Do You Know Why You Believe?

Are you a Believer? Do you believe in God as the creator of the Universe and Judge of the world? Do you believe that Jesus (Yeshua) is the Messiah God promised to send to the Jewish people, who also made salvation available to both Jews and Gentiles, alike? Do you believe that Yeshua is the son of God and that he will return to establish his kingdom and eternally rule over all the Earth?

You do? That’s good! Now for one more question…do you know why you believe this?

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Maybe I should start with an easier question? How about this: do you know why I am asking if you know why you believe?

I grew up believing Jesus Christ is not the Messiah the Jews have been waiting for, and that he was a traitor to Judaism and created Christianity, which either wants to convert Jews or kill them. And after believing this for more than 40 years of my life, when I started to question why I believed it the answer came to me.

I believed it because I was told to believe it.

I have met many Christians, both “Born Again” and mainstream, all of whom believe Jesus Christ is the son of God (Christianity seems to stay away from the title “Messiah”) and that if they are a good person they will get to go to heaven. When I have asked them why they believe this to be true, their answer often comes down to “because it’s true.”

Frankly, that’s not much of an answer, is it? That answer means they believe because they have been told to believe. They have not really accepted Jesus as their personal savior, or as the Messiah which he was sent to the Earth to be, or even as a real person. He is just “Jesus”, you know, that guy on the cross at the front of the church.  Many Believers (Born Again or not doesn’t matter) don’t know the Bible, they don’t know about Jesus’s Jewish roots, they don’t even know that he is not the one who created the dogma, tradition, holidays, doctrine or rhetoric that they have had forced down their gullet their whole lives!

They believe in Jesus as their savior because they have been raised to believe in Jesus as their savior, just as I was raised to reject Jesus as my savior.

So let’s go back to the original question: why do YOU believe?

Is it because you want to be in heaven? Not good enough- the Enemy will promise you heaven on earth, and ask you why wait until you are dead? If heaven is your reason for believing, then you will be turned from the truth.

Do you believe because your parents, grandparents, friends, and acquaintances all believe? Then you are just another sheep in the fold, following blindly and being led to slaughter.

Do you believe because you have read the Bible- the entire Bible from Genesis through Revelation- and after praying to God for guidance and discernment have come to your own conclusion that Yeshua/Jesus is the Messiah God promised to send to the Jews, DID send to the Jews and then through the Apostles was made available to the Gentiles? Is your belief based on your own choice, not dependent on anyone else’s choice?

If your answer is “Yes, I choose to believe in Jesus as my Messiah!” then you are in good shape. Your faith in him is firm and you will not easily be led astray because your faith is founded on your own choice.

My faith is strong because not only did I choose to accept Yeshua as my Messiah, but because I felt like I had to betray some 5,700+ years of Jewish ancestry to do it. My choice to accept Yeshua came before I even understood the truth of his teachings or the fact that modern Christianity is mostly from Constantine and Gentile misinterpretation. What I had always been told to believe was created by Jesus, when I decided to find out for myself, I found out that it wasn’t. And when I learned the truth, my choice to believe was confirmed, my feeling of betrayal was wiped away forever, and my faith has become rooted in cement.

And beyond that, my choice to believe has been confirmed by the many blessings I have received after I chose to believe, which I KNOW are from God and a reward for my faithfulness.

What you need to do, no matter how strong you believe your faith is in God and Jesus, is to look into the mirror and ask yourself, “Why do I believe in Jesus, really?”  Pretend someone is attacking your faith and you have to tell them why you accept Jesus as the Messiah. And if you can’t come up with justification you can show is based in the Bible, in your life experience, or in your own personal study, then you need to re-evaluate your faith. You need to realize that maybe, just maybe, you haven’t really chosen to accept Yeshua on your own. Maybe your acceptance is nothing more than just going along with the crowd and you don’t really know where you are going?

That is a dangerous position to be in. So please!- ask yourself why you believe, and if the answer is anything like “because” or “I guess I always have” or “I don’t know- I just do” then you are in trouble, and your salvation is unsure because your faith is not your own.

The only true faith is the one you choose to have, and if you haven’t made the choice to accept Yeshua/Jesus as your Messiah totally on your own, then you don’t really believe in anything.

Thank you for being here, please share me out to your friends and family and subscribe.

Also, please check out my Gofundme campaign to help send Bibles and prayer shawls to three rural Ugandan Messianic Synagogues. So far we have only raised $175 of the $650 we need- if everyone reading this message gave only $10 we would have enough money to help these Believers, who have chosen to believe despite the religious persecution in that country. Here is a link to that site:

Ugandan Messianic Synagogues

I will be out of the country on a family trip to Ireland all next week and will not be posting again until the end of this month, so until then L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

 

Something I Have Learned

Before I even start, let me say that this is what I have learned for myself- it may not be right for you. If, after reading this, you disagree with what I am saying because you feel differently, that’s OK. I am not telling anyone what they should do or how they should feel, I am simply sharing what is right for me and if it seems right for you, that’s great.

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Let me give you a little background: I have had a lot of experience in the Financial world, from retail banking to processing securities to insurance and even to estate planning. When I was selling Revocable Living Trusts, I used to tell this to my customers after they had purchased a trust as a way to prepare them for when their children tell them they have to cancel it. I would say:

…when your children were very young, they thought that you both knew everything about everything; when they became teenagers, they thought they knew everything about everything, and now that they are adults and you are senior citizens they think you don’t know anything about anything. But you do know what you are doing, and you have just made a good decision based on knowledge of what you have purchased, so hold fast to your decision.

This is what we in the Sales world call the “Cool Down”- it is absolutely necessary after a sale, especially for a big ticket item. It helps people to avoid making a real mistake, which is to cancel the deal simply because someone who doesn’t have any idea of what they are talking about only saw the dollar signs.

What’s all this got to do with God, the Bible, Yeshua or salvation? It lays the foundation for my message today, which is that most of the times what we believe about God and the Messiah is based on what someone tells us. And because this is about our eternal soul and where it will be, we need to discern what is good information and what information doesn’t help us at all.

Too many times I see people asking questions that lead us to nowhere, such as these actual conversations I have seen in discussion groups:

Who really wrote one of the Psalms?
What tribe am I from?
How do we pronounce the Tetragrammaton?
Is tithing only for a farmer?
When does the Sabbath really begin?
Why are pigs unclean and cows are not?

and other such questions.

I ask you- will knowing the answer to any of these questions save you from death? Will knowing the answers make you more “saved” than someone who doesn’t know the answer? Is anyone saved by knowledge alone?

Here is what I have learned from my 20+ years as a Believer: faith is not caring why something is the way it is but just accepting that it is that way. Knowledge is a two-edged sword: it can help us to better understand God, but the pursuit of in-depth knowledge to prove why something is what we are told will lead us away from faithful acceptance because “proof” is the antithesis of faith.

Here are the answers I have for the questions posed above:

It doesn’t matter who wrote the psalms, they are still beautiful, and those that are Messianic prophecies are still valid.

No one can really know what tribe they are from, and it doesn’t matter because salvation is not based on heritage.

It doesn’t matter how to pronounce God’s Holy Name because we are saved by faith, not pronunciation. Besides, God knows who we are talking to when we pray.

Tithing is giving back to God, no matter what type of income you have.

The Sabbath begins on Friday night, and the moon phase in Israel doesn’t matter so long as on Friday evening you rest until Saturday evening.

Pigs are unclean and cows are not because God said they were…period.

I don’t care to know every single little detail about the Bible or to know Paleo-Hebrew or to be an expert in biblical exegesis. I only want to know what I need to know, and when other people start to tell me I should learn more, I respectfully say, “Thank you for your concern, but I know enough: I know who God is, I know who Yeshua is, and I know that my salvation is secured because of my faith in them and my obedience to their instructions.”

For the record, I am not always obedient, but that is an entirely different topic.

I am not saying we shouldn’t study the Bible- we must! We need to know God’s word and God’s instructions so that we can do as he tells us we should and also to be able to recognize the Enemy when he comes. These are important things to know!

Everything else is, to me, just fluff. It won’t make me any more “saved” than you, special knowledge won’t make me more important in heaven (this is part of what Gnosticism teaches), but what it will do (and I have seen this happen too often) is lead people into arguments that result in pridefulness, sinful attacks against brothers and sisters in the Lord, and confusion.

Read the Bible, stay away from extra-biblical works, unless they are specifically useful in helping to understand the Bible, such as commentaries or reference materials like the Interlinear Bible or Strong’s Concordance. And talk with people about salvation-related topics, but only those things that edify and teach people what they need to know.

How will we know which topics are useful and which are not? Only by discernment, and that comes from God. So when you pray, ask for discernment, for wisdom, and for patience when dealing with those who just have to know everything. I often see topics on Facebook that in my opinion are just ridiculous, so I ignore them. I also have seen people start conversations just to be able to argue with others- they don’t even care what is true or valid or important, they just want to argue.

Finally, let’s all remember what we are told in Proverbs 6: 16-19. The writer (and No!-I don’t care who wrote it) is saying there are 7 things that the Lord detests, and the last one (in 6:19) is this:

“…and him who sows strife among brothers.”

I don’t want to be someone the Lord detests because I have caused strife among my brothers and sisters.

I am open to discuss anything, but if the topic won’t help to save anyone or leads into an argument, I will simply state the answer doesn’t matter to me. God gave us each free will to decide what we will believe and what we will do, and we all will be held accountable for our decisions, no matter why we made them.

And that is my number one reason for basing my faith on the KISS rule.

Thank you for being here and please subscribe and share this message with others.

I am also running a campaign to send Bibles and Bible study materials to three Messianic synagogues in rural Uganda- please check out my Gofundme campaign at this address:

Help Ugandan Synagogues.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

 

 

 

Parashah Naso 2019 (Take) Numbers 4:21 – 7

Moses continues to outline the duties of the Levitical clans, which began in the last parashah. After having ordered each family of the Levites to perform their specific duties regarding the Tabernacle, Moses moves on to further outline how the camp is to be set up.

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The unclean were to be removed from within the camp and placed outside of it. This is to safeguard the ceremonial purity of the camp.

Next, Moses details the process for a husband who suspects his wife has been unfaithful to prove her faithful or adulterous. This involves providing a grain sacrifice and her drinking of special water, accompanied by the woman pronouncing a curse on herself if she has been unfaithful.

The instructions for taking the vow of a Nazarite are reviewed, and then in Chapter 6, verses 24-26 God tells us how he wants the Cohen HaGadol (High Priest) to bless the children of Israel, which we call the Aaronic Blessing. This is also used in Christian services, and it goes like this:

The Lord bless thee and keep thee;

The Lord make his face to shine upon thee, and be gracious to thee;

The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace. 

Each of the 12 tribes brings a gift for the tabernacle, which comes to a total of six covered wagons and 12 oxen. These were distributed to the Levitical families for their use in transporting the tabernacle.

The parashah ends with the people of Israel offering an additional gift, each tribe giving the exact same things in the exact same weight and number:

one silver dish and one silver basin, both filled with fine flour mingled with oil, one golden pan full of incense, one young bullock, one ram, and one he-lamb of the first year (for a burnt offering), one male goat for a sin offering, and 2 oxen, 5 rams, five male goats, and five male lambs all presented for a peace offering.

Each tribe presented their gift on a different day until all 11 tribes (Levites were excluded) had given their gifts.

Today I want to talk about the Aaronic (or Priestly) Blessing, which is so beautiful; it is both simple in its form yet complex in its meaning.

The prayer is composed of three short verses, of 3, 5, and 7 words (in the Hebrew), gradually asking first for material blessing, then a spiritual blessing, and finally for the ultimate gift from God- peace. Traditionally, the prayer is to be offered in Hebrew and only by a Priest.

As I have often stated, not all traditions are bad, and as far as this one goes I would have to say that within the Messianic community (which would include Christians who are “Born Again”) it would be OK for someone to ask a blessing from God for someone else, so long as they invoke the name of Messiah when they ask.

You see, the Jewish requirement for only a Priest to give the Aaronic Blessing is based on the need for the person offering the blessing to be not just sober, but also worshipful, faithful, ceremonially clean, and prayerful. For most people, this isn’t going to be their normal state of being.

However, for those that have accepted Yeshua as their Messiah and have the indwelling of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit), they should “measure up” to these standards. By also invoking the name of the Messiah, any shortcomings in their holiness would be offset, so to speak, through Yeshua’s intervention.

When I have served in the position of Rabbi or Cantor (although I am not officially ordained as either) in the houses of worship which I have attended over the years, I offered this prayer in Hebrew just as it is, not invoking the name of Yeshua. I also then repeated it in English for the benefit of those who didn’t know what the Hebrew meant. I do not believe that I was doing anything wrong by omitting “In the name of Yeshua, the Messiah” because at that time, I was in the position and authority of a Cohen. However, if I was asked to give this blessing to someone on the street, I might include a “B’shem Yeshua Ha Mashiach” at the end of it, just to be safe.

The Aaronic Blessing is both a prayer and a blessing because what we are really doing is requesting God to provide the things we specify; first, we cover material needs, then spiritual needs, and finally, we ask for God’s peace of body, mind, and spirit so that we can have complete joy.

In conclusion of today’s message, let me offer this blessing to you in the name of our Messiah, Yeshua (click on the link and make sure your audio is not muted):

Aaronic Blessing

 

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I need your help in providing Bible study materials to three Messianic Synagogues in rural Uganda- please check out my funding campaign here: Help for Ugandan Messianic Synagogues.

Tonight begins Shabbat, so Shabbat Shalom, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

What is the Talmud, Really?

The Talmud is a wonderful book of Jewish wisdom and biblical exegesis. Wikipedia describes it this way:

The Talmud has two components; the Mishnah (c. year 200 CE), a written compendium of Rabbinic Judaism’s Oral Torah; and the Gemara (circa year 500 CE), an elucidation of the Mishnah and related Tannaitic writings that often ventures onto other subjects and expounds broadly on the Hebrew Bible.

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The origin of the Talmud begins with the origin of the Torah- both were given to Moses on Mount Sinai, the difference being that the Torah was written down and the Talmud was passed down orally. Within Judaism, the Talmud is extensively used by the Orthodoxy and is often given more importance than the Torah, itself. The study of Talmud starts at about the same age as the study of Torah, between 6 and 9 years of age, and the Talmud is considered to be scripture by many Orthodox Jews.

The Mishna is where we get Halacha (The Way to Walk), which are the rabbinic rules that Jews live by. These are traditional activities that stem from the rabbinic interpretation of how we are to follow the laws God gave in the Torah. For example, the Torah tells us to treat animals humanely and which animals we can use for sacrifice, but nowhere in the Torah does it tell us how to humanely kill the animal. The Talmud explains how to perform the Shechitah, which is the traditional way to kill the sacrifice: it is quick, nearly painless and very humane. This is just one example of how the Talmud “fills in the gaps” in the Torah regarding the manner in which we are to live according to God’s instructions.

The Talmud is, as I stated above, a wonderful book. But it is not scripture, and here is the simplest proof I have of that- God’s word never changes; it is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. However, within the Talmud, you would be hard pressed to find any two opinions that match.
Here is a sample of a page from the Talmud:

This page has at its heart the Torah, which is surrounded by rabbinic interpretation and commentary, which is itself surrounded by other rabbinic interpretation and commentary.  At one point in Jewish history, there were two schools of Talmudic interpretation: the House of Shammai and the House of Hillel. They both lived during the time of Messiah, being born in the last century BCE and dying sometime in the first century CE.  Their two “houses” had very different thoughts, but together have been critical in the shaping of the understanding of Talmud, today.

Now, let’s get back to the original question: what is the Talmud, really?  The Talmud, really, is a commentary on the Torah. That’s it.

It starts with what God tells us in the Torah then expands and expounds on it, telling us what the Rabbi making the commentary believes the Torah portion he is interpreting really means, and how we should go about living that instruction in our daily life.

There are many other things in the Talmud, as well. There is mythology, superstitions, and demonology. Some examples of the superstitious traditions within Judaism that come from the Talmud are the breaking of the glass when getting married, spitting three times when hearing bad news, and placing salt in the corner or rooms and pockets to ward off evil spirits.

The main purpose of the Talmud is to help us follow God’s instructions properly, and that is, in my opinion, its saving grace. Despite the traditions it creates, the superstitious activities and the confusion, it is a good book to have and to study in order to better understand the Jewish mindset. And the wisdom of the Elders that it contains is of immeasurable use for all those who want to understand both Jews and God better.

The Talmud is an important book, full of wisdom and tradition which define the Jewish mindset and lifestyle. Use it for your Bible study and to better understand the basis of the traditions of Judaism; respect the wisdom and ignore the drek.

In the end, though, the Talmud is a nothing more than a commentary and, as such, must be taken with a grain of salt: you can use some of the salt in your pocket.

Thank you for being here, and please share me out to your friends and family. Subscribe to the website and my YouTube channel, and please don’t hesitate to comment on what I say: all I ask is that you be nice.

Also please check out the Gofundme campaign I am currently running to help send Bibles, prayer shawls and Bible study materials to three Messianic Synagogues in rural Uganda. Here is the link:
Help Messianic Ugandans

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Choose to Believe

All through my early years, I felt that something was missing when I went to Shul on Shabbat or for the High Holy Days services. I recited the prayers but always wondered why I needed to speak to God using someone else’s words. Couldn’t I pray to God from my heart? Why did I have to repeat what someone else wrote in order to have God hear me?

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In 1996, after having gone through multiple issues in my life, including a failed business resulting in personal bankruptcy, then a failed marriage, I decided that it was time to make up my mind about God, and this Jesus guy I had heard so much about, both good (from friends who were saved) and bad (from every Jewish person I ever knew.)

God helped in that he sent people with spiritual maturity who understood how hard it is for a Jewish person to hear about Jesus, and when someone gave me a Messianic Bible with the entire New Covenant bold-printed where it quoted from the Old Covenant (which was on every single page), I began to realize that what I had been taught about Jesus, who is really this Jewish guy named Yeshua, was all wrong.

In 1997, I decided I would accept that Yeshua is the Messiah, but praying to him (as most of the Christians I knew did) just didn’t seem right, and I was still uneasy with the whole idea, so I chose to be faithful. I remembered once hearing that if you smile, even if you are sad, just by smiling you will become happier. I thought, “Maybe this can work with prayer, as well?” so I started to pray to God, just as if I was a “true” Believer, and I also looked for a place to worship.

As with praying to Jesus, going to a church just didn’t seem right- I am Jewish, and Jews don’t go to church, so I went to the best source for finding things- the Yellow Pages. As I looked through it I came upon an entry that said “Messianic Synagogue”; there were two of them in my area, so I chose the one closest, called the Rabbi and made an appointment with him.

The synagogue was called Beth Emanuel, and I started to go there on Shabbat. It was VERY different than any synagogue I had ever been in. After attending for three months or so, I still hadn’t had any “revelation” or “divine intervention” in my life, and I was still waiting to be swept up in the Spirit or to have a miraculous intervention, as others I talked with had happened to them. Finally, at the end of one of the Shabbat services, the Rabbi asked anyone who wanted prayer to come forth. I went up and when he placed the oil on my head, I felt the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) enter my body. Really!  I felt it, a wisp of air (the proper translation of “Ruach” is “breath”) and a physical sensation of being totally ethereal came over me.

It wasn’t until much later that I realized my choice to believe was the leap of faith which God recognized and rewarded with his gift of his indwelling Spirit. I chose to reject what I had been told by my Elders and respected teachers my whole life and decided for myself what I would believe in. That was not so much a decision as it was a choice. I chose to be faithful, I chose to believe, and because my faith is based on a choice, I believe it is stronger than someone who believes based only on a miraculous event.

How can I say that? Isn’t a miracle more powerful than a choice? Well, maybe. But I believe someone who has been influenced by a miracle can be influenced by another miracle. In other words, if a miraculous event in my life made me believe in something, then another miraculous event could change my mind.

And we know that the Antichrist will perform many miraculous events.

I was not influenced by a miracle- I chose to believe. And because I am quick to make decisions and slow to change them (this is, according to Napoleon Hill, an indicator of good leadership), it will take more than just a miracle to convince me I should worship anyone other than the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, or accept anyone else as his Messiah other than Yeshua.

No one, no matter what they tell me or what miracle they perform, will change my mind.

This is why we must all learn the Bible, so that we know who God is and what he expects from us, and will be able to recognize his teachings and instructions when we hear them. The Son of Perdition will not teach God’s ways- oh, he may start that way, but he will change.  It is when that subtle change occurs that those who know the true meaning of God’s instructions and who have chosen to worship God will not be fooled into apostatizing.

Why do you believe in God and the Messiah? Is it because you are afraid of going to hell? That’s not enough reason to keep you from following the Enemy.

Is it because you want to be loved and accepted? That will be a stumbling block to you and you will be lured into accepting the Enemy’s lies because he will tell you how wonderful you are and all the rewards you will receive for following him.

Is it because you have been told you have to? If you believe because that is how you were raised, then you have no root in the Messiah or God. You may be a “good (whatever)” but your faith is rootless and when the Enemy comes, you will be told to believe in him. And, since that is how you have been trained to believe, you will accept his mark because all your life you have been told what to do and who to follow and how to follow him, without ever choosing for yourself.

The Enemy is powerful and he knows human weaknesses. The way not to be fooled is to know God’s instructions and to worship God because you want to! You must believe because you CHOOSE to believe, otherwise your faith is weak and the roots of your salvation are spread thin in loose soil.

Review your reasons for believing and make sure that it is your choice. And then choose not to believe anyone else. Faith is strongest when we are certain of our choice, and I believe that once you choose to accept God as your God, and Yeshua as your Messiah, then the miraculous events will come to you, and they will not be something to make you believe, but to confirm your choice.

Thank you for being here and please subscribe and share me out to all your friends and family.

Currently, I am trying to raise funds to send prayer shawls, Messianic Bibles and copies of my published books (which they have requested) to three Messianic Synagogues who are subscribers to my ministry and live in a rural part of Uganda. Here is the link to my GoFundMe campaign for this- please help these new Believers who are so poor they don’t even have computers or even Internet access:

Help Ugandan Believers

 

Thank you, again, and please don’t hesitate to comment…just be nice.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!