Grace isn’t Forgiveness

Too often I hear people talking about grace as if it is synonymous with forgiveness, and forgiveness as if it is synonymous with mercy.  It isn’t, and they aren’t.

If you prefer to watch a video, click on this link: Watch the video.

Grace is the way God shows his love for us. The best form of grace we have is that God sent Yeshua the Messiah to make a way for us to be able to avoid the punishment we all deserve.

Grace isn’t mercy, either. Mercy is nothing more than a reduction in the severity of some action, such as being punished. For example, we may be eligible for 10 years of hard labor, but a merciful punishment will take into account extenuating circumstances and maybe reduce the time to 5 years. Mercy doesn’t absolve us from punishment, it simply makes the punishment less severe.

Forgiveness is not grace or mercy- it is the removal of guilt. When we do something wrong, we are guilty and forgiveness removes that guilt. On a spiritual level, it allows us to come back into communion with God. On a physical level, it can allow a relationship to be restored, either fully or partially.

Forgiveness does not automatically absolve us from the consequences of what we did wrong. In the physical world, we almost always will have to face the consequence of our sin, whether forgiven or not; however, in the spiritual realm, when God forgives our sin it means our guilt against God is removed, meaning there will be no eternal consequences.

Grace is what God feels because he loves us so much, and because of his grace he will have mercy on us when we do wrong, and when we accept Yeshua as our Messiah, through him God will forgive our sins and remove our guilt.

So, in a nutshell, here is how it works: God’s mercy results in people being punished less than they deserve for their sins, and his forgiveness is available to remove our guilt when we accept the ultimate form of his grace, which is Yeshua the Messiah.

Any questions?

Thank you for being here. Please subscribe and share this out if you like what you have read. I welcome your comments and look forward to the next time we are together.

Until then, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

 

 

Faith is Only the Beginning

We are saved by faith…how many times have you heard that said? When you hear it, do you ever think “Am I really faithful?”

I do. Every day I try to be more faithful, but what does that mean, really?

If you prefer to watch a video, click on this link: Watch the video.

Is being faithful believing in God? Is it enough to believe he exists and that the Bible accurately describes him and all he has done? That is not enough- every demon from hell has seen him on his throne and was there when he created everything. And they’re not saved.

Does it mean believing that Yeshua is the Messiah? Yes, that is necessary, but that’s not enough (again) because every demon from hell doesn’t just believe Yeshua is the Messiah, they know it…absolutely! They have seen him and they know he is God’s son. But they’re not saved.

So, nu?  If believing in God and Yeshua as the Messiah isn’t enough, what do I have to do to be “faithful” enough to be saved?

The answer was given to us two millennia ago when Yacov (James) wrote in his letter to the Messianic Jews in the Diaspora that faith without works is dead.

James notes that Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness not only because he believed what God told him, but because he acted on it! Abraham took his belief to the next, and necessary step to be faithful, by doing what God told him to do. His belief wasn’t just passive, it was active and demonstrated by his actions.

You may say, “But God knows the heart, and if I really want to be good and if I fail, God will know and forgive me.”

I have heard this from people more than a few times, and I worry for them because they are, without realizing it, telling God what he will do. I recall how God felt about the friends of Job when they assumed to know what God does and why.

God is forgiving, and he will forgive, but not automatically- you have to ask for it. And, you have to really be repentant in order to receive it.

When it comes to being faithful, we have to have a LOT more than just believing that God is God and Yeshua is the Messiah: we have to become better. And when I hear people say they will try to be better, my answer to them is the same as Jedi Master Yoda gave to Luke Skywalker, “Do or do not: there is no try.”

“But I am weak, I am a sinner from birth, no one is without sin!” Yes, that is all true, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be better than you are. If you want to be with God forever, you need to do more than just believe: you must have faith that is strong enough to spur you to action.

“But what must I do? How do I know what God expects of me?” The answer is in the Bible, specifically the first 5 books, which we call the Torah. No one can perform every law, regulation, commandment, and requirement that is in the Torah, but we can certainly do more than we are doing now.  When your faith causes you to become more of what God wants you to be by acting more in the way God wants you to act, then your faith is strong enough to ensure your salvation.

So long as you maintain it. Faith is something that comes to us with difficulty because it means giving up what we are used to, and for that very same reason, it is something that is too easily lost.

Shaul’s letters were written to Gentiles just learning about God and his instructions. Their faith was tested daily because their entire environment was against them, and they had to make a total U-turn in their behavior to show their faithfulness. You can see this in every letter Shaul wrote to the Gentile Believer congregations he started because he addressed the problems that their weak faith caused, which was human selfishness and other sinful activities. His admonishments regarding the Torah were not meant to teach people to ignore it but slowly learn how to live it. He was teaching people raised in a hedonistic and sexually perverted lifestyle how to live in a completely righteous way. Not an easy task, and so he didn’t try to force the entire Torah down their throats all at once, but instead to have them drink milk until they could have pureed Torah, and eventually they would be able to handle the “meat” of God’s word.

But a discussion of Shaul’s influence on the early Gentile Believers is beyond the scope of this message.

Your faith is measurable by your actions. There is a scale that God will use to judge each and every one of us, so we need to make sure that the side of the scale we want to be heavy on is our obedience to God’s instructions.  That is what James tells us is the true measure of our faith.

I will leave you with this last question: if you saw a hand writing a message on the wall, are you absolutely positive that the things you have said and done will demonstrate that your faith is enough to measure up?

Thank you for being here and please subscribe. Share me out, and if you like what I do then please consider buying my books (available through my website) and I always welcome your comments.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Can You Handle the Truth?

Was the first thing you thought of when you read today’s title the movie, “A Few Good Men?”  Jack Nicholson, when told by Tom Cruise that he only wants the truth, delivers the now-iconic line, “You can’t handle the truth!”, which meant Cruise’s character wasn’t able to properly understand or appreciate the truth.

If you prefer to watch a video, click on this link: Watch the video.

I want to look at this statement from an entirely different viewpoint, i.e. not that someone cannot handle hearing the truth, but can we who know the truth handle it? And what I mean is, can we handle it correctly?

Often we know someone who states a biblical “truth” that we know, absolutely, is wrong. Now, of course, we can never ignore the option that we are wrong, but when we know in our spirit, and when we can confirm it objectively (that is an important part of being “right”) from what is said in the Bible (and not just once in one sentence, but hermeneutically throughout the Bible), and also when it is confirmed to be truthful by others who we know are spiritually mature and biblically knowledgeable (wow, what a long sentence!), THEN we can be absolutely certain of what we believe.

Where was I? Oh, yeah- so, when we know someone says something that is wrong, do we handle the truth by stating it in a way that it can be handled by the one hearing it?

Do you see what I mean? Handling the truth is a two-way street: the one hearing it must hear the truth in a way that makes it possible for him or her to understand and accept it, and that will depend almost exclusively on how well the one with the truth presents it.

I was a salesman for many years, and I sold high-priced items on a one-call close basis. I was very successful because I did not tell the customer what they should do but instead, I presented my product in a way that allowed them to decide it was the best thing for them.  The way I did that, which is how we must teach others, is to start with finding out what they think about something, then make them doubt their position by asking leading questions. The questions must be delivered in such a way that the only answer they can give is one that shows they aren’t certain about why they think something is true.

Here is what I have learned to be the best way to teach someone: don’t start by telling them what you know, start by asking them what they know, and then ask them why they believe it to be true?  Only after you know what they think they know can you begin to show them that what they know is, as the song says, ain’t necessarily so.

You cannot get anyone to believe what you say until you get them to doubt what they say. 

Once they realize that they might not be correct, THEN you have an opening to slowly, compassionately and respectfully tell them what you believe and immediately follow it up with why. Hopefully, the proof of your belief will convict them and then, and only then, it is possible they will realize they were wrong. That is if they’re willing to do so because, after all the work you have done, if they really don’t want to know anything other than what they believe you will not be able to change their mind.

And when they can’t handle the truth, do not try to force it upon them. Many people, if not most, will not want to hear the truth because they don’t want to move out of their comfort zone. They will refuse to relearn what they already think they know because they do not want to know anything different; they do not want to stop doing what they have always done, and they most certainly do not want to chance losing friends and family by separating themselves from their current environment.

And, as we all know, being holy means to be separated from the common.

The truth is something that will set us free; what is a hard truth to handle is that most people do not want to be free. They want to remain slaves to sin because it is a lot easier (and in many ways more fun) than being a slave to God. Besides, most people don’t even realize they are slaves, and that truth is the hardest thing to initially overcome when we minister to the unsaved.

You may disagree with what I am saying, but I know from experience and from confirmation (having been a top salesperson) that your truth cannot be accepted until after their truth is proven to be wrong.

So, nu? …now that you know the truth about handling the truth, can you handle the truth?

Thank you for being here and please, if you haven’t already done so, subscribe to this ministry using the icons on the YouTube channel and the SUBSCRIBE button in the right-hand margin on the website. I also welcome comments and suggestions: I would like to know if you feel these messages are helpful.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Parashah Lech Lecha 2019 (Get thee out) Genesis 12 – 17

There is so much that happens in this parashah:

If you prefer to watch a video, click on this link: Watch the video.

  1. Abram (not yet called Abraham) is called by God to leave his father’s house, and he does so, receiving the promise from God that his seed will be a blessing to the entire world (which, by the way, has certainly been proven true);
  2. Abram gains wealth when the Pharaoh of Egypt takes Sarai (not yet called Sarah) as a wife, but God causes a plague to fall on his house so that Sarai is protected;
  3. Abram returns to Canaan and he and Lot separate, then God promises Abram his descendants will inherit all the land Abram can see, in all directions;
  4. There is a war with Sodom and Lot, with his whole family and possession, are taken captive, but Abram saves him;
  5. We are introduced to Melchizedek;
  6. God makes a physical covenant with Abram reiterating the promise to inherit the land and also tells Abram of the Egyptian bondage that will happen later;
  7. Abram gives birth to Ishmael, Hagar runs from Sarai but God has her return, promising her son will also be the progenitor of many nations, but will always be a wild ass of a man, with his hand against every other person, and their hands against him;
  8. When Abram is 99 years old, God tells him that he will now be called Abraham (and Sarai wil be called Sarah) and that he and all his descendants are to be circumcised;
  9. God promises Abraham that Ishmael will become the father of many nations, but it will be his own son, Isaac who will be the inheritor of the promises God made with Abraham.

Well, that should be enough to keep us talking for what? a year? Don’t worry- I won’t keep you here that long.

The challenge of having a teaching ministry is that there is so much to teach, and it is often difficult to determine what to teach about. I try to do everything in a way that glorifies God and edifies those who hear me, and more often than not I count on the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) to have something “hit” me when I am reading through the parashah.

What hit me today was how Abraham was not only willing to do as God told him but that he did it…immediately.

When God told Abraham to leave everything he knew, where he was comfortable, where his family and friends were, and go somewhere that God will show him when he gets there, he goes. Just like that; packs up everything and leaves. He doesn’t even know where he is going, but he goes, all the same (Gen. 12:1.)

When God tells him after he has set up camp coming out of Egypt, to go walk the length and breadth of the land, he goes (Gen. 13:17.)

When God tells him he will be a father of many nations, he believes him, which is counted to Abraham as righteousness (Gen. 15:6.)

I know that isn’t really doing anything, but it is such an important foundational aspect of salvation, I had to make sure I added it.

When God tells Abraham to circumcise every male as the sign of the covenant God has made with him, that very same day he circumcises himself, Isaac, and all the males in his household (Gen. 17:26.)

Abraham is the ultimate example of faithfully obeying God. Moses asked not to go to Egypt, then hesitated on the way; Gideon threw the fleece before the Lord (twice!) to test him; Jonah ran in the opposite direction; and even the great prophet, Isaiah, asked God to kill him because he felt wasn’t making a difference (he was wrong, of course.)

So many of the great Bible heroes showed some form of hesitation when called by God, but Abraham never hesitated for a second. Whatever he was told to do, he did ASAP.

How many of us can claim to have faith that strong?  Of course, to be fair, how many of us have heard God calling us to do something? I haven’t had a divine revelation to teach, but it came about slowly as I grew more and more in the Lord. Yet, I have had a calling on me, twice, when I was asked to be a member of the Council at the places where I have worshiped. And you know what I did? I hesitated. I asked if they were sure, not because I felt unable to do the job, but because I didn’t really want to. I knew it would involve me putting in extra time and energy and would carry great responsibility.  It was a calling that I didn’t answer immediately. Eventually, I did accept and what I thought would happen did; when in Philadelphia, I ended up taking on the job of the Rabbi when our Rabbi left to have his own ministry, and here in Florida I ended up holding three of the four executive positions on the Council and also teaching every other week.

This isn’t about me, though, it is supposed to be about you. I shared my own experience with you so you can see that I am no Abraham. But what about you? Have you been called by God to serve in some way? Did you answer right away or hesitate? Did you make excuses or immediately “pack up and leave”, as Abraham did?

Do you even think you have a calling from God? I ask God to not only show me what he wants from me but strengthen me to do it because I know whatever God wants me to do, it will be outside my comfort zone and will entail work that will get in the way of what I want to do.

But that is how it has to be. Staying inside our comfort zone is the same as never going anywhere; to be comfortable all the time is to be stagnant. To serve God we have to be more than willing to do something, we have to actually DO IT!!

I am going to conclude today’s lesson from this week’s parashah with this: when you hear the calling from God, don’t think about it, just do it.  I know, really, how easy that sounds and how hard it is to do, so you need to prepare yourself. The best way to do that is just read the Bible every day to see how, throughout history, God has taken care of those that obey his calling. Trust in God and demonstrate that trust through faithful obedience (I just posted about obedience yesterday) and no matter what God asks of you when you obey his calling you will be blessed beyond your understanding.

Thank you for being here and please subscribe if you like what you are hearing. Also, share me out and visit my website to check out other articles and videos. I always welcome comments and would love to hear what you think of this ministry.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Shabbat Shalom!

 

What is Obedience?

What is obedience?

If you prefer to watch a video, click on this link: Watch the video.

According to the Webster dictionary, it is willing to do as one is told; when I looked it up on the Internet, it says obedience is compliance with an order, request, or law or submission to another’s authority.

The Bible tells us to be obedient to the commands, laws, and regulations that God has given to us in the Torah. The question of whether or not Yeshua (Jesus) made those laws obsolete is not part of this discussion, but we are basing this entire message on the idea that the Torah was not done away with, as many Christian religions have taught.

The real problem with obedience to God is that the Bible tells us to be obedient, if for no other reason than to receive blessings (Deut. 28), but then it also tells us that we are all sinners from birth. You can find this in Ecclesiastes 7:20 or Romans 3:10 or Psalm 143:2 or Jeremiah 32:30, just to name a few places, so we are told to be obedient but the Bible tells us we can’t be obedient. At least, not all the time.

Do you remember the drash Yeshua told in Matthew 21:28-32 about the father and his two sons? The father asks his two sons to help in the field, one says he will do it but never does, the other says he won’t, but later changes his mind and goes out to help. Yeshua asked which son was obedient and they answered the one who actually went out to help. The point is that it doesn’t matter what we say, what matters is what we actually do. Even if we initially decide not to obey God, when we do it is considered to be obedience. And those who say they will obey, even if they want to when they say it, if they don’t actually obey then they are disobedient.

But, I gotta go back to the Bible telling us we are all sinners, which is the same as saying disobedient. So if I want to be obedient, but I cannot be obedient, then what’s the use of trying?

My take on this is that we have to be a little bit of both: willing to be obedient and being obedient as best as we can. No one will ever be sinless, no one will ever be perfect, and no one will ever not sin. That is, by definition, being disobedient, yet there are so many sinners throughout the Bible who were considered righteous! Abraham pimped out his wife… twice! Jacob disrespected his father when he lied to him. Judah slept with his daughter-in-law. Moses was a murderer. Samson had serious anger management issues. Need I go on?

I believe that true obedience begins with the desire to obey. Shaul (Paul) wrote about being “under the law”, which meant obeying as the means to gain righteousness and, thereby, salvation. The desire to obey had nothing to do with this form of obedience- it is what we would call “going through the motions.” The Prophets tell us, continually, that God sees the heart and cares not for the blood of bulls and sheep but that he desires our obedience. I believe this means that God doesn’t want us to just go through the motions but expects us to want to obey, and whether we do so perfectly or only partially if our heart is in the right place then we are considered to be obedient.  We can say faith is more than just believing that Yeshua is the Messiah, it also incorporates a heartfelt desire to obey God. And, as James says, when we have faith we will have works that demonstrate that faith.

My belief (and you may disagree) is that the kind of obedience God expects from us is, first and foremost, a willingness and desire to do as he says. Then we must do as he instructs us which, because of our innate iniquity, means we will never be able to do so perfectly. This is where God’s compassion and understanding come into the mix. Just as loving parents know their children will do wrong, even when they want to do right, God understands our weaknesses and incompetence. He accepts us when we want to do what he has told us we should, and do so to the best of our individual ability. Of course, we must also feel true remorse when we fail to obey and have a humble, contrite spirit when we come to God to apologize and ask for forgiveness.

Time out for a moment…let me ask you: Do you ever apologize to God? I do. I don’t just come to ask for forgiveness, but because I really feel bad when I screw up I also apologize to God for not doing what he wants me to do.  After all, if I apologize to people to show respect for their feelings doesn’t God deserve at least that much?

Let’s finish up today’s message with the answer I would give to the original question “What is obedience?”, and that answer is: obedience is first and foremost the willingness to do what one is told and secondly, actually doing what one is told as best as one is able.

My friends, we can never be sinless but we can always sin less, so go forth with both the willingness to obey God and demonstrating how genuine that willingness is by actually doing what he says, as best as you can. That is the kind of obedience that, I believe, God will honor.

Thank you for being here and please subscribe, share me out, buy my books, and make comments so I know if what I am doing is actually helping anyone to better know God and what he expects of us.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Too Lazy to be Saved

Have you wondered why people who have intelligence and profess to believe in God still hold to the wrongful teachings that their religion has given them? Even when they admit they don’t really think their religion is all that great?

Why do these intelligent people continue to reject the simple, and easy to understand, Word of God for the difficult and obtuse traditions their religion teaches? Why?

If you prefer to watch a video, click on this link: Watch the video.

If you ask me (and since this is my ministry, even if you don’t ask I am going to tell you), the reason is that they are too lazy to change. Even though what they know is more difficult to practice than what God says to do, they are comfortable with it because they have done it all their life. They don’t want to relearn, they don’t want to develop new habits while dropping old, bad ones, and they fall back on the old, lame excuse that God is a forgiving God and will accept them.

Oh, yes – God is a forgiving God, but he is also a Judge who is fair and will obey the rules he has set up. He may be merciful, but mercy (I have written about this before) is not absolution. Mercy is not just simply forgetting about it, it is not allowing sin to proliferate, and it is not going to get you off the hook. The mercy that God gives is that when he punishes the unrepentant sinner, his mercy will make the punishment less than the sinner really deserves.

But punish, he will!

Now, forgiveness is not mercy. Forgiveness comes when we ask for it with a truly repentant heart, and we ask for forgiveness by means of the blood that Yeshua gave on our behalf. Forgiveness cleanses us of the sin we committed when we ask for it correctly, and mercy is receiving less of the punishment we deserve when we have to be punished.

This is a simple truth that those who are too lazy to want to change will learn when they face the Lord at the final judgment. The sad thing is at that time, it will be too late to stop being too lazy.

If you know someone who is like Herod was, a man who listened to Yochanan the Immerser and felt convicted by him but was too lazy to take action on what he heard because he was too immersed in his own comfort zone, tell that person that they are lazy. Smile when you do it, and do not judge them as being unfaithful or sinful, just tell them they seem to be too lazy to want to change what they have learned, even though in their heart they know that what they have learned is wrong.

You most likely will not change them; in truth, no one can change anyone else, the one that needs to change has to be the one who wants to change. It’s like the old joke:

How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb?
Only one, but the lightbulb has to really want to change.

Maybe we all should take a look in the mirror and ask ourselves what is it that we feel led to change but haven’t because it is too hard or too uncomfortable? If you even think there is something that fits that description, ask yourself if it is serious enough to keep you from your salvation?

If you are already “saved”, are you really doing what a “saved” person should be doing? Are you acting saved? Are you still holding onto something that is of the world, which is always going to be against God, but that you just can’t let go of?

These are tough questions to answer. I confess that there are still things that I am too lazy or too comfortable with to change, even though I want to. It is all up to me to get it together and develop the self-discipline to make that change. Fortunately, these are relatively minor things that I do not believe will affect my salvation, and I do come before God every day and ask forgiveness for my weaknesses. And I am sharing this with you because I am not any better than you are, probably a little worse.

James tells us in his letter to the Messianic Jews in the Diaspora that teachers, of which I am one, are held up to scrutiny by God much more than those who do not teach, so I have to become better than I am.

And on that thought, let me end today’s message with what I think this is the best prayer anyone can pray:

“Dear Lord, help me to be just a little bit better in your eyes tomorrow than I am today.”

Amen.

Thank you for being here and please don’t forget to subscribe, share out this message and please consider buying my books if you like what you receive from this ministry. I haven’t sold many, but I can honestly say those who have read them tell me they liked what they read.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Are We Being Conditioned to Sin?

How many of you are familiar with the movie called “The Manchurian Candidate”?  It is about a man who was conditioned (in the old days we used to say “brainwashed”) by the Communists to assassinate a United States figure in the hope of taking over the United States.

If you prefer to watch a video, click on this link: Watch the video.

Conditioning isn’t always a bad thing: it is used to help people break their addiction to drugs, it is used to train animals to save lives, and it is used to make athletes more proficient. But there is also bad use of this psychological tool which is being used against us through the media.

Newspapers tell us nothing but bad news; TV news shows horrible events of death and destruction; video games are designed so we can kill zombies and other aliens or “enemies” with reckless abandon, and the more destructive and murderous you are the more points you get. All of this exposure to violence, death, and destruction is conditioning us to become inured to it. We are, unconsciously, being conditioned to accept murder, violence against others, and illegal activities (I am thinking of the video game Grand Theft Auto) as not only acceptable but commendable.

Now, you may say, “Steve- what harm is there is killing zombies? I mean, they’re already dead?” There is no harm to the dead, but there is harm to our children because they are being conditioned to accept that they can randomly kill a certain type of being without remorse or responsibility. What I see is not a video game that has children killing zombies: what I see is a systematic approach to teaching children it is acceptable, even commendable, to kill zombies.

The next step is simply to identify a class of people as “zombies”, and the conditioning will be complete.

Hitler didn’t start by telling the German people to kill Jews, he started by identifying the problems in the country and then associated those problems to the Jews. Subsequently, people didn’t see a Jewish man or woman anymore, they saw their own suffering, they saw the food they want but can’t afford to buy, the clothing they can’t give their children and the destruction of their country. They didn’t see the person, they saw what they were conditioned to see: a thing that needed to be gotten rid of. Hitler, through his propaganda regime, made the German people see Jews as zombies.

This is, of course, a simplistic explanation, but I hope it serves the purpose of making you think about what is happening today.

The example I gave above about killing zombies is only the tip of the iceberg. We are also told what to eat and how to invest. We are told that someone else has a better deal, which erodes loyalty. It may not be a big deal when I switch from Crest toothpaste to Arm and Hammer, but the constant exposure to TV ads telling us to switch products or services for a better deal is a form of conditioning, which erodes loyalty and teaches us that we should only look for the best “deal” and ignore anything else.

From a spiritual viewpoint, the Enemy is teaching people that they should take what they want now and forget about the future. And when we forget about the future, we forget about doing what needs to be done in order to keep our salvation.

Salvation is a free gift from God, achievable through faith in Messiah Yeshua. It is a gift to us, which we cannot buy or earn. And, being a gift, it is something that once received is totally under our control. In other words, whatever is yours today you can get rid of tomorrow. The Bible is clear, especially in the warnings we find in the New Covenant letters from Shaul and Yacov (James), that apostasy is a real threat to Believers. Revelation tells us most will fall away from the faith, and Yakov tells the Messianic Jews in his letter that once someone has known Messiah but then falls away and returns to their sinful life, they are impossible to save.

The only way to prevent yourself from being brainwashed to sin is to recognize the process. This message is your wake-up call to get your kids away from games that teach them killing anything is commendable. You should make sure that what they watch (as well as yourself) on TV and in the movies is not teaching that killing is a good thing. Killing the bad guy has been part of the movies for decades, but the Bible tells us that God is the one who judges and God is the only one who should avenge.

We love to see the good guy kill the bad guy, but is that going to help you or your children become more spiritually mature?

I don’t think so.

We all need to be aware and selective of what we are watching and reading because we are being conditioned that murdering others is acceptable behavior, that leaving something we have used and trusted for years just to save a few dollars is wise, and that other sins are good because it demonstrates that you are a compassionate and understanding person. Things such as abortions at birth, drag queen pedophiles at libraries reading to toddlers, children who aren’t even producing hormones allowed to change their gender surgically, and many other sinful and perverse activities that condition us to sin, and not just to sin, but to sin and think we are doing what is right.

That’s how Satan wins souls: not by coming right out and telling you to do evil, but by conditioning you to think that doing this or that is not only acceptable and correct behavior, but he makes it fun and attaches both physical and social rewards to it.

Just because something feels good to do doesn’t automatically mean it is a bad thing, but it very well could be. That is why we all need to think about what it is we are doing and being told to do, and compare it with what God tells us to do in the Bible. If there is the slightest doubt that what you want to do is not what God says you can, then don’t do it!

Thank you for being here and if you like what you read or hear in my videos, please share me out, subscribe so you will be notified when I post and consider buying my books. I appreciate your interest and welcome any comments or suggestions.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Are We Strong Enough to Give Up?

What do you think of when you hear “Give up?”

If you prefer to watch a video, click on this link: Watch the video.

Do you think that it means to quit trying to do something, like in a prizefight when one contender throws in the towel and by doing so shows that he gives up?

Or do you think of ceding land, as in a war, when one side gives up land to the other?

Or maybe it is when you tell a secret to someone else, and give up the information?

In some cases, giving up shows cowardice; in some cases, giving up shows compromise; in some cases, giving up shows the strength of will and dedication to something greater than yourself.

From a spiritual viewpoint, it could mean to surrender our life, meaning the way we live now, and allow another life to take over, one led by the Ruach HaKodesh, the Holy Spirit. This is the type of giving up I want to talk about today.

Too often I see people who are fighting with each other, verbally, about things of the Bible. The pronunciation of God’s name, the importance of speaking it, the idea of the Trinity, and even arguments about which tribe they are from or what will really happen during the Tribulation.

These topics are really hot buttons, as we say, and it is not much different than when we are in a social group and everyone knows better than to get into a political discussion (especially today) because the emotions are so strained and people are so passionate they end up not discussing as adults but arguing and throwing insults like little children on the school playground.

Frankly, I am surprised I haven’t seen someone react with “Oh Yeah? Well, my Daddy can beat up your Daddy, so there!”

The strength I am talking about is the strength that comes from humility, which allows us to overcome our own prideful need to have people tell us we are right or to know that we were able to change their way of thinking to what we think.

The Prophets of old were instructed by God -actually, they were warned- to tell the people what God wants from them and that they need to do what God says. If the Prophet refused, then the bloodguilt of the people would also be on the head of the prophet; in other words, God would consider the prophet to be as guilty as the people. If, however, the prophet told the people what God instructed him to say, then even if the people failed to listen or change their ways, their bloodguilt would be on them, alone, and the prophet would not be held guilty of their sins.

I would like to point out that as often as we read about the Prophets in the Tanakh being ignored, persecuted and even killed, there is not one reference I can recall where the prophet was insulting or judgmental.

When we discuss topics that are God-related, or what we consider biblical truths (which, if you are willing to admit it, are always going to be what you think is the truth) and the discussion begins to turn heated, do you have the strength to give up? Are you able to say, “I see we are at an impasse, so we will have to agree to disagree” and then move on?  If not, I would ask you to please think about why you can’t give up. Many people use what I consider to be the lame excuse that they are only telling the truth, which (apparently) in their mind gives them the right to be insulting, judgmental, and to badger people with Bible references until the other person blocks them. Then they brag about being blocked.

I don’t know about you, but I would never brag about being blocked because what I am bragging about, in reality, is that I was so stubborn and prideful that I purposefully rejected someone who I could have brought to a better understanding of God. If I am willing to give up this battle, I may be able to win them over in another battle. And, if I can maintain the communication, then maybe if I AM right about the topic I previously gave up on, I may get another chance to help that person see the light.

Now, there are cases when we should block people, or when we should not just stop trying, but ignore them, altogether. Shaul’s letters to Timothy and Titus advise them to stay away from useless arguments and discussions about irrelevant topics. This is something that we should do in discussion groups, as well. People who insist on arguing for the sake of arguing need to be avoided because they are doing the Devil’s work and we shouldn’t encourage that by participating. Also, those who are nasty, judgmental and insulting need to be avoided because they are slaves to their own egos and don’t really care about whether or not you are helped because they only want to hear themselves talk and have people confirm how wonderful and spiritually mature they are.

A meaningful and mature discussion is like walking in a field of flowers, where the more you walk, the more lovely scents you encounter. However, an argument that is a battle of egos is like walking in a field of sheep: no matter where you step you will end up stepping in something that smells terrible and you will wear that smell on you when you leave the field.

We must try to bring people to an understanding of God, an understanding and appreciation of the Messiah and what he did for us, and ultimately to the goal of salvation through Messiah. It is also important to teach the instructions God gave us for worship and treating each other so that we can persevere through tough times. These are important topics because they are eternal topics, and our very salvation is based on these things. Anything else might be edifying, it might educate us, it might even help someone to come to faith, but if it leads to argumentation and division, it is not being used in a godly way.

If you find yourself in an ongoing discussion that is going nowhere, and it is because (now, be honest) you are still trying to change someone’s mind, then you need to give up. Give up your pride, give up your stubbornness, and give up throwing pearls before swine. Yeshua told his Talmudim (students/disciples) that when they entered a town that refused to listen to them, to leave it and shake the dust off their sandals as a warning to that town. When you are in this same situation in a Facebook or internet discussion, other than sending some sandal-shaking emoji to someone just tell them, respectfully, that you will have to agree to disagree. I often use this phrase, “I appreciate your side of this, but we seem to be at an impasse so let God be the judge between us.” Honestly, if someone is going to argue that God should not be the judge, then don’t shake your sandal at them- slap them upside their head with it! (I’m kidding)

Here’s today’s lesson in a nutshell: when you realize the discussion has mutated into an argument, it’s time to flex your spiritual muscles and show that you have the strength to give up.

Thank you for being here and please subscribe if you like what you hear, and share these messages with others. I also welcome your comments, confirmations, and even your disagreements.

My hope is to give people the right information so they can make the right decisions: I never tell anyone what they should think or believe, my ministry is a teaching ministry. I want you to know that whatever you choose to do, you will be held accountable for it, so make sure you are choosing what you want to and not just what someone else told you to choose.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

 

Parashah B’resheet 2019 (In the beginning) Genesis 1:1 – 6:8

The High Holy Days are over for this Gregorian calendar year and will start again with the real Jewish New Year on April 8, 2020, when Pesach (Passover) begins.

If you prefer to watch a video, click on this link: Watch the video.

We have turned the Torah back to the very beginning, and this parashah starts with the creation of the universe, takes us through Adam and Eve, their sin, the murder of Abel, and the lineage of people up to just before the Flood.

There is, of course, the never-ending message of new beginnings, resurrection, and original sin. We could talk about the way the Enemy of God uses our own desires to cause us to sin, and how sin so overtakes us that it is like a small bit of hametz (leavening) which works its way through an entire batch of dough.

But that isn’t what I want to talk about.

I want to talk about the future, about when there comes a day we will not have to turn back the Torah. In fact, there is coming a day (maybe sooner than we all know?) when we will not even read the Torah anymore because it will be written on our hearts.

The completion of the work of Messiah Yeshua is when we, through faith in him, will be resurrected into our spiritual bodies, and those bodies (although we don’t know what they will be like) will be pumping the word of God throughout us.

This is why in Leviticus we are told that the life of a creature is in the blood. God gave us all the Torah so that we know how to worship him and how to treat each other. When we obey God we are considered righteous in his eyes- that is clear in the example Abraham set. He didn’t ask why or do some of what God wanted, making excuses for not doing the rest. No, Abraham simply did as God said: no questions, no delay, and no excuses. And because that is what he did, his faithful obedience was credited as righteousness.

When we obey God, doing what he says we should, we will also be considered righteous. And remember that Abraham did not live a sinless life, but he lived a faithful and obedient one.

When we sin, we have the opportunity to have that sin forgiven because Yeshua shed his innocent blood to act as the “life” for us. Sin is death, and faithful obedience is life, but since no one can be perfectly obedient, no matter how faithful they are, we have Yeshua as our “stand-in” so that through his righteousness, we can be seen as righteous, also.

As joyful as it is to turn the Torah back to the very beginning so that we can read it all over again, the joy of this event will be multiplied a hundred-fold when the Torah is not turned back, or even read because it will be our very lifeblood!

Now that is something to look forward to!

Thank you for being here and please subscribe. I welcome comments and if you like what you read or watch, please share this out and also consider buying my books.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Shabbat Shalom!

The Greatest Counterattack That Ever Succeeded

For those of you who may not know, I was a First Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps.  And, as such, I was very well trained in combat skills, including all types of attacks and counterattacks.  One thing I learned is that it is very important to pre-organize a counterattack because the best time to do so is immediately after you lose a battle. That is when the foe is the most vulnerable because they have just taken over your position and are trying to organize themselves.

If you prefer to watch a video, click on this link: Watch the video.

The battle between God and Satan has been raging for quite a while. Like most wars, there are victories and losses on both sides, and often even after the war has been won, the winning battle is not the last skirmish.

When Yeshua rose from the dead, the war which Satan started against God was won, then and there, but the battles did not stop. Yeshua’s victory over death is complete, but there is still a lot of “mopping up” that needs to be done, and we know (from the vision given to John on Patmos) that there are more battles yet to come before this war is completely finished.

Satan was defeated with Yeshua’s victory, but he organized a counterattack that has been devastating to that victory. And what was that counterattack?

It was separating the Gentile Believers from Judaism, resulting in the creation of what we call Christianity.

It started as soon as the people began referring to the Gentile converts to “the Way” as Christians. That separated them from the Jewish population by name. Then, in or around 98 CE, the early Gentile leaders of what was now being called Christianity declared Sunday to be the Sabbath for those who follow Christ. Later they also rejected the idea that Judaism and Christianity could be compatible. By the end of the Second Century, new Christians were almost exclusively Gentiles, and by the time of the Council of Nicene, the New Covenant was being composed by Gentiles. From that time forward, Christianity (in nearly all its forms) has ignored or rejected the Tanakh, teaching only from the New Covenant.

And by ignoring the Tanakh, they never learned about all the mistakes the Jewish people made; consequently, Christianity has made all those mistakes, all over again. And what is worse, they have added new ones to it.

In Romans 11:25, Shaul warns the Gentile Believers not to become proud simply because they are accepting Yeshua as the Messiah, whereas the mainstream Jewish population did not. He tells them that if God was willing to lop off the natural branches from the Tree of Life for lack of faith, how much more so will he lop off the unnatural branches that have been grafted on if they also lose faith?

Yet, despite this warning, Gentile Believers have, from the start, ignored the instructions God gave in the Torah, organized their own holidays, rituals, and soon after Constantine they actually began to persecute the Jewish people in order to separate them from Judaism, as well.

Christianity has not learned the lessons that God’s Chosen people learned. These lessons were learned when they were in the desert, and later when they were in Canaan, and later when their kingdom was divided; in fact, it is my opinion that we Jews still haven’t learned our lesson and are making mistakes, even today. I have heard or read of some synagogues that celebrate people or activities that are clearly identified as a sin in the Torah, but they do so in order to appear “politically correct”; in other words, they are seeking the approval of human beings instead of seeking the approval of God.

The “Church” has done even worse things than that! In the Catholic churches, there are statues that people bow before and pray to; in some non-Catholic sects they have gay ministers; in some other sects they celebrate Halloween. There are so many things that they do wrong, and I believe it is because they haven’t learned from their Jewish ancestors because the Enemy made it easy to sin by separating Christians from Jews.

I won’t even start with the generations of Christians who have been taught to ignore the Torah because of the misinterpretations of the letters that Paul wrote to his congregations, all of which were composed almost exclusively of Gentiles. He wrote to them in a way that would help them to slowly learn about God’s instructions by feeding them a little at a time and specifically telling each congregation only what they needed to hear to keep them on the right path. Unfortunately, since the Gentiles didn’t learn or want to deal with all of God’s instructions, Satan taught them that Jesus nailed the Torah to the Cross.

That’s right, that’s what I said…the idea that the Torah isn’t valid for Christians is a lie that comes straight out of the depths of hell!

So, nu? What do we do? How can we breach this 2,000-year-old gap between God’s instructions and Christianity that Satan has succeeded in creating?

Don’t look to me for an answer because I don’t know what can work.  Actually, I don’t think it will be possible for us to close this gap. God will have to do this on a case-by-case basis. I am doing what I can by having this ministry. This is a teaching ministry, and as the tag line at the bottom of my Home Page indicates, I am here trying to get the correct information to people so they can make an informed decision about how they will worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the truth about what the Messiah, Yeshua, taught.

Only after the Acharit HaYamim (The End Days) is upon us, the final battle is won, Yeshua is ruling the world and the new heavens and new earth are in place, will this gap be closed. But, I am sorry to say, I do not see it happening until then. Humans can’t close it, and I don’t think God wants to until it is time for all things to be completed.

Maybe this is what Yeshua was talking about when he told the parable about the and the tares and the wheat (Matthew 13.) The owner of the field planted wheat, but the enemy came in at night and planted tares. When they were growing together the owner said to leave them growing together and only after the harvest will they be separated. I think we are living this parable in real life.

The separation of Christianity from Judaism is the greatest counterattack that has ever succeeded. If you are a Christian who has been separated from your roots, you can still win your individual battle against the enemy of God by studying the Tanakh (Old Covenant) and re-reading the teachings of Yeshua that are in the first three Gospels. Ignore John and only concentrate on Matthew, Mark, and Luke. And forget about reading any of the Epistles by Shaul (Paul) until you have had a chance to get a Messianic Bible or Messianic Commentary on the New Covenant so you can see where he wasn’t really against following the instruction in the Torah, but was trying to spoon-feed it to his Gentile congregations. He did that because he knew it was very hard for these Gentiles to make the paradigm shift from a self-serving hedonistic lifestyle to one of selfless love for others and righteous living.

The war has been won, but there are still battles raging, and they will not stop until Yeshua returns to do a final mop-up of the mess the Enemy has created with his counterattack. Be prepared for that day by learning how God told us we should worship him and treat each other, which is in the Torah. Then decide for yourself what you will do.

When Yeshua returns and you face the Lord at his Judgement throne, whichever way you have decided to live is what you will be judged on. Make sure that what you choose to do it is your own decision and not just what someone else told you.

Think about this: God said not obeying the Torah was a sin, and Satan knows that sin separates people from God, so the best way to win souls for himself is to make sure that the Torah is ignored.

One last piece of advice? The easiest road to travel leads to death.

Thank you for being here and please subscribe to this website and my YouTube channel, as well. Share this out with everyone you know so they can also have a chance to be judged on their own decision instead of what someone else tells them.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!