy Spirit leads us in peace and the knowledge of His will. What is worthy to think on is enumerated in scripture, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Philippians 4: 8). It’s true and there are so many of these evidences of God’s mercy and goodness that we can contemplate and appreciate. Yeshua is the supreme being in the universe and His words and deeds could fill the earth according to John 21: 25. Yeshua said, “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.” (Matt. 13: 31-32). I believe the Kingdom is advancing more than we can see. God is drawing people to Himself more than ever, especially in countries that try to suppress the truth. “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” (Luke 1: 32-33). Praise God.

Love’s View

At one time or another we picture God as far away in heaven viewing down upon the earth as though it is an insignificant speck in creation. God is high and lifted up ruler above all, but He demonstrated His true nature of love through Yeshua. “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;  rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2: 6-8). Yeshua, was sent and came to save the lost, to redeem mankind, and to bear the burden of sin. “He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.” (1 Peter 2: 24). Yeshua brought a message of forgiveness and He healed many telling them, “Your sins are forgiven.” God wanted relationship with man to be restored, He gave His one and only son in order to redeem a people for Himself. “And they sang a new song, saying: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.’ ” (Revelation 5: 9). 

God is not distant looking down indifferent to the distress in this world. He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, so He still sees as did Yeshua, up close with mercy, forgiveness and love. He is the shepherd of His people. “He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.” (Isaiah 40: 11). God is compassionate and rich in mercy, He does not turn away from those in need or despise the weak, lowly, or outcasts of society. He experienced every hardship, injustice, hatred, betrayal, rejection, violence, and evil that man inflicts upon one another.  “He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53: 3-5). This is God Almighty, lover of our soul, and champion of our reclamation. He is Love and our response must be, “Yes and Amen, your Kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” 

Humility

This is the most powerful state of being for the Believer. It is the key to unlock the door of God’s will. Yeshua took on the form of a servant and humbled himself. He taught us, “The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Matthew 23: 11-12).

Scripture admonishes the Believer to follow Yeshua’s example. “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2: 5-11).

How is a humble posture maintained? What is meant by becoming a servant or exercising the obedience of humility. “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Matthew 6: 5-6). In faith we place all confidence in God and none in us or men. We do not consider only what is seen or let our natural reasoning guide us. The disciples often questioned Yeshua’s decisions and timing because they reasoned in the natural. (John 7: 4:6; 11: 6-10). The Holy Spirit leads the Believer into all truth.

Paul explained what the Lord said to him, ” ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”(2 Corinthians 12: 9-10). It is only possible to fully and completely follow the will of the Lord by exercising a selfless humility. “Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.’ ” (Matthew 16: 24-25). This concept is central and essential to discipleship. Following the direction of the Lord will usually be counter to our rational analysis. It may cost your reputation in this world. It may require you to go and do what you never thought to do. You will be setting yourself against the majority, the educated and esteemed, the ruling class in this world, and you will be considered strange, odd, eccentric or weird, as to this world’s standards. Every Believer will be required to lay down in humility the most precious and dear aspect of their own self image. Just as Yeshua called the rich young ruler to give away his money, so he calls each of us to give our most cherished attribute. It could be beauty, intellect, esteem, fame, influence, skill, talent, athleticism, money, family reputation, even our rights. Have you ever heard the adage, “You have to stand up for yourself” – it’s a worldly lie. We tend to defend ourselves, particularly when we are falsely accused, when the credit due us is not acknowledged or worse, given to another. That is pride, which raises itself continually unless it is rejected through the submission of humility. When we place all on the altar to Yeshua, God’s attributes will take their place in our surrendered life and the hidden life of the Spirit will transform everything. It’s a daily activity, but a small thing to enable the power, peace, and presence of God to be released in and through us.

God On Earth

“Walk about Zion, go around her, count her towers, consider well her ramparts, view her citadels, that you my tell of them to the next generation. For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end.” (Psalm 48: 12-14).

God is present among His people and they have access to Him. The unseen world is more vast than the universe which will one day be rolled up as a scroll to make way for heaven. We know this by the Spirit who gives understanding of God’s Word. God gives good things to His people, the congregation of Believers. He brings forth words of encouragement set in song. The Holy Spirit aligns hearts, minds, and voices in praise and worship. Spiritual communication is through relationship with Yeshua in the innermost being. Yeshua said, “He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.” (John 16: 14-15).

These evidences of the Spirit are like wind rustling leaves and branches, bending the slender trunks with its force, marking His leading. (John 3:8). The repercussions leave change, hope, stir up righteousness, and release all the good there is in life. It’s like the rain that drives against walls, washing and softening the dry earth restoring fertility. Every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father in whom there is no shade or shadow. His work goes on bringing about, carrying along, driving behind, drawing all things forward to Himself. (Psalms 139: 1-12). 

It was God’s idea to fashion a living temple were He would be pleased to dwell. The building bricks were fashioned after His own image. God’s house is living by His Spirit presence that resides in each living spiritual stone. God living in a temple that lives in Him. “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?” (1 Cor. 3: 16). “As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him—you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 2: 4-5). The whole earth could not contain God Almighty, but the living God dwells in the living temple of His people. God has not abandoned His creation and He is near to all who call on Him. (Ps. 145: 18).

What the Bible Says

I was visiting my ninety-seven year old father-in-law and he was telling me about the old man who was cutting his lawn at that time. He interjected, “He speaks in Jibber-jabber.” I paused offering a quizzical expression, to which he added, “We used to call them Holy Rollers.” I just said, “Oh”, as there are few things to discuss with a ninety-seven year old, but afterwards I wondered what would have been his reply if I had asked, “Did you know that speaking in tongues or heavenly inspired language is in the Bible?” It is not worth talking about things which others have already decided apart from the facts. Moreover, the gifts of the Spirit are distributed by the Spirit as He determines. (1 Cor. 12: 11). If one does not have a particular gift it may be very difficult for them to accept that anyone has such a gift. I know people who do not believe in many clear teachings of scripture because they have not experienced what is taught there in. It’s like what Yeshua said to Thomas, “…blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” (John 20: 29). The Apostle Paul did not believe Yeshua was the prophesied Messiah, until he was confronted by Yeshua himself, though as a Pharisee he must have been well aware of the Scriptures. 

The issue of spiritual gifts is rather mystical because they are Spiritual, consequently a purely rational or mental reasoning will not produce a working knowledge or understanding of the Holy Spirit. I once asked a minister friend about the Holy Spirit and His reply was, “It’s the third part of the Godhead.” He had very little personal  experience regarding the Spiritual life, though he was a true Believer and I do not doubt his Faith in God, nor do I offer any judgment regarding his service to God. We speak of what we know. (John 3: 11). Another scripture that is simply tossed aside for some strange reason has to do specifically with the organization of the church. “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues….Now eagerly desire the greater gifts…”. (1 Corinthians 12: 27-28, 31). 

A case could be made that Yeshua selected and appointed twelve apostles and that was the end of the office of apostles when they died. There could be apostles in our day, some leaders have proclaimed themselves apostles. Prophets are the second office in the Church and they are ignored even by those who recognize the gift of prophecy. David Wilkerson is the only prophet I know who held such an office in the church, but he was also a gifted teacher and evangelist. Teachers are the third office in the church and they have taken precedence over the entire church organization. Why is this? Is it scriptural? What would be the consequences of following the scriptural model provided.

What about the remaining giftings, where do they fit in?

I believe natural reasoning of a worldly mind has been given precedence in the church and seminaries because the Spirit is easily quenched and the Spiritual life is one of surrender and submission to the the Holy Spirit, whereas human reason, effort, striving, and argument come from pride which is opposed to humility, the way of the Lord, Yeshua Messiah. We all experience this struggle of pride verses humility within ourselves. Can you say in your life that humility has most often prevailed? If so, you probably are advanced in the Spiritual life. Also, you are probably a nobody in this world, and perhaps in the church. Yet, if you have combined love with humility, you will be great in the Kingdom of God.

The scriptures provide a glimpse of what a Spirit lead and organized church would be like. “So if the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues, and inquirers or unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your mind? But if an unbeliever or an inquirer comes in while everyone is prophesying, they are convicted of sin and are brought under judgment by all, as the secrets of their hearts are laid bare. So they will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, ‘God is really among you!’ ” (1 Cor. 14: 23-25). Like I said, we all struggle and fail too much, but the Lord will save us by His great grace, likewise he will save all Believers, even those that have given in to much worldly thinking. Yeshua alone is the judge and we have no authority to judge anyone, particularly the servant of another. What I’m encouraging is to believe every word of God, act on it, seek humility, love and the Spiritual life in Yeshua. Accept every good gift God offers in this life and the next, it requires faith alone.

The Thwarting of the Wicked

Treasures gained by wickedness do not profit, but righteousness delivers from death. The Lord does not let the righteous go hungry, but he thwarts the craving of the wicked. Proverbs 10:2-3.

For to the one who pleases him God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, but to the sinner he has given the business of gathering and collecting, only to give to one who pleases God. This also is vanity and a striving after wind. Ecclesiastes 2:26.

A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, but the sinner’s wealth is laid up for the righteous. Proverbs 13:22. 

And the Lord had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they let them have what they asked. Thus they plundered the Egyptians. Exodus 12:36.

I was watching the news recently and saw episodes of the Black Lives Matter hoodlums attacking people peacefully eating dinner, yelling to them that “if you do not give us our stuff (insert curse word here), We will shut this down.” They proceeded to trash the restaurant and run the patrons off in fear. There are other scenes of the same type people looting and trashing and burning buildings and stores in some of the cities that will not let the police enforce the law. This is disturbing to watch but it is comforting to know that the wicked will not find satisfaction in their plunder. Their desires will be thwarted by God. William McCain in his commentary on Proverbs stated that “The wicked are condemned to live forever with their unfulfilled, and so sterile, desires, which cannot be transformed into practical attainment.”

In many cases God even allows the accumulated wealth of the wicked to be kept in reserve for the righteous and find their way into their hands just when they are needed. The most famous example of this is when the Children of Israel were finally let go by Pharaoh after the plagues and God caused the Egyptians to let them have of their riches, anything they asked for. Part of these riches were later used to build the Tabernacle. Also the Canaanites had possession of the Promised Land until the appointed time for Israel to occupy it. Conversely, the one who pleases God will be given wisdom and knowledge and joy, more valuable riches then silver and gold.

The Scriptures point to a moral order in the midst of all the disorder in the world. The righteous will not be forsaken and the wicked will not prosper and will ultimately disappear. “Those who trust in the Lord will possess the land, but the wicked will be driven out. Soon the wicked will disappear; you may look for them, but you won’t find them.” Psalm 37:9-10. God is sovereign and always protects the interests of the righteous. As Christians, we can take comfort in this.

 

Give Me Jesus

The Hiding Place, by Corrie ten Boom is one of my favorite books and movies. My friend likes it perhaps more than I and we have had great fellowship discussing its lessons of God’s love in the midst of horrific unjust circumstances. I have walked in the courtyard at Yad Vashem where a tree memorializes the ten Booms and Oscar Schindler, among others, who are honored as friends of Israel. Loving one’s enemies, laying one’s life down for others is the teaching of Yeshua, which He demonstrated so perfectly. These acts are folly to the worldly mind, but they express and evidence faith and love of God above all else. 

Scripture says, “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?’ ” (Hebrews 13: 5-6). It seems that the Lord’s presence is as precious and powerful as determined by a ranking of all the other things that reside in our heart. When Corrie and her sister, Betsy, were in the Nazi concentration camp, every aspect of a normal life was taken away, but their faith and love could not be taken away. The promises and presence of God became miraculous and though Betsie died as a Saint in the camp, Corrie was released through a clerical error, to tell the amazing story of their lives and share the good news of Yeshua all around the world.

It is my belief that when we increase the value, yearning or necessity of Yeshua’s presence, over and above other desires such as, pleasure, comfort, entertainment, power, fame, influence, etc., then we will experience more of His presence. Yeshua said, “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Luke 11: 9-10). It is not necessary to be imprisoned to exalt or earnestly seek the presence of God. During this covid-19 quarantine, isolation can be trying, particularly if resources become scarce, but the promises of God remain as faithful as ever. Scripture says, “Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded….Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” (James 4: 8, 10). When we earnestly seek God He responds because He loves us and wants a relationship. The things of this world and/or our worldly thinking can crowd out our devotion to God’s Word, Spirit, and presence. Lord Yeshua, help us get the attitude expressed in the song lyrics, “You can have all this world, Give me Jesus”.

New Life

Perhaps the most current, tangible, widespread and ongoing evidence of the truth and power contained in the message of the Bible is the transformation experienced by every believer. It is described therein, by Yeshua Himself in a conversation with Nicodemus, a zealous religious leader who admitted to Yeshua, ” ‘Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.’ Jesus replied, ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.’ ” (John 3: 2-3). In this verbal exchange Yeshua expounds on the transformation that begins with being born again, even as Nicodemus expresses his failure to understand each aspect disclosed to him. Nicodemus was himself a teacher who should have understood that certain realities can only be understood in their conceptual framework. For example, Truth, Love, Faith, and Courage, can not be picked up and handled or dismantled physically. Even certain physical aspects of nature require conceptual analysis, such as air, gasses, gravity, and light. Therefore, undergoing a spiritual birth, being “born again”, is real albeit intangible. The Believer understands through experience it is as though you become a new person. (2 Cor. 5: 17).

Next, Yeshua touches upon the promise foretold in scripture. “Jesus answered, ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.’ ” (v. 5). This spiritual infusion was prophesied by Ezekiel, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36: 26). John the Baptist preached this message about the coming of the Messiah and alerted Israel at that time that the prophecy would be fulfilled by Yeshua. (John 1: 33). When a believer is filled with the Holy Spirit there is a new dimension of power and life released within by the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Yeshua illustrated to Nicodemus what the Spirit-filled life was like, replying, “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” The Spirit moves within, upon, and around the Believer in a mysterious unseen manner, but with effect and demonstration. An explosion of vision, understanding and authority come with the Spirit’s presence. The scriptures are filled with acts, (tangible and intangible), directed, accomplished, and explained by the dynamic release of Holy Spirit among the congregation of Believers. Yeshua said, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1: 8).

Finally, Yeshua explained how these characteristics of Salvation’s work upon the Believer would be inconceivable to the world and the lost soul. He said, “Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony.” (v. 11). It is virtually impossible to describe light to a person who has never seen. However, there is hope for every living person, because today still remains the “Day of Salvation”. It appears that the Nicodemus story ends well as he defended Yeshua, brought spices for his burial and it was mentioned that many of the leaders subsequently became believers. It’s not suprising that a sincere encounter with the Supreme, Son of God, King of Kings, Messiah would result in blessing and a life changing event – it happened to me.

Study the Bible With Kelly

I wanted to announce that our own Kelly Foster has started a new Youtube channel, “Study the Bible With Kelly”. The first video can be accessed at this address – https://youtu.be/okN6CWV4Mgo. Simply insert this address into your search to find. Please support this channel for sound biblical teaching and subscribe if you like it.

How Yeshua Looked

There are no images or specific description of Yeshua, but the Bible tells us something about His countenance. “He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.” (Isaiah 53: 2-3). He was not handsome with attractive looks. He would not have been a TV or movie personality with pleasing desirous features. He was a man of suffering and familiar with pain, sorrow, rejection, held in low esteem because of the burden of rejection and despising. We know that He had no money, house, or fine clothes to enhance His appearance. 

Yeshua said of Himself, “I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” (John 17: 26). Yeshua’s mission was to reveal Father God and He accomplished this through words and deeds, but it may be that He was able to convey truth and meaning through His expression, gaze, and in His face. This is fundamental communication in human relationship. One example is a man who asked Yeshua what he needed to do to inherit eternal life? “Jesus looked at him and loved him. ‘One thing you lack,’ he said. ‘Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’ At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.” (Mark 10: 21-22). Yeshua was the greatest communicator of all, His words expressed so much more and cut to the heart of every issue, question and contrived trap. His words transcend time speaking clearly and effectively today, dividing between spirit and soul.

Yeshua expressed emotions of anger, joy and wept with empathy, He was both fully human and devine. Yeshua was a Jew descended from king David of the tribe of Judah, so he likely had Hebrew coloring and features. The disciples saw in Yeshua His devine nature through faith. “Philip found Nathanael and told him, ‘We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.’ ” (John 1: 45). “Then Nathanael declared, ‘Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.’ Jesus said, ‘You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.’ He then added, ‘Very truly I tell you, you will see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man’ .” (John 1: 49-51).  “Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ Jesus replied, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.’ ” (Matt. 16: 16-17). Yeshua’s demonstrated authority, power, and miracles also revealed His devine appearance and the disciples were witnesses.

To Believers down through history, Peter says it best, “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1: 8-9). 

Highest Evangelical Outreach

Just recently, Alice Johnson was pardoned and released from prison and gave a stirring speech thanking God and President Trump. She said that her time in prison was not wasted and that God knew her name. Many prisoners come to faith while incarcerated. You might be surprised at this, but it’s true. God is working in prisons throughout the world. It is so true that the world coined a term to mock it, “Jailhouse Religion”. God loves prisoners and captives. In the Bible He said, “Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.” (Hebrews 13:3). Of course, many of the Apostles and early followers of Yeshua (Jesus’ Hebrew name) were imprisoned for their faith. Paul referred to himself as the “Lord’s prisoner”. The Lord proclaimed His ministry, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18-19).

Across the world many are unjustly imprisoned for their faith or as, so called, political prisoners. Communists and dictators fear the gospel message of Yeshua because He offers freedom from the fear of man, from the fear of physical death and from the snares and control of the enemy, just to mention a few. Of course, there are those who have been incarcerated for their crimes, but these too are especially loved by God, because their imprisonment is an awakening event, often preventing impending death. I have worked with prisoners for over twelve years and many have confirmed these exact circumstances. God speaks to prisoners who seek help, understanding, lovingkindness, truth, purpose and life. Moreover, many have never heard the message of Yeshua in a complete and correct manner; in prison they have time and opportunity. Yeshua said, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:10)  

It’s not that God loves prisoners more than anyone else, but many recognize their need for Him while in prison. Those who are law abiding and have no problems or pressing need often ignore God and reject the message of Yeshua. If you have any opportunity to reach out to prisoners you will find that God is there before you and He is doing everything He said He would, including transforming lives of men and women, whom a worldly society has forgotten.

World History (Or a Part Distinctly Unique)

Deuteronomy Chapter Four can only be described as such, because it denotes the basis for civilization, God’s law; the centrality of Israel as God’s chosen nation, inseparably including, Yeshua Messiah, and the believers who through Him are part of Israel; prophecy regarding the future redemption of Israel, their dispersion and regathering into the land, forever theirs, and the nature of idolatry and it’s ramification of arousing God’s righteous anger, and finally, unique insights into the past, future and hidden nature of God revealed on earth. All of this is included in Moses summary, exhortation and epitaph to those standing there in the Middle Eastern wilderness around six thousand years ago, yet miraculously recorded and preserved for us today. I think you must read it for yourself. I would love to elaborate on each element of my summary above, though your attention and mine in this venue can not permit. Here are the gems uncut but sparkling with light.

• “What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to him? And what other nation is so great as to have such righteous decrees and laws as this body of laws I am setting before you today?” (v. 7-8).

• “Then the Lord spoke to you out of the fire. You heard the sound of words but saw no form; there was only a voice. He declared to you his covenant, the Ten Commandments, which he commanded you to follow and then wrote them on two stone tablets.” (v. 12-13).

• “And when you look up to the sky and see the sun, the moon and the stars—all the heavenly array—do not be enticed into bowing down to them and worshiping things the Lord your God has apportioned to all the nations under heaven. But as for you, the Lord took you and brought you out of the iron-smelting furnace, out of Egypt, to be the people of his inheritance, as you now are.” (v. 19-20).

• “Be careful not to forget the covenant of the Lord your God that he made with you; do not make for yourselves an idol in the form of anything the Lord your God has forbidden. For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.” (v. 23-24).

• “The Lord will scatter you among the peoples, and only a few of you will survive among the nations to which the Lord will drive you. But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul. When you are in distress and all these things have happened to you, then in later days you will return to the Lord your God and obey him.” (v. 27-30).

• “For the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your ancestors, which he confirmed to them by oath. Ask now about the former days, long before your time, from the day God created human beings on the earth; ask from one end of the heavens to the other. Has anything so great as this ever happened, or has anything like it ever been heard of? Has any other people heard the voice of God speaking out of fire, as you have, and lived? Has any god ever tried to take for himself one nation out of another nation, by testings, by signs and wonders, by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, or by great and awesome deeds, like all the things the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your very eyes? You were shown these things so that you might know that the Lord is God; besides him there is no other.” (v. 31-35).

• “Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other. Keep his decrees and commands, which I am giving you today, so that it may go well with you and your children after you and that you may live long in the land the Lord your God gives you for all time.” (v. 39-40). 

The fulfilled prophecy in this chapter is a powerful testimony of God. The revelation of God’s lovingkindness, character, and nature is astounding and glorious. The message of encouragement is moving and powerful. Open your heart, mind and innermost being to the only wise Almighty God, to Him be glory forever through Yeshua Messiah! Amen