Changing the Way I Talk About the Torah

The Torah is the first 5 books of the Bible, which most of you already know, and it contains all the commandments (also referred to as “laws”) God has given to us. The rest of the Old Covenant is more of a historical narration, which shows us how we have failed to live up to our side of the covenant God made with us, in which those laws reside.

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For Jews, there is no problem with the Torah being God’s laws because the Torah is all that almost every non-Messianic Jew in the world cares about, meaning they do not accept anything from the New Covenant as scripture or even valid.  So, for those Jews who do not accept Yeshua as their Messiah, law=Torah=commandments=regulations, and that is fine.

The problem I want to talk about today is that Christians, in general, have traditionally been taught that the Torah- in truth, the entire Tanakh- is just for Jews. Jews have the Torah and Christians have Jesus Christ.Add to that the traditional Christian teaching of the Epistles Shaul (Paul) wrote, which is that obedience to the ‘Law” is legalism and wrong because faith and love are all you need to be saved, and you have the incorrect belief that law=Torah and neither apply to Christians.

As a Messianic Jew, I understand the truth about the relationship between Yeshua (Jesus) and the Torah, in that Yeshua was (as John tells us in John 1) the living example of the way we are to live in accordance to the Torah. Not only did he NOT do away with Torah, but he confirmed it in everything he did and said.

Consequently, understanding the above I also know the truth about the letters Shaul wrote, which (again) did NOT deny the validity of the Torah, but confirmed it. Albeit, the way he did so was very convoluted and confusing to Gentiles who couldn’t grasp the underlying cultural and religious meanings of much of what he wrote.

So, what I have decided to do (which will take me a while to incorporate into my messages) is to not refer to the Torah as “law”, or “commandments” or even “regulations” (which, by the way, they are) but simply as God’s instructions to us.

When we look at how God tells us what we are to do, it isn’t so much a decree as a choice. There are way too many passages to quote, but I doubt that anyone with any knowledge or familiarity with the Bible will be surprised when I say God tells us (repeatedly) what we are to do and what will happen if we don’t. To some, this may be a decree or even seen as a threat, but to me, it is a choice.

Through all the Prophets, God constantly told his people that he wanted them to choose life so that they would live. When he says to choose life, he means to obey his instructions in the Torah. Yeshua did not give any new instructions: yes, I know he said: “I give this new command, to love one another” (John 13:34) but that really isn’t “new”- it is from Leviticus 19:18. Yeshua did not create a new religion (this is what Jews are taught), nor did he change any of the existing instructions from the Torah or do away with them (this is what Gentiles are taught), so since Torah and Law and commandments all have the same connotation to both Jews and Gentiles, I will use “instructions” because that won’t sound like the same rhetoric everyone has already heard.

Maybe, just maybe, if people take a new view of the Torah as just instruction, which we have the right to choose or refuse, then maybe they will begin to see the entire Bible in a different light, one that might shine the truth through the cloudy and darkened misinterpretations that both Jews and Gentiles have been force-fed for generations.

One last thing: there are probably some of you out there who are thinking that I am wrong to refer to God’s commandments as something that is not mandatory, and I can understand why you would feel that way.  After all, he is God, right? The Almighty! The Creator of the Universe! The holy I Am! And when God says we should do something, it isn’t a suggestion, so where do I get off saying we have a choice?  The reason I say we have a choice is, well…because God tells us we do. When God says we should “choose life” he is giving us an option. If God didn’t want us to have an option, he would have not told us we have a choice. And he would not have given us Free Will, either. But God doesn’t want automatons, and he won’t make us love him; the only thing we can give God that he doesn’t already have is our love. He wants our worship, obedience, and love for him to be our choice.

Following God’s instructions shouldn’t be done because you are afraid of punishment but as a love-response.

The Torah is God’s instructions to the world (not just the Jews) teaching us how to worship him and treat each other. It is like the instructions you get when you have to put a child’s toy together: you can do the usual manly thing and ignore them, or you can read them carefully and follow them. And for all of you (like me) who have tried to put something together without reading the instructions, you know how that almost always turns out.

The question I leave you with is this: knowing how the toy turns out when you don’t read and obey the instructions, do you want your eternal soul to end up the same way?

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I welcome comments and discussion, and all I ask is that you be nice.

I look forward to the next time we are together, and until then…L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Purim 2019 Message

Chag Sameach!!

Happy holiday! Last night began the festival known as Purim, which is the plural for the word Pur, meaning Lots. It is a very joyful Jewish holiday that celebrates our salvation from extinction, which was orchestrated by the hated Persian Vizier, Haman.

By the way, in case you didn’t know it, Haman was a descendant of Agog, which means he was an Amalekite, one of the ancient enemies of the Jewish people.

If you aren’t familiar with the story, it is the Book of Esther in the Bible. It isn’t very long and is the only book in the entire Bible where there is no mention of God. And that is the basis for today’s message.

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One of the most important parts of this story is when Mordecai (the hero) asks his niece, Hadassah (Esther, the heroine) to go to the king and try to save the Jews from the irreversible edict Haman (the bad guy) fooled the king into signing, which calls for the total destruction of all the Jews in all the 27 provinces throughout the land. Esther initially refuses because she is afraid to go to the king, and through intermediaries tells Mordecai that the law states if anyone approaches the king without him asking them to come, they will be killed- unless the king raises his scepter to allow their visit.

Today’s message is based on what Mordecai says right after Esther’s refusal to go to the king (Esther 4: 12-14):

They relayed Esther’s words to Mordechai, and Mordechai said to relay to Esther, “Do not think that you will escape [the fate of] all the Jews by being in the king’s palace. For if you will remain silent at this time, relief and salvation will come to the Jews from another source, and you and the house of your father will be lost. And who knows if it is not for just such a time that you reached this royal position.”

When Mordecai tells Esther relief and salvation will come to the Jews from another source, that source is never mentioned beyond this vague reference, but Mordecai is clearly referring to God. He is demonstrating the faithfulness that all righteous persons have in God to save his people, no matter how doomed (by human viewpoint) they seem to be. Even when we don’t mention or acknowledge God, he is there. This is what many people don’t understand about him: just because we don’t see clear and absolute evidence of the existence of God, that doesn’t mean he isn’t here. He has been, he is now, and he always will be here, whether he shows himself evident or not.

If you ask me, the reason people say they don’t see evidence of God in their everyday life is simply that they refuse to accept what they see. A flower opening at day and closing at night; bees being able to fly even though science says they are aeronautically incapable of flight; baby prey animals being able to run within an hour of birth whereas baby predators can’t hunt on their own for years; two cells coming together against immeasurable odds and from that joining nine months later a complete human being is born.

These are all miracles and evidence not just of God’s existence, but of his wonderful design. Yet, if someone wants to refuse to accept this as evidence of God’s existence, they rationalize it away convinced that just because use we can understand the science behind the event, it isn’t really a miracle.

Eyes that cannot see.

I also want to talk about when Mordecai tells Esther perhaps the reason she was chosen as queen was specifically for this moment; he is telling her that God put her where she is so she could save God’s people. In other words, God has directed her entire life just for this one moment.

When we read the Book of Jonah (1:17), it says God created a fish to swallow Jonah. Jewish tradition tells us that God created that species of fish, way back on the 5th day of creation, specifically so that it would be there when he needed it to swallow Jonah.

Talk about planning ahead!

Mordecai was certainly a faithful and righteous man: he knew that no matter what the odds were against God’s people, God would, somehow, save them. Clearly, he understood that God has a Plan, and a backup plan, and a Plan C, and probably plans throughout the entire alphabet, all of which are designed so that God’s ultimate plan will be accomplished.

This is the lesson for us from the Book of Esther: God’s is always here, he has his plans for the future and those plans will be accomplished. He has accounted for every single person and creature, each with some part to play in his ultimate plan of salvation, and we all have the option to participate or to sit it out. Esther participated, and through her, God saved his people.

But what if she had chickened out? What if she figured, even though Mordecai warned her, because she was the Numera Una queen and no one knew she was a Jew, she could slide by? If that had happened, there would be no Book of Esther in the Bible. It would be the Book of Mordecai or the Book of Ethelynn, or maybe there wouldn’t even be a book, just an entry by one of the later Prophets telling us how God overcame this threat against his people.

Have you ever wondered how many people that aren’t in the Bible might have been there if they had accepted their role in God’s plan?

Don’t be one of those who never gets mentioned. God’s plans aren’t finished yet, and even though the Bible is complete, when the End Days are ended and we are in God’s presence for all eternity, maybe then there will be a new Bible and you might be in that one. Who knows? You or I may one day be a hero for God, we just haven’t received the call yet.

So keep your ears open and constantly listening for God’s calling in your life. You never know when he may call on you to help accomplish his plan.

If you like what you have read, please share me out, buy my books and certainly SUBSCRIBE to this ministry. Click on the subscribe button in the right-hand margin and also use the link above to subscribe to my Youtube channel, as well. If I get enough subscribers they will advertise on that channel and I can use whatever (little) money I get to help send books to needy Believers throughout the world, as I have been doing already in Uganda, Malawi, and India.

I also always welcome comments, I only ask whether you agree or not, just be nice.

Thank you for being here and until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

When the Student Surpasses the Teacher

I have taught continuing education, my mother and older sister have taught in the public school system, and as a member of the Council for two different houses of worship, I have also taught Bible school, study and given the message on Shabbat many, many times. So, as a teacher with “teaching” in my very DNA, I can tell you that one of the greatest gifts a teacher can receive is when one of their students surpasses them in knowledge and ability.

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However, there is a situation that when the student surpasses the teacher it isn’t such a good thing.

I am talking about the writings of the Apostles in the New Covenant, especially those of Shaul of Tarsus, better known as Paul.

As most of you know, nearly 2/3 of the entire New Covenant content is from Shaul’s letters to the Kehillot.

NOTE: There were no “churches” in the First Century. The statement in Acts about how the communities of Believers, which during Shaul’s time were becoming more and more made up of Gentiles converting from their pagan religion, would have been called a synagogue (Greek for “gathering”) or more likely, Kehillot (plural for Kehillah) which is the Hebrew word meaning “community.”

Shaul’s letters were directed to new Believers who were mostly Gentiles, and neophytes of the Jewish lifestyle and forms of worship found in the instructions God gave to Moses, which Yeshua and all the Apostles taught. They were, if you read them carefully, each specifically written to address specific problems within that specific Kehillah.

The letter to the (mostly) Gentile Believers in Rome was meant to introduce himself and to get their aid in spreading the Gospel. The letter to the Colossians was to refute the Gnostic influences that were infiltrating their community. He wrote to the Gentile Believers in Thessalonica to help strengthen their understanding because he was forced to leave them early (due to rioting.) To Titus, he wrote because there were problems within that community of Gentile Believers, and the letter to the Galatians was to refute the legalism that the local Jewish Believers were trying to force upon the newly converting Gentiles.

It is important to understand Shaul wrote using what I call “Jewish Logic.” Jewish logic is the argumentation process in which you never say what something is until you have stated everything it isn’t. When we read the Epistles Shaul wrote, especially the letter to the Gentile Believers in Rome, we can see that he would state the negative side (arguing for the doing away with of the “law”) then come back later with the positive argument that what he just said wasn’t true. But, because the Gentiles had never run into this type of argumentation, plus to avoid the problems the Jewish population was having with the Roman rulers, they were more than happy to read only what they wanted to read, which was the negative statements that they misused to justify doing away with the instructions in the Mosaic covenant, which led to the eventual religious separation between the (now being called) Christians and the general Jewish population.

The fact is that none of Shaul’s letters were against obedience to the instructions God gave in the Torah.

Yeshua taught God’s instructions using a Drash (parable) to show the Remes (spiritual meaning) whereas the Pharisees had only taught the P’shat (literal or plain meaning) of those instructions. This is why it was so often said that Yeshua taught with authority and that no one had ever taught as he had.

If you are unfamiliar with these terms, here is a link to Wikipedia to help you: PaRDeS.

The letters from Shaul were written by a very educated man who still thought with a Jewish mindset, using Jewish logic that was lost on Gentiles who had no idea of the cultural and religious meanings behind the words that any Jewish reader would readily have understood.

The problem is that these misinterpretations were later written down as doctrine by Constantine in the Third Century CE, and today are considered more important than what Yeshua, himself, said.

It is almost the exact same thing as the Tanakh and the Talmud: within Orthodox Judaism, the Talmud, which is the teaching of the great Rabbis in Jewish history, is considered scripture and often followed instead of the instructions in the Torah.

In other words, modern Christianity has taken what the student (Shaul) said and made it more important than what his teacher (Yeshua) said.

For example, Yeshua tells us in Matthew 5:17 that he did not come to change the law; yet I hear so many people use Romans 10:4 to deny what Yeshua said because Shaul said:

For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

 and also in Colossians 2:16-17 where Shaul says:

Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day.  These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.

and again in Colossians 2:13-14 where he says:

When you were dead in your trespasses and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our trespasses, having canceled the debt ascribed to us in the decrees that stood against us. He took it away, nailing it to the cross! 

These are but a few of the examples of Shaul’s teachings that have been used, incorrectly, to deny that the Torah is still valid for all those who accept Yeshua as their Messiah.

We must read the letters Shaul wrote not from the viewpoint of someone wanting to avoid being associated with the Jewish population but from the viewpoint of a Pharisee who knows obedience is secondary to faith, but still necessary. And, when we are in the proper “Jewish” mindset, reading these letters we can finally see the truth in them: they are not polemics against the instructions from God but apologetics to enforce the truth that salvation is faith-based and not performance-based, but that doesn’t excuse us from obedience to those instructions.

I have great respect for Shaul and I can see his compassion and concern for the Gentiles he brought to salvation. His knowledge of the Bible was exemplary, and his understanding of the difference between legalistic observance and faithful obedience was far above that of most people.

Still and all, I really wish he had dumbed-down his letters. I believe if he had written to his audience instead of how he understood things, maybe much of the schism between the early Gentile Believers and the Jewish Believers would have been much less, or maybe even never had occurred.

In conclusion, what I ask of you is to re-read these Epistles and forget what you have been taught they mean: read them from the viewpoint of the Apostle James (2:14), knowing that faith is how we are saved and obedience to God’s instructions is how we prove that faith.

Thank you for being here, and if you are still confused about anything Shaul says, please let me know in the comments or contact me through my website and I will be glad to give you my interpretation. Then you can make your own decision.

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Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Why I Do This

In this ministry, I have been posting about 3 times a week for nearly 6 years now. I have added different categories, improved my website, created a Facebook page, purchased a video creation program (so people can either read or watch my messages), and written three books.  I also have started to add personal pictures and videos now and then.

If you prefer to watch a video (which is why I bought the app), click on this link: Watch the video.

I have not made money from any of this. Although the people who have bought and read my books have given me positive feedback, they are not making any professional authors shake in their boots. I doubt Oprah will ever recommend me. I do this because I have the same feeling that Jeremiah had (not that I could ever come close to the class he is in) in that I feel a need to announce to everyone what I believe to be correct information about God and his salvation through the Messiah.

I do not tell anyone what they should believe in or what they should do- that is totally their decision. All I want to do is make sure that whatever decision they make, they make it using good information.

It’s just like when I used to go to people’s homes from telemarketing leads to sell them siding or windows. That type of sale is called a One Call Close, but you actually need to “close” them three times:

  1. your first close is to get the homeowner to buy the idea that they should let you into the house;
  2. the second close is to get them to admit they would like to buy your product; and
  3. the final close is to get them to actually buy it.

When I was working on the first close, I very often was met with the statement,” If you are going to try to sell me something you might as well leave now. No matter what you say I am not buying anything today!” My answer was, “It’s your money- I won’t tell you how to use it. But let me ask you something: when you do buy something, do you buy it without any knowledge of what you are buying, or do you make an informed decision about what you buy?”

The answer was always that they make an informed decision- this is what we call asking a question to which you already know the answer.

So, once they answered me, I would say, “That’s the best way to buy something. All I want to do is give you the information you need to make an informed decision. What you do after that is up to you.”

I am not interested in telling people what to do, only giving them the correct information so they know what they are doing.

When we read the Bible, this is what God has always done. God has never dictated what we must do. What he has done is to tell us IF you do this I will bless you this way, and IF you don’t you will be punished this way. He gives us the information then tells us to choose life or death. He then recommends we choose life, i.e. to obey him.

In Deuteronomy 28, Moses states the blessings God promises for obedience to his instructions, as well as the curses for disobedience, and after telling all these things to the people, in Deuteronomy 30:19-20 Moses says:

This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

I try to teach the truth about who God is and how “salvation” works. Most religions teach that God loves us and wants to bless us (which is all true) and that when we accept Yeshua (Jesus) as the Messiah we are “saved” from hell because he died for our sins. This is all true, but it isn’t the whole truth. They tell you when you faithfully accept Yeshua as your Messiah you are forgiven of your sins, but what they neglect to mention (what Paul Harvey used to call “the rest of the story”) is that without repentance, there cannot be forgiveness. God will not forgive someone who isn’t repentant. They also forget to remind us that the blessings God has for us are dependent upon our obedience-when we reject what God says we should do, we reject the blessings he wants to give us.

Here is what I have found to be a very hard thing for many people to grasp:

we are saved by our faith and not by what we do, but what we do shows how genuine our faith really is.

In other words, you can’t have your cake (constant, unrepentant sin) and eat it, too (still receive forgiveness.)

You can’t be a consistent, unrepentant sinner and receive forgiveness. Unfortunately, this is the message many religions teach.

God has no religion and his commandments, all of them, are for everyone. This is what I announce to the world, in different ways using different stories, so that people have the information they need to make the right decision about where they will spend eternity.

 

Thank you for being here; if you like what you hear please SUBSCRIBE using the button in the right-hand margin, and use the link above to subscribe to my Youtube channel, as well. Share me out, buy my books, help me get the information people need to know out to them.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Whose Definition of “Good” Counts?

I know many Catholic’s who tell me they believe in God and they believe in Jesus (of course they do- they never had a choice) and when it comes down to everything else, they know that so long as they are a “good person” they will be able to go to heaven.

I agree we all should try to be good, but what we need to know for this to work as a means of staying saved is…what is “good?”

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Using Strong’s Concordance to see all the places where “good” is used in the Bible, we start out right at the very beginning with creation, when we are told the day was good, the earth was good, the lights in the sky were good, the trees and plants were good, and after creating all things God saw that everything was good. So far, “good” seems to be associated only with God and what he does.

In Genesis 3:5 the serpent tells Eve that if she were to eat of the Tree of Knowledge that it would make her and Adam like God, knowing good and evil. This indicates to me that knowing what “good” is still is exclusively something of God.

The use of “good” throughout the Bible (there are way too many examples to use them all) is almost exclusively as an adjective, such as good fruit, saying good or bad about someone, living for a good long time, etc., or relating directly to God or what he has done.

The Land of Israel is often referred to as that “good land”, but (again) that is because it was made by God.

I have found a few references where “good” is used to describe a person:

2 Samuel 18:27: Achima’atz is coming to give the King news of the battle with Absalom and he is described as a “good man”;

Psalm 37:23 says the steps of a “good man” are ordered by the Lord. However, this may not be a good example because the Jewish interpretation doesn’t use the term “good man” but says that “God makes his steps firm” or “God leads him”, so the better interpretation does not use “good” as a description of a man.

NOTE: Strong’s Concordance uses King James Version, a very Catholic interpretation, and I believe this is where the idea that a person can be “good” originated.

But Psalm 14 tells us there is no one that does good!

Let’s see what the Son of God, the Messiah says we should consider as “good.” We find that in Matthew 19:17 when a young man asks Yeshua what good he must do to attain salvation. Yeshua answers him:

Why do you ask me about what is good?” Yeshua replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”

According to Yeshua, only God is “good.” This goes along with what we’ve seen where the use of “good” throughout the Bible is only when directly associated with God. There are some few exceptions where “good” is used referring to people, but the number of times this happens is so rare it wouldn’t even be considered statistically significant.

To conclude today’s lesson, I won’t say what you should believe “good” is, but for me, I will believe Yeshua.

I believe only God is truly “good”, the things God created for mankind are “good” and that no person is “good”, so far as God is concerned. Even his son, Yeshua, said he wasn’t “good”, so if the Messiah, the only human being to live a sinless life in perfect obedience to the Torah, says he isn’t “good”, what chance do you or I have to be considered “good”? I’ll tell what chance we have- NO CHANCE!

Finally, for those of you who have been taught and still believe that being “good” will get you to heaven, let me help you put that in the proper perspective. Being good as the world defines good is useless; what the world considers to be good is usually the exact opposite of what God considers good:

  • The world thinks prayer in school is not good, God tells us prayer is always good;
  • The world thinks killing babies in the womb is good, and God says murder is not good;
  • The world says fornication is good and God says it is not good;
  • The world says …well, you get the point.

If you want to be a “good person”, then do what Yeshua told the man in Matthew 19 to do: you must follow the commandments. And not just the ones you like, or just the ones some “religion” tells you to follow, and certainly not any religious doctrine or dogma which is not in the Bible.

You must follow the commandments God gave to everyone, which you will find in the Torah.

And if you do your very best to live as the Torah says you should, I think God will consider that to be a “good” try.

Thank you for being here, and please don’t forget to click on the SUBSCRIBE button in the right-hand margin. Also, use the link above and subscribe to my YouTube channel, as well.

Please share me out, help this ministry to grow, and I welcome comments…just be nice.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Can Sinners go to Heaven?

You would think the answer to the question posed in today’s message title would be a resounding, “NO! Of course not!” However, considering that we are all sinners from birth, I (for one) am hoping that the answer isn’t as obvious as it seems.

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We all know that God gave us commandments through Moses which he wants us to obey. These commandments are fairly simple for us to understand: there are some just for women, some just for the members of the Priesthood (whether Rabbi, Priest, Minister, Pastor, Chaplain, or whatever), and the rest are for everyone. Traditional Christian teaching has reduced the number of these commandments significantly, in that it has identified some laws which they classify as only for Jews, others as “ceremonial”, and then there are the ones they agree they should obey which they label as “moral” laws.

Overall, pretty much everyone agrees that we are sinners and that iniquity (the innate desire to sin) exists within us from birth. Even within Judaism, we have the Yetzer Hara (Evil Inclination we are born with) and the Yetzer Tov (Good Inclination), which doesn’t come to fruition within us until we are old enough to study and understand the Torah and the Talmud.

Understanding this, let’s go back to the original question: “Can sinners go to heaven?” Sorry to say, the answer is  still “No!

However, God has made salvation available to us through the sacrificial system, which allows us to be forgiven of our sins. And the ultimate sacrifice, the last one which provides forgiveness throughout all time, is the sacrifice of Yeshua ha Maschiach (Yeshua the Messiah), which is available to us despite the fact that the Temple in Jerusalem (the place where the sin sacrifice must be presented) no longer exists.

So, when we take into consideration the sacrifice of Yeshua, the answer to our title question changes to, “Yes- sinners can go to heaven, so long as they have been forgiven through their acceptance of Yeshua as their Messiah.”

But wait a minute!!  There is a missing piece to the puzzle we haven’t discussed, but it is the keystone for salvation: acceptance of Yeshua is necessary, asking forgiveness for each and every sin is necessary (there is no such thing as Once Forgiven, Always Forgiven- I have written about that a few times), but none of this works without true repentance.

Repentance is an absolute necessity for forgiveness. Without repentance, why would God forgive us? If someone stole from you and asked forgiveness, but never said they were sorry for what they did and that they would do it again if given the chance, would you think them worthy of forgiveness?

I hope not! If so, then you aren’t forgiving- you’re a fool.

Repentance, true repentance, is is the first step on the path to salvation which God has provided. . If someone sins and doesn’t repent of that sin, God is not a fool. He knows the heart of everyone, and if someone sins, likes to sin, and intends to continue to sin, they can repeat the “Sinners Prayer” until they are red in the face, and God will ignore them.

The final answer to the question, “Can sinners go to heaven?” is this: repentant sinners who ask forgiveness through the Messiah Yeshua can be forgiven of their sins, and by means of that forgiveness they will be in God’s presence forever.

In reality, no one goes to heaven, we stay on the new Earth- read the Prophets and Revelation.

I have said many times and will continue to do so, that before I was saved, I was a sinner who rationalized my sins; now I am a sinner who regrets my sins.  And it is only because of that regret, that repentance and constantly, daily, hourly asking God to forgive me through Yeshua’s sacrifice, that I know I will be able to spend eternity in the presence of the Almighty.

We all know people who profess to believe in God and Messiah, and who have been taught that once they say the “Sinners Prayer” they are forgiven and so long as they are a “good” person, they will go to heaven. Some even say that they know they do wrong, but the Bible says God loves them and is forgiving, so they know that he will let them into heaven.

Sorry to bust your rose-colored bubble, but that ain’t how it works.

When we sin we need to ask forgiveness, each and every time, and we need to ask with genuine repentance. I still sin, and there are sins I know I do and have not overcome, and every day I ask forgiveness and strength to overcome sin in the future. Because of this attitude of repentance and humility, I believe that I will be in God’s presence, a forgiven sinner, in the Acharit HaYamim (End Days.)

Let me end this with a statement that I believe we all should live by: We can never be sinless, but we can always sin less

 

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Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

I got nuttin’…but that’s somtin’.

I read my Bible every day, I pray when I drive somewhere and also when I am taking a bike ride. It is usually during these times when I am talking with God or reading his word that I get inspiration about what to discuss with you.

This morning I read the Bible, I read Dear Abby (great place to find fodder for messages) and I also went through a lot of postings from different discussion groups (all “Christian” or “Messianic” of one type or another) looking for something.

And after all of that “research”, I got nuttin’.

That’s when it hit me- sometimes, nothing is still something. And what that something is, is that waiting on the Lord often means just that- waiting. Not getting any messages, not having any revelation, not even a hint as to what is going on. Just a complete and utter silence.

And you know what? I think that is OK.

Just as God gave us the Shabbat (Sabbath Day) to take a break from our everyday lives, we also can take a break, now and then, from everything.

If you have a problem at work, give it up to God, take a break from worrying about it and wait for a change.

If you have personal issues with family or friends, take a break from the pain of it, place it in God’s hands and patiently wait to see what he does about it.

If you are struggling with a spiritual crisis, let it simmer for a while and give yourself a break.

I believe that sometimes doing absolutely nothing is the best something to do.

And, since I try to practice what I preach, I am now going to take a break.

 

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Have a relaxing day and until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Do Referees Get More Respect than God?

How many people do you know that are more interested in watching their favorite sport on TV than going to a place of worship?

How many people do you know that spend more money on sporting event tickets, box seats, paraphernalia of their favorite team (hats, sweaters, T-shirts, etc.) than they do for charity or tithing?

How many people do you think there are who spend as much for tithing as they do when betting on a Football Pool or for their Fantasy Leagues?

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

And of all the problems with the worldwide religion called “Sports”, I think the worst one is that people will be more respectful of the rulebook for their favorite sport than they are for the rulebook God gave us.

I don’t follow or watch professional sports, even though I like sports. I have been very active in sports my whole life, but it is a past time, not an obsession.  Still and all, I will sometimes be watching something on a TV somewhere outside my home and there is a sports event on it. I see people argue with the referee or umpire, and they want things to be their own way (“I was safe”, or “How could you miss that foul?”) but, when all is said and done, the Ref gets the final word. And they accept that, or they get thrown out of the game.

Yet, when you tell the same people they shouldn’t eat pork or shellfish, they give you all types of excuses why they are allowed to. They don’t tell the ref that when they got tagged they shouldn’t be made to get off the field, but when God says don’t commit adultery, they say they are unhappy in their marriage, or their spouse doesn’t understand them, or some other excuse that they accept as a legitimate reason why they didn’t break the rules.

Some people have told me that they know what they do is OK, and that they are certain God loves them and will accept them as they are. God does love you, he loves everyone, but that doesn’t mean he will allow you to do whatever you want to do!

Now here’s the weirdest part: they know the Referee will not agree with them, but they expect that God will!  Really? They know that they have to abide with the referee’s decision because that’s what the rulebook says, but when it comes to God’s rules in the Bible, well…that’s different.

Actually, they’re correct: it is different. When you ignore the referee, the worst thing that happens is that you get thrown out of the game. You still have plenty of other games you can play in. However, when you ignore God, you don’t get thrown out of a game, you get thrown out of eternity! The Ref may send you to the showers, but God will send you to the Lake of Fire. And his ruling is forever!

Yeah- I would call that a BIG difference.

I expect an unbelieving person would ignore God without any problem, but how can anyone who professes to believe in God ignore him? As for people who are part of organized religion, Gentiles have been told God’s Torah is only for Jews and many Jews have been taught the Talmud is God’s word and takes precedence. These people may be ignoring God thinking it is OK, without really understanding the consequences of their actions. I can understand how they would think they aren’t doing anything wrong, which is the perfect example of the blind leading the blind. But as the traffic cop will tell you when you say you didn’t know the speed limit was only 35 MPH, “Ignorance of the law is no excuse for breaking the law.” And likewise, when people will be facing God (which we all will have to do at some time) and tell him, “But that’s what they always told me!”, I can’t speak for the Almighty, but I would assume he might reply with something like this:

“I understand that’s what they told you, but it is what I say that counts!”

You may have been taught that some of God’s rules are not for you, so next time you see someone arguing with the Referee please think about this: how will you convince God that his rules are wrong?

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Have a blessed day, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

How Do You Know Its Working?

I constantly try to spread the word about God, how he has positively influenced my life and what he expects of us. I try to teach people the difference between what God tells us and what religion tells us, and about the blessings we receive when we obey him. I have a website ministry, I blog, I have a Facebook page for my ministry, I have written books (no one buys) and I always try to fit something about God into nearly every conversation I have with strangers. It is like casting bait into the water: if I get a nibble, I slowly reel it in (continue the conversation) and hope to “land” someone. If the bait just sits untouched, I will cut that line, and cast it again some other time in a different location.

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

Yet, despite all that I do, day by day, I sometimes wonder if I am getting anything done at all. Do you ever feel that way? Do you question yourself about whether or not what you do to please God is enough? Have you asked yourself what else could you do? Have you ever asked yourself what else are you willing to do? (That’s a tough one to answer truthfully!)

I think it is healthy to ask these questions of ourselves on a constant basis because our life changes on a constant basis. The one thing no one should do is to harshly judge yourself or become depressed if you feel you aren’t doing what you should be doing. That is not helpful to the work we do to spread God’s kingdom.

It’s like my golf game. I enjoy the sport but allow myself to get too upset when I miss a shot. Sometimes I get so upset I end up missing the next shot because I am still teed-off (pardon the pun) about the last shot. That is just a useless expense of emotional energy. I really hate to admit this, but the other guys in my group are correct when they say if we aren’t playing in a league, just don’t keep the score and enjoy the game for what it is- a game. OY! Maybe one day I will finally learn that lesson.

If you feel like I do sometimes, and that “Is this really working?” attitude comes ’round knocking at your door, I think I have found a way to overcome it.

And it is the exact opposite of what I need to do for golf.

When you think you’re not getting anything accomplished, it’s time to start keeping score!

The last time I felt unsure if anything I was doing was really working to further God’s kingdom or to help people know the truth about God, about his word or his expectations, I sat down and thought about what I have done that has been successful. I actually came up with a few good things.

I have been asked to send my books (which I did) to a Messianic Bible study group in Uganda; my newest book is going to be used with a Facebook group that is going to start doing weekly Torah studies; I constantly receive “Likes” to the comments I make in “religious” discussion groups, which confirms that someone is learning something about God from me on a daily basis; I have friends and subscribers to my website and YouTube channel in Africa, India, Japan, Canada, and the USA.  I have over 190 Facebook friends, and most of them are not family or friends from my personal life but people who are interested in hearing what God gives me to say through my ministry. And some of them are becoming closer than just acquaintances.

So, when I started to keep score I realized I’m not doing too badly. In fact, I believe that what I am doing is working! And I know the best thing to do is trust God that he will make sure, sooner or later, if I continue to preach his word correctly and in a way that glorifies him, what I do will be effective. He tells us his word will never return void (Isaiah 55:11), so as long as I keep putting it out there, it will sprout roots and take hold in the good soil it finds.  I just need to be patiently trusting and continue to walk (or preach, as the case may be) in faith.

So, nu? As for you, keep up the good work you do for the Lord. He will encourage and support you so long as you do what you do for his glory. And it’s OK to keep score- everyone needs confirmation and a slap on the back, now and then.

And if you are sure you are doing what pleases the Lord, but no one else is willing to give you an “atta-boy!” or an “atta-girl!” your own arm is long enough to reach your back.

Thank you for your interest- please don’t hesitate to leave a comment (always be nice) or a confirmation that what I am doing is useful to you, and also please SUBSCRIBE in the right-hand margin. I would also ask that you use the link above to subscribe to my YouTube channel, as well.

May your day be blessed and until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

What Does God Really Want From Us?

I was reading Isaiah 56 the other day and thought about what he was saying.  It starts with “Here is what Adonai says:” and goes on to tell us:

Observe justice, do what is right, for my salvation is close to coming, my righteousness to being revealed. Happy is the person who does this, anyone who grasps it firmly, who keeps Shabbat and does not profane it, and keeps himself from doing evil.

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

As I was thinking about how simple a commandment this is, I realized that God really doesn’t expect or demand too much of us. Let’s take a look at what God tells us he really wants from us…

Matthew 18:4– Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 

Micah 6:8– He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.

Leviticus 19:18– Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. 

Exodus 19:5– Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. 

Deuteronomy 11:27– There will be blessing if you obey the commandments of the LORD your God that I am giving you today.

Malachi 3:10- Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.

There are many, many more instances throughout the Bible where I can find the same kind of message from God, but these should suffice to show that what God really wants is humility, love, and obedience. That’s it! That doesn’t seem to be too much, does it? It doesn’t require a PhD in Theology; you aren’t commanded to know how to pronounce God’s Holy name; there’s no extra credit for being able to read ancient Hebrew or to know Greek.

In fact, it is even easier than what we have already seen to find salvation through faith by doing what Yeshua told us to do:

Matthew 22:36-40Yeshua replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

All the law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments: what does that mean? Does that mean that loving God and others is enough? No! And the reason I say “No” is because too many people throw the word “love” around like it is a hot potato and cry at the top of their lungs how they love the Lord and they love Jesus and call each other “Brother” or “Sister”, or even “Beloved.”

Then they go home and do whatever they feel like doing, eat whatever they feel like eating, ignore the Sabbath and celebrate only those holidays that they like.

To love the Lord is to obey his commands- God told us that throughout the Tanakh and Yeshua confirmed it. Yet, even in trying to be obedient people will create their own problems.

We have seen in recent times many Gentiles desiring to get back to the Jewish Roots of Christianity because they realize just how far afield modern Christianity is from what Yeshua taught. That is a good thing. However, what is bad is that in their zeal they have created a new form of the same type of legalism that Shaul (Paul) fought against when Gentiles first started to accept Yeshua and learn about God’s instructions in the Torah.

Here is what is so remarkable about this: in the beginning, it was the Jewish Believers who were telling the Gentiles that they had to be absolutely obedient to every word of the Torah. Today, it is the Gentile Believers who are telling everyone else, including Jews, that they have to be absolutely obedient to every word of the Torah. And they have taken it one step further than that: just a few examples are arguing about lunar calendars, how we must pronounce God’s Holy Name, and why the names we have always used for God and Messiah are wrong. These matters have nothing to do with salvation, but to these people they (apparently) do.

Despite my exhaustive search throughout the Bible, I have not found where God says you must know how to pronounce his Holy Name to be saved. I found nothing that requires us to know the exact day of the week Yeshua rose from the grave to receive blessings and eternal life. I tried and tried but didn’t find even one commandment which says if we begin a Holy Festival based on a lunar calendar that isn’t the exact same one used in ancient Israel, then our celebration is unacceptable to God.

And I looked and I looked and I’m sorry, but I couldn’t find where God tells us our salvation is based on knowing anything other than that he wants us to be faithful, humble, to love each other and obey his commandments.

And, just for the record, there is no place anywhere in any Bible that says when you tell the “truth” you are allowed to be nasty, judgmental, accusatory or insulting. If you want to use that age-old, cliche’ excuse that Yeshua told it as he saw it, then first live your life exactly as Yeshua lived his. You want to talk as he did, then live as he did; if you aren’t doing that, then either be nice or shut up!

As far as serving God is concerned, I recommend using the KISS rule (Keep It Simple, Schlemiel) and just live your life trying to humbly accept God’s authority and show both God and people that you really mean it by obeying him and loving others, meaning treat all people with justice, compassion and patience.

I know that isn’t as easy to do as it sounds, but on the other hand, it ain’t that hard, either.

Thank you for being here and please go to the right-hand margin and click on the SUBSCRIBE button to be notified next time I post something. Please also go to my YouTube channel using the link above and subscribe there, as well.

I welcome any comments- just be nice- and I look forward to the next time we are together.

Until then, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!