Can I Still Go to Heaven if I Teach Others to Sin?

In Matthew we are told by Yeshua,” Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”

It seems that even if we continue to sin after being saved, we can still go to heaven. For me, that’s good news, because I know I have accepted Messiah as my Savior and King, but I still sin. His sacrifice covers it for me.

The bad news is that there are people who will take this as a license to keep sinning since His blood covers all sins. I guess they think they can do what they want and, so long as they repent on their death bed, they’ll be OK. On the other hand, in all fairness, maybe they are just like me- wanting to stop but incapable of doing so.

We are all sinners, and we can’t stop it. That’s why Yeshua had to die. If any one human being (other than the Big Guy) is capable of living a sinless life, then there is no need for a Messiah. The grading curve is busted, and the only people that will be in heaven are God, Yeshua and that one dope who ruined it for the rest of us!

But yet, if I can keep on sinning, and all that happens is that I am the least in the kingdom of heaven, heck! I’m still in heaven, right? Joshua slept at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting, Proverbs says it is better to spend one day in heaven than a thousand with sinners, so if I am the least in the kingdom, so be it. I get to live my life as I want, and still get saved. Woo-hoo!!

Sorry- not gonna happen. Yeah, it sounds like that but it doesn’t jive with the rest of the Manual. First off, Yacov (James) reminds us that faith without works is dead. If we are truly repentant, we don’t want to go on sinning. We want to change- that is what T’Shuvah means, to turn , to walk away from sinning. God is compassionate, understanding and merciful, but He’s no fool. You can’t fool Him into calling on His name (to be saved), then not changing your ways. Besides, how can you be sure you will have that “last breath” to repent with? He will come like a thief in the night, it will be like in the days of Noach…in other words, we can’t count on having that last moment of repentance. It’s now or (maybe) never because when it happens, there won’t be time to repent. Even if you mean it.

Maybe the big difference is that part about teaching others: we all continue to sin, and (thanks to Yeshua) we can always be forgiven when we ask God to do so. In Yeshua’s name (B’shem Yeshua ha Mashiach) we can be forgiven our sins, but if we teach others to sin will they be forgiven? We can intercede, we can ask God to forgive them just as Yeshua did as he was being nailed to the tree, but will that help those people? Shaul tells us we shouldn’t do anything to cause another to stumble into sin. That means to set the right example. It’s not just about teaching others in a formal classes setting  to watch out for- it’s setting the wrong example in our daily lives.

Halakah (sets of Rabbinic laws for how to live) is based on the idea that we don’t want to trespass (break) the laws of Torah. But we might, so to protect the law we build a fence around it. And, being Jewish, we ask what if I accidentally fall against the fence? What if the gate opens and I walk in without knowing? Well, the answer is to build a fence around the fence.

Yes, but what if I am driving (it’s not Shabbat) and my brakes fail and I accidentally crash into the fence and go through both? OK- let’s build a fence around the fence that is protecting the fence that is keeping us from trespassing.

Yes, but what if….ad infinitum. That is why I will tell people that I follow biblical laws and not always the Rabbinic laws. Kosher laws aren’t that hard to follow if you stick to the Bible, but the Kosher rules and regulations that are Halakha are infinitely hard to keep. I just stay away from shellfish and pork, and try not to get caught accidentally eating coney, eagle or camel. That’s not all that hard to do.

Personally, even though Yeshua tells us when we are a guest we should choose the least important seat at the table, I would rather be one of those that is considered great in the kingdom. It may be pride, and it may be (I would like to think) because it would represent that I did God’s will when I was alive. If I sin less and less, and by my example and by how I teach, I can help others to sin less and less, I will be great in the Kingdom, and it won’t be from pride but from faithful obedience.

That’s what it boils down to- faithful obedience. If you call yourself a Believer, or Born Again, or even Messianic, and you have a hunger for Torah, a terrible thirst for His word and a burning desire to sin less and less in your life, while not judging those who do sin, you are doing what the Manual (at least, as I read it) says you should be doing.

We all are sinners, from birth, living in a sinful and cursed world, and we need to be the light. We need to be the salt, and the best way to do that is to simply live a life desiring to be faithfully obedient, and acting on that desire. Wanting won’t cut it with God- you really need to act. He is not a God of waiting around, and He is not a God of wanting to have it done for you. The biggest lie anyone ever told is that Bible says God helps those that help themselves. God helps those that call on His name AND take action to be more like God wants us to be. God is a God of action, of doing and not just saying. He wants us to trust in Him, to ask Him for help, to turn to Him and not to our own devices, but always, always, always to keep moving forward. We should follow the example of Avraham Avinu (Abraham our Father) and listen to God, unhesitatingly walk in faith where he tells us to go, and maintain faithful obedience in everything we do.

Don’t live your life settling just to be in heaven- strive to be greater than that, because to do so means you are doing God’s work here on Earth. It’s not for bragging rights we should want to be among the greatest in heaven, it’s because it will represent that we served God obediently on Earth.

Who Needs a Messiah?

When I was taking courses for my Certificate in Messianic Studies, one of the questions was “Why do we need a Messiah?” At first you may think ,”What a silly question from a course that teaches about Messianic Judaism and Yeshua!”

Then, again, when you think about it, maybe it isn’t so silly because the answer is: everyone; yet, not everyone will agree. Most of the people I know who are Gentile (not Born Again) were raised being taught about Jesus and salvation their whole lives, and you would think they would know all about the need for a Messiah. But the impression I get is that they are taught that, so long as they are a good person, they get to go to heaven because Jesus died for their sins. It’s like a Third-Party Salvation, there’s no “ownership” of their own sinfulness and personal need for Yeshua. He died for their sins means that just be a good person and you’re in.

What is good? Is it being nice to people? Is it not murdering? Is it treating animals with affection? Yeshua told us- in the B’rit Chadasha (Good News, or Gospels) when a man addresses Yeshua as, “Good Rabbi”, Yeshua says, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but my Father in Heaven.” WOW!! The Messiah, the Son of God, the Suffering Servant and Victorious King says He is not good. If He’s not good, what are we? Isaiah got it right- we are worms, and our righteousness is nothing more than filthy rags (menstrual rags is the actual translation) compared to God.

We all need a Messiah to save our eternal soul. Of course, many do not believe in the concept of a “soul”. Many do not believe in God and are convinced that we are all responsible for ourselves and are accountable only to our own beliefs. Do these people need a Messiah? Of course they do, they just don’t know it!

There is a God who created everything we know, and even things we don’t know about yet. He is our Father who loves us. He is also the judge of the world, who cannot judge any way but justly, holding us all accountable for our words and actions. The Torah teaches us that if we break even one commandment we have broken them all, and we all are sinners. David tells us in Psalm 40:12 his sins are greater than the hairs on his head. This from a man G-d said was a man after His own heart! Need more?- Proverbs 20:9 asks “Who can say I am without sin?”. The answer is no one.  The Gospel story of the woman accused of adultery (John 8:7) has Yeshua asking all the “righteous” men in the town to throw a stone if they are without sin. Not even a pebble was tossed. 1 John 1:8 sums it up for all of us- if we claim to be without sin we are just deceiving ourselves.

We all have sin, and are sinners from the moment we were born, born into a sinful world. The only way we can be cleansed of our sin, and thereby be with God, is to atone through the shedding of innocent blood (Lev. 17:11). The problem is that this atonement was to be made at the Temple, which no longer exists. This leaves us in a quandary- we need to atone but cannot do so because the physical Temple of God is no longer in existence. So where can we turn to? We can turn to the Messiah, who was the atonement for our sin (Isaiah 53). Only through Him can our sins be atoned for in accordance with the sacrificial system God put in place from the beginning of time.

So the answer to the question, “Why do people need a Messiah?” is this: to atone for the sin we all have so that we can be in the presence of God through all time. It is up to those of us who understand this to help those who do not acknowledge it to see the truth of God’s Plan of Salvation, the means of how we are saved, and thereby expose the lies of the Enemy that they have been taught to believe.

The Enemy Within

{Please allow me to do more of an opinion piece than a Bible study today, although it does speak to our eternal needs.}

Let me start off by saying that I am not fixed on TV- I am transfixed by it. I grew up eating dinner watching George Reeves as Superman saving the world, with Batman and Robin fighting evil (dahdah-dahdah-dahdah-dahdah….BATMAN!!!)

Today, my wife has a small mirror attached to a long handle to put under my nose when I’m watching TV to check if I am still breathing.

I don’t like most of what’s on, and we watch mostly animal shows and cop shows, with an regular flip to the Discovery and History channels. Like most Americans, we spend about $100 a month to have more channels than we can count, none of which have anything really worth watching. It’s like Imelda Marcos going into her closet and saying, “I can’t find a pair of shoes I like.” (that really dates me!)

So, why am I rambling about TV? Because I grew in a time when we practiced going into the hallway at school and putting our head between our knees waiting for the bomb to land. Yet, despite the threat of “Commies” everywhere destroying our nation, it was not the Communist threat that destroyed the American family, it was the TV.  That little electronic box sitting in the family room that dominated our attention.

At first TV was a form of entertainment. It was too expensive for most people and advertisers were hard to find. Stereotypes were not just accepted, they were exploited so that people, like sheep, were led to believing that what they saw on TV was real life. The TV slowly grew into including a VCR, then DVD and cable shows. Again, at first the cable was new because you paid for it.You paid so that you didn’t have to watch all the stupid commercials (although some are funny). Today we pay through the nose for our cable and it has as many, if not more, commercials than old TV did. My gosh- even the movie theaters have TV commercials now!

So, where is the threat? It’s right there- in front of you! It’s what we are watching. Soaps demonstrate the lowest of human degradation; the “reality” shows are disgusting displays of how low people will sink, airing out their dirty laundry to the world, so that the public can feel better about themselves by knowing they don’t weigh 650 pounds, or hoard until their house is condemned, or act like Diva’s. And the movies that eventually show on TV are about vampires that are really loving and compassionate, and witches that are just regular girls trying to make their way through the world.

Don’t forget about the video games we play on the TV- Grand Theft Auto, where children are rewarded for stealing cars and causing civil mayhem. All the zombie killings and war-related games. Aliens that are always aggressive and have to be shot and blown up. Killing, destruction, mayhem…and it’s all for the kiddies. Didn’t someone say that a child shall lead them? Maybe there are two sides to that thought- there was a child who led us to salvation, so could there be another child who will lead us to destruction? If so, he or she is being trained now, with every minute in front of the TV set or on-line playing games.

Violence, sex, lying, deceit, self-importance…Bridezilla’s, Cops, Hoarders, Bar Rescue, Diva’s, Jersey Girls, and on and on and on. It’s all just drek!! (Yiddish for garbage)  Try , just try, to find a news station showing anything but murder, theft, sex scandals or horrible things happening to people. And let’s not ignore Televangelists! Sorry- but I don’t think God is really going to heal you if you touch the TV, and why do I have to send a check just so that the “Right Reverend” will pray for me?

TV has become a bane of our society, and I am just as guilty as anyone- even more so because I think I realize what it is really all about, but I haven’t stopped.

TV transmissions go through the air, and the Bible calls Ha Satan the “prince of the air”. Get it?

I will continue to watch TV, although I am trying to get away from it. It is a terrible habit, just like any other sin- it appeals to our lowest nature and is hedonistic. Anything but Godly.

Just like Shaul said, I do what I don’t want to do and don’t do what I want to.

I want to spend more time with my wife, maybe playing Scrabble or talking, or sitting in the hot tub (yes, we have one- it came with the house. It’s soooo nice after a rough day) or just sitting next to each other. We have tried, and for awhile we will set up the dinning room table for dinner and not have the TV on, but it is just so easy to sit there and watch while we eat and all we need is one time to say, “Let’s just eat watching TV tonight” an that’s it- back to the old habit .

Sin is just that way- it is easy, comfortable, and like a barbed hook: once it is in you it just keeps digging itself in deeper each time you try to remove it.

Will I get rid of the TV? Will I cancel the TV part of my ISP bundle and throw away the remote? (OH NO!!! PLEASE- not the remote!) Doubtful. I am stuck, like everyone else.

The best I can do (hopefully, if you agree with me, you can do better than I do) is become more selective about what I watch, not buy products that advertise for smut and Devil-related shows, and try to eat out on the porch or anywhere else but in front of the TV.

TV, movies and video games are teaching our children that satanic creatures are not just OK, they are actually cool, they have superpowers and we want to be like them; robbery and murder have no consequences, killing gets you a reward and if you are killed you just reload the game; and they are honored for being more treacherous and violent than the next  guy.

And  by our own choice we allow this dangerous and harmful thing in the center of our family, introducing our children to it before they are even old enough to know right from wrong.

Something to think about.

 

Spiritual Aspirin

When someone hurts us by being cruel, or spiteful, or just by accident, it is hard to let it go. I know about this because I have been hurt, and seen my children used and abused (given medications they didn’t need and emotionally conditioned) as an attempt to “get back” at me. Now they don’t even want any part of me, except my money. Yeah- it’s OK to send them money but don’t have any other contact.

Sorry, kids- Luv ‘ya but it don’t work that way.

I am sure many of you have had similar experiences- shunned at work, exploited at home, maybe much worse. By strangers or friends, or even family.

It hurts and all we want to do is make it stop hurting. But how?

The cure is almost harder to accept than the hurt: we need to forgive. Forgiving the person who hurts us is, really, the only way to make the pain go away. You may always be a little “sore” but the pain will fade as you get better at forgiving.

“That jerk doesn’t deserve my forgiveness! Don’t hold your breath waiting for me to forgive them.”  Understood. Acknowledged, and I will even go as far as to say I know just how you feel. But it’s not your choice- God commands us to forgive. In Mattiyahu (Matthew) we are told that if we don’t forgive on Earth our Heavenly Father will not forgive us. And the Lord’s Prayer asks God to forgive us as we forgive others; in other words, measure out to us as we measure out to others. That means if we don’t, He won’t. Hmm….maybe I should revisit my attitude.

In Proverbs we are told that we should give our enemies food and drink, and it will be like pouring hot coals on their head. The idea (I think) is not to be vengeful but to wake them up- make them suffer the indignity of what they did to us by being compassionate to them. Perhaps they will do T’Shuva, and save themselves from Sheol.

In Ezekiel God says He gets no pleasure from seeing the sinner die; rather, he would prefer that the sinner turn from his sinful ways and live. Aren’t we supposed to be holy, as He is holy? We can get closer to God by forgiving.

To err is human; to forgive, Divine. DUH !!!

The other thing to remember is that Proverbs tells us not to return evil for evil, but wait upon the Lord. He will judge. If you think that someone doesn’t deserve forgiveness, you are actually taking the place of God. Not something He is very likely to appreciate, ya know?

I have found, for myself, that forgiveness is one of the hardest things I have to do as a Believer. I discovered something that makes it easier, and I would like to share that with you, hopefully to make it easier for you, too.

Pray for them. That’s right- pray earnestly for the people who hate you and have done you wrong; who have hurt you; who have hurt those you love. When I pray for them, I don’t ask God to forgive them because that decision is actually between them and God. That’s not my place to tell God what to do, but I can ask Him to help them come to Him. I pray they find salvation.

Another way I help myself into being able to pray for someone who has hurt me is to look into the future, and imagine what that person will be facing when they come to judgement. The hurt they caused is finite, and the quicker I pray for them and forgive them for what they did to me, the quicker I will stop hurting. Emotional pain is like a log in my eye: when I remove the log (through forgiveness) I can see the truth about what they will have to endure, for all Eternity. That certainly is nothing compared to what they did to me, which will be nothing more than a faded memory, if even that, when I come into His Glory in the Acharit HaYamim.

It sounds easy enough, but so does anything else until you try it. Truth is, I still get angry and feel the pain of certain things. Deep cuts take a long time to heal, and they always leave a scar. But with God’s help (yes, you most certainly can ask God to help you forgive), the guidance found in His Word, and the peace I receive from the Ruach, I am getting better and better at forgiving.

The more I forgive, the less it hurts. Forgiveness is spiritual aspirin that makes the pain go away.

Here’s another way to look at it: when you forgive something it is easier to forget about it. When you don’t forgive, you end up reliving it, and the pain just keeps coming back. It’s like tearing off the scab before it can heal. And here’s a hard truth that you must accept- if you keep reliving the pain, it is not their fault anymore! That’s right- they hurt you, that was a one-time deal. If the person, or people, hurt you over and over, it is still the same thing.  Each time you relive it, you are now the one hurting yourself. Now it’s your fault, not theirs. Rehearsing our anger is like throwing gasoline on a fire about to die.

If you want to stop hurting, you need to stop reliving the event and forgive the person. Start out by praying for their salvation, and move on. Let their ultimate forgiveness stay between them and God; you do what is right in God’s eyes regarding your own actions. He wants…no, He commands… you to forgive those who hurt you. Obey the Lord. It ain’t easy! Man-o-Manischevitz , it is hard to do!  But do it, we must.

Forgiveness is the only way to make the hurt go away. I know it’s a lousy turn of events. First this piece of work, this sorry excuse for a human being, this so-and-so does horrible things to me and now God tells me I have to forgive them. And if I don’t, I will never feel better. It sounds like a no-win situation.

It’s not; in fact, it’s a win-win because when you forgive you not only make the hurt go away, but you receive God’s blessings in your life. He will bless you for your obedience, and you will be so much better off that you will even start to think (maybe) that the sin against you was itself a blessing in disguise because of the spiritual maturity it helped you to achieve.

Okay, maybe that’s a little far-fetched. But not too much.

Look back in your life and see if there are still scabs that are haven’t healed, wounds festering in your heart and hurts that won’t go away. Pray for that person who sinned against you and see if you don’t feel better. Do it honestly, do it heart-fully, do it trustingly. I really believe that you will feel better, because it has worked for me.

Take spiritual aspirin and call on Him in the morning.

No Statute of Limitations on God’s Commandments

One of the favorite Biblical quotes for people who are (what I like to call) “Buffet Believers” is from Mattityahu (Matthew). It’s when Yeshua tells His Talmudim that He came to fulfill the law.

I have heard Christian teachings interpret this statement that having fulfilled the law meant it has been completed, thereby doing away with it. This misinterpretation is then confirmed, incorrectly, with Shaul’s writings in Romans, where he is writing to justify the validity of Torah but it has constantly and historically been used as a polemic against Torah, instead of the apologetic it was designed to be. They also use statements taken out of context in other Epistles. They uniformly forget the statements that remind us we are still to obey God’s commandments, such as some found in Timothy and throughout Shaul’s letters.

The truth is that the commandments in the Torah (all 613 of them) are just as valid today as they were when Moshe brought them to the people. There is no statute of limitations on God’s commandments. They are “throughout your generations.” That is pretty clearly another way of saying forever. And anyone who teaches that the laws found in Torah are only for Jews and not for Christians is teaching you a lie from the pit of Sheol. And, by the way, Yeshua warned that those who transgress the law and teach others to do so will be least in the Kingdom of Heaven.

There’s a lot in that one statement to think about; for me, mainly, it seems to imply that even if I sin and teach others to sin, I can still be in the Kingdom of Heaven. Can that be true? Maybe we can discuss that another time.

The true interpretation of what Yeshua said about fulfilling the law can only be realized within the proper context; in this case, a cultural and linguistic context. In First Century “Rabbi-speak” to fulfill the law meant to interpret it correctly. To transgress the law, or trespass against it, meant to misinterpret it. Funny how people like to say, “Yeshua said He fulfilled the law, so since He completed it we are now saved by His sacrifice and not by Torah. We are Born Again! We don’t need Torah.”

OK. So, if Torah is not needed anymore, can I sleep with your wife? If you don’t like that, can I kill you so you’re out of the way? If I like your car, can I steal it? What? No? Am I crazy? All those things are a sin? But you just said the Torah was done away with!  Oh- not all the Torah.  I see, we are only subject to the moral laws, but not the ceremonial ones (that’s another wrong teaching.) I see….so, nu? Who can tell me which is a moral law and which is ceremonial?

Usually the moral laws are the ones that we have to follow because they are civil laws, too, but anything dealing with what we don’t want to do, like give up shrimp cocktails before our ham dinner, well, that’s a ceremonial law.

I wonder why God, in all His wisdom, didn’t mention that when He told us how to live? As I recall, all God said was do this and don’t do that. No separation of moral, civil, ceremonial, or whatever; it’s His way or the hell-way. That’s it.

Did you ever think about this: if God said the commandments are valid forever, and Yeshua taught that they are no longer valid, doesn’t that mean Yeshua called God a liar? That Yeshua, the Son of God, sinned by not respecting his Father because He taught us to do things that the Father said not to do. And, if Yeshua was a sinner, His death could not be an acceptable sacrifice, so our promise of salvation is unfounded and we are not saved! 

Not a very pleasant thought, is it? But, if you want to go around saying that Yeshua fulfilled the law and did away with Torah, that Believers are not subject to the laws God gave us, that you are under the blood and not under the law…well, I hope you have a high tolerance to heat.  

That’s why I call those people Buffet Believers- they pick what they like and leave what they don’t like. I feel bad for them, because they are being taught incorrectly, and like innocent sheep just enjoying the grass, they are eating their way right into the wolf’s den.

It’s really quite simple- God gave us rules, regulations, mitzvot, and commandments: none of which are subject to choice. He said do these and we will be blessed, don’t do them and we will suffer curses. And these laws are for us to follow throughout our generations (look it up- check me out and make sure I am stating this accurately), which doesn’t mean until Yeshua comes.

It’s true that Torah cannot justify us: not because Torah is invalid or done away with, but because we can’t live up to Torah. Even though there is nothing too difficult for us to do in Torah, because we can’t overcome our sinful nature we can’t live Torah correctly. As Shaul said, Torah was a guardian, and it defined for us the difference between sin and holiness. Yeshua died because we couldn’t live under Torah correctly. He didn’t do away with Torah, He lived Torah correctly. He was an example to follow, he showed us the way- you don’t show how to do something so that no one ever does it, do you? If I showed you the safe passage in a mine field, would you then feel that you can walk anywhere in that field you wanted to?  BOOM!!!

Look, when you find the passage I am referencing in Mattiyahu, check out the very next statement Yeshua makes. After He says He came to fulfill the law, He continues to say that not one single stroke, i.e. letter, of the Torah is changed. Duh!! Yeshua said He didn’t come to change Torah, and He also said nothing will change in Torah until the Acharit Hayamim (End Days) are done.

If you are waiting to be “released” from the Torah, you will need to wait a while longer. The only Torah commandments we don’t perform are the 1/3 or so of them that deal with the sacrificial system because, for one, the Temple where the sacrifice was to be made is gone (so we can’t perform the commandment) and, two, because the ultimate and final sacrifice was made through Yeshua’s death. Those are the only Torah commandments we are exempt from following today- everything else is valid. Sorry- too bad. No more pork rinds watching basketball, Shabbat starts Friday night, Christmas and Easter are out for the remainder of the game.

If you want to please God, if you want to receive His blessings, if you want to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, then do so. Read the Torah, follow the Torah, stop pretending you’re at some restaurant buffet table and realize that you are an honored guest at God’s table. Yeshua told His Talmudim, when He sent them out to the surrounding cities and towns, that when they are in someone’s house they should eat what they are given. God’s table is set with all types of food (commandments), and we are to eat what He provides.

It’s impolite to tell God, “No thanks- I don’t like that.”

 

 

Seek and Ye Shall Find

To those of you who have decided to follow along, and for those of you who look now and then, my great appreciation goes out to you. I pray this ministry is acceptable and useful to you in maturing your relationship with God.

Today I would like to explain why you will rarely see me give chapter and verse. It’s not because I am lazy, and it’s not because I don’t know them (although I don’t always remember each one).

It’s because people are lazy. We are all sheep, easily led astray (OK, I will tell you that one is in Elijah) and that is why so many people are blind followers being led by blind leaders who just repeat what they have been told, over and over. No one goes to the Manual to see for themselves. People leave synagogue or church and say,”What a great message!” but they don’t go home and verify what they heard in the Bible. I will not foster or enable spiritual laziness.

This is a hard word, but I challenge anyone out there to tell me I am wrong. To tell me that they don’t know people who profess to love the Lord, and even do good things in His name, but only read what they are told to read and follow where they are told to go. Yeshua said when the blind lead the blind, they both fall into a pit.

I don’t think I am blind, but if I am to look for the log in my own eye, I start with a handicap, don’t I? I mean…I have a log in my eye! Geeze- how can I see straight if I have this log in my eye?

That’s why I read the Manual (with my good eye, of course) and try to always let the Ruach lead me. I listen, with attentiveness and respect, to the teachings I receive from those I trust, and from some extra-biblical books. There is always something more I can learn. What I want to get from my studies, more than anything, is what God has for me. And what He has, He has in the Bible. That is His word, His personality, His spiritual truth. It’s all there. And if I want to know it, I need to read it, to research it, to absorb it. I need to try as best I can to allow God to do what He said He will do for me- write His Torah on my heart (you should find that one yourself. I’ll give you a hint: the New Covenant is not in the New Covenant.)

No one else, and I mean no one, can tell me what God has for me. Only the Holy One of Israel, the Lord God, can tell me what He has for me, and He does that through His word and through His Ruach.

That’s why I won’t tell you where these lessons are, and I challenge you to take the time to find them. They are there, but I can only tell you what God tells me it means.

If you want to know what God is saying to you, go to His word and find out.What’s so wonderful….scratch that, start over…One of the many things that is so wonderful about the Bible is that it never says anything just once. Every lesson, every truth, everything that is important is repeated, over and over, in the different stories, the historical events, and the words of the Prophets throughout the book. Old or new, there is no difference- it is all the word of God, and the lessons are there, over and over. You need to look for them, because where I find one lesson is not necessarily where you will find it. And where you find it may be the best place for you to receive what God wants YOU to know.

I can find many places where we are told to love the Lord, and many places where we are told to love each other, and many places where we see the attributes of God (the best known place is in Exodus- see if you can find it) and it is important that you know where they are, too. But don’t find them because I tell you where to look: find them for yourself through the leading of the Ruach HaKodesh. .

Shaul told one of the Kehillot (the Christian version of this word is “church”) that they should be ready for meat, but they are still only able to drink milk. You, my friends, my brothers and sisters, need to have meat. If you are new to Yeshua, new to salvation, then milk is right for you, and that is why I do give hints about where to look, but good habits should be developed early on.  So, if you are new to salvation, please learn now to seek and find the Lord’s meanings and truths the way you need to- on your own. If you are given a lesson or teaching and told where it is, seek it out and make sure that what God told the person teaching is the lesson He has for you from that message. I can give a great lesson, but you may get a greater understanding when you look for it yourself in His word and let the Ruach tell you what it means for you.

I can only plant the seed; you need to water it with the Living Water of Life, Yeshua ha Mashiach. Let God talk to you, let Him confirm to you, personally, what I may be saying to you through this ministry. Let your Rabbi be the Lord of Hosts, Himself. He wants to tell you something, and you can’t really hear it that well if I am talking, also. So, listen to what I say, if you want, if it empowers you, if it sounds to you like I am saying things that are right in God’s eyes . Lord knows, I pray He approves of what I do in His Name every day.

Then, go ask the Lord what He says about it. Get a second opinion from the One who has the only opinion that really matters.

 

Forgiveness is For Later

The Bible says that all who call on the name of the Lord will be saved. That’s comforting to know, but what does it mean, really?

It doesn’t mean that you are going to be free of the consequence of your sin. At least, not until you are dead.

Oh, my! That’s not quite as comforting. Can’t we change that? Sorry, no. Forgiveness of sins is something that God does for us, and through the sacrifice of Messiah Yeshua we are all able to ask for, and receive, forgiveness of sins. But the actual, temporal consequences of our sins are something we can’t avoid. When we sin, it is always, and foremost, against God. The next level is against someone else. When God forgives us, it is the sin against Him for which we are forgiven, and that forgiveness will be realized most when we meet Him at Judgement Day.

In the meantime, we have to deal with what we did, here and now. Look at David, who sinned against God (he knew the proper order, as you can see in Psalm 51), against Bathsheba, and against Urriah.  The result of his sin was the birth of a baby boy, and the consequence of his sin was the death of the innocent baby.

Sin is bad, and the worst part (I think) is that the one who seems to suffer the most from my sin is the one I sin against. Sometimes it’s just an innocent. Well, wait a minute! That kinda makes sense, doesn’t it? Not that this is a good thing, but doesn’t the Manual require the blood, i.e. the very life, of an innocent to atone for sin?  Isn’t that absolutely clear? You would think that knowing this we would be more careful, right? On the other hand, sinfulness implies that the person doing the sinning doesn’t really care, doesn’t it?

I sin, and I don’t want to. I know I am a sinner, the Bible tells me everyone sins, we are all born with a sinful nature (whether the Christian thought of original sin or the Talmudic thought of the Yetzer Hara), and we have no hope for overcoming this ourselves. God knew that from the beginning, which is why we can see His promise of a Messiah all the way back to Abraham. The Old Covenant tells us what happened right up to before Messiah comes, and the New Covenant tells us of the Messiah and what will happen when it all comes to an end. That’s one of the many things I love about the Bible,: it takes us from the very beginning to the very end, from what has happened to what will happen, and all the time we see what it is like, even today, in how things and people were then.

Hmmmm….that sounds like “was, is, and shall be”. That should sound familiar to you: it is how we describe God. He was, He is, and He always shall be.  Yochanan (John) tells us (at the beginning of his Gospel) there was the Word, and the Word became flesh. In the D’var Adonai (Word of God) we see this description of the Almighty, and the Word tells us of what was, which we can relate to what is now, and it also describes what will be.

Nice correlation, don’t you think?

Anyway, back to sin.

This is an easy lesson for us to learn. The consequence of our sin is twofold: there is the immediate, earthly consequence and the future, spiritual consequence. We are saved from the spiritual punishment sin deserves by Messiah, but there is no escape from the physical, here and now, consequence. The person(s) sinned against will suffer, and (hopefully) the sinner will also suffer. I don’t mean that as a vengeful statement, but as a hopeful one- if the sinner feels the pain of the sin he or she committed, then there is a hope for the future. Maybe they will do T’Shuvah and save themselves. For the sinner that doesn’t care, the future will only get darker.

I don’t think that anyone who sins against God and doesn’t care is really going to feel the pain of their sin, whereas I know, for a fact, that others will feel it. We need to first and foremost ask forgiveness from God, then we need to ask it from those we have sinned against.

With the approach of Rosh Hashanah, I am reminded of a tradition performed at this festival. We are to go to those we may have sinned against and ask for forgiveness. It is an old Jewish tradition, and for those who don’t think that Yeshua did Jewish things, read Matthew 5:24. Yeshua tells the people to do exactly what this tradition says to do. It’s as I always say (besides “God has no religion”): there is nothing “new” in the New Covenant.

Those of you who think that you may have sinned against someone, either in word or thought or deed, go ask for forgiveness. First from God, then from the person. If your heart is truly repentant, God will grant you forgiveness when you ask in the name of Yeshua Ha Mashiach. However, you don’t know what will happen when you go to the human being you sinned against. That person may not forgive you; in fact, you may get a real tongue-lashing. Accept it, and move on. You did right in God’s eyes by asking for forgiveness, and you will do much, much better in His eyes when you forgive those who sinned against you. It doesn’t matter whether they ask you or not. You are commanded, as we all are, to forgive. Check it out in Matthew 6:14-15. There are other places, too, throughout the Tanakh and B’rit Chadashah: check it out for yourself.

Since we are commanded to forgive, if we don’t forgive, we are actually sinning, aren’t we? Isn’t a sin defined as doing something God said not to do?  If so, then is not doing something God said we should do the same thing? A sin? I think so…what do you think?

Heck, why argue? Just forgive; if for no other reason, it is the only way to make the pain go away. Anywho, this is getting into a totally different topic.

Sin stinks. It reeks to High Heaven. Fortunately, God provided a way for us to avoid the Eternal consequences of our sins. Praise Him and thank you, Yeshuah!

In the meantime, be careful. Guard your tongue, control your feelings, always pray to Adonai that He guide you with the Ruach HaKodesh. And if you haven’t accepted your own sinfulness and come before Yeshua asking for Him to intercede with God, you better hurry up. The times, they are a’changin’, and not for the better.  Think about it: since the End Days are in the future, that means every day brings us closer, not further, from the time we will all face God at His judgement throne.  If Yeshua isn’t your defence attorney(everyone wants a Jewish lawyer) , you is in big trouble!

 

Where’s Your Bible?

I suppose that just about everyone reading this ministry blog has a Bible, aka The Manual. If you are reading this and you don’t have one, please find one. You can always go online to Bible study sites, but it is best if you have one in your hand, paper and binding, so that you hold it. It is to be loved and cherished, and you can’ t do that with an I-pad. Also, I challenge everyone to not take what I say as true, but to look it up in the Manual and verify for yourself the veracity of what I say. I try to discipline myself to never teach about what is in the Bible that you can’t go in there and find for yourself, and I pray that God leads my teachings to reflect only what is right in His eyes. Besides that, you need to develop the habit of checking what you are told.

Someone once told me never believe what you hear, and I took it with a grain of salt. 

So, nu? Where’s your Bible? Is it on a shelf? Is it in a place of honor (collecting dust)? Wanna know where mine is? 

It’s in my bathroom. That’s right- right there on top of the toilet covering the Readers Digest from April of 1995. 

Oy! How disrespectful! How could you do that to the Word of God? 

Before I answer that, let me ask you, “Is it really disrespectful to keep my Bible in the bathroom?” I am sure some of you will say yes, and some will say no, and some just won’t know. That’s how it is with questions.

As you are thinking about your answer, let me submit what I think is the most disrespectful way to keep your Bible: to keep it closed. Whether on a shelf, prominently displayed in a case, or under the table leg to keep the table steady, in my opinion not reading your Bible is disrespectful to the Word of God. He gave us His word so we would know how to worship, how to live, and (consequently) how to be saved from ourselves. He tells us how we got here, where we are going, and about Messiah, who will lead us to Him, forever. It’s all there, but it’s useless if you don’t read it.

“Oh, but I go to church every Sunday”, or “I attend synagogue every Shabbat. When I’m there they tell me what it says.” Lazybones! That’s not going to float your Salvation, Brothers and Sisters. You need to read it, for yourself. You need to let the Ruach guide you. There are three levels of understanding when reading the Bible: the P’Shat (written word- that’s all you get when you listen to someone else read the Bible), the Drash (this is like reading between the lines- it is a hidden message that the Ruach makes clear to you), and the Sud ( this is a deeply spiritual, almost mystical understanding that comes from Ruach-led reading and a deep knowledge of the Word). 

I don’t believe you can really get the deepest and most fulfilling understanding of what God wants to tell you if you don’t hold the book in your hands and read it. 

“But I am sooooooo busy! I have my job, I work out, and then the kids take up all my free time. I really want to read the Bible every day, that’s my intention, but I just don’t get to it.”

Every hear this old adage: The road to hell is paved with good intentions? 

Look, I had kids, I worked a job with a 2-hour commute (one-way) and I know what “too pooped to poop” means. So, take the Bible to work and read it on the train or bus. If you drive, take it to work and read it during your break or lunch.

Or, do what I do- leave it in the bathroom. The Bathroom! Ah, yes! The one and only place where everybody can be guaranteed about 10 minutes of peace and quiet every day, alone with their thoughts. That’s why I keep my Bible in the bathroom. I read at least one chapter every time I…, well, let’s just say I read a chapter daily.

Is this a disrespectful place ? I dunno! Maybe it is, but it is not disrespectful that I read His word every day. And it is not disrespectful that I come to Him as humbled as can be (what’s more humble than on a toilet seat?) I can even say every day I come before His throne while on my throne.

Ouch!! Okay, maybe that was a little too far.  🙂

Seriously, though, I do not believe it disrespectful, otherwise I certainly wouldn’t do it. And because of where I keep my Bible, I easily get to read a chapter or two every day. I like to go in order, from the beginning of Genesis straight through to the end of Revelations. When I reach the end, I do what every Jewish person does on Simchat Torah, which is to take great joy in turning back the Torah (in my case, I go to the front of the book) and starting all over again. I don’t like the idea of these daily devotionals that skip around and jump all over the book. I know that it is OK to do so, in that what I read in one place will confirm what I read in other places (this is known as hermeneutics), but the book has a rhythm, a pace, and a hierarchy. How can I really feel the pain of watching Judea fall deeper and deeper into sin as we approach the end of 2 Kings if I am in 2 Kings, then John I, then Leviticus, then Mark, then…then…then…?  I want to feel the joy as God reveals Himself and I want to feel the pain as we fall further and further from His grace through our own sin. I don’t want to just have someone tell me what it says, I want to live it. I want to experience the full emotions of the history of my salvation. I can only get that from reading it and letting the Ruach Ha Kodesh lead my understanding. After more than 17 years of being saved and having read the Bible cover to cover dozens of times, I still get chills and cry at certain parts. And I thank God that I do: I don’t ever want to become inured to His word.

I’ll ask again: where’s your Bible? If you aren’t reading a chapter every day, and it’s not in the bathroom, maybe you should put it there?

Who Really Killed Jesus?

Growing up during the 50’s and 60’s I often was called “Christ Killer” by those nice Catholic kids from Christ the King High School. I didn’t know the Lord, but knew enough to counter with, “If Jesus came to die for your sins, then all we Jews did was complete God’s plan- you should be thanking us!”

It’s funny that with so little understanding I actually wasn’t that far from the truth.

It’s indisputable that the Romans killed Jesus. After all, Pilate condemned him, the soldiers flogged him and they nailed him to the tree.

Oh, but wait a minute…. Pilate wanted to set Him free and the Jews said to crucify Him in place of Barrabus. So it really was the Jews who killed Jesus.

Oh, but wait a minute… it wasn’t “The Jews” that killed Him, for there were (probably) more than 250,000 followers, nearly all of whom were Jewish, so it wasn’t really the entire Jewish population. In fact, the trial was illegal under Jewish law, so it was really just a few politically empowered people that rallied the mob, using mob mentality, that caused Pilate to succumb to their demands. It was just the Pharisees and Sadducees leaders that killed Jesus.

Oh, but wait a minute…Herod could have set Him free but he chose not to, so really Herod was the reason Yeshua was killed- Herod did it!

Oh, but wait a minute…Yeshua said that if He wanted to, he could have had God send legions of angels to protect and save Him, and He had been telling the Talmudim (Students / Apostles) for days that He would be handed over to the Goyim (Nations) and caused to suffer and die, and that this had to happen. So Yeshua actually committed suicide! Sort of like when people shoot at the police to get the police to kill them because they can’t shoot themselves.

Oh, but wait a minute…we always say that,  “He died for our sins”. So then, actually, we all killed Him.

Now we’re getting close.

Here is the definitive, correct, and absolutely valid answer to the age-old question, “Who Killed Jesus?”: I did. That’s right- it was me. Me, and me alone.

Whoa! Stop the music! C’mon, Steve- you weren’t even born then!  That’s right, I wasn’t even born then. But I am a sinner. I was born into sin, my nature is to sin, I have sinned, I still sin (thanks to the Ruach and my love for the Lord, I sin a lot less and am getting better at not sinning) and I can guarantee that no matter how hard I try, I will continue to sin until I am dead.

The purpose of the Messiah is to bring us all back into relationship with the Almighty. That is a simple, but (I think you’ll agree) accurate description of His purpose. Since God cannot abide or even be in the presence of sin, the sacrificial death of the Messiah is what cleanses us of our sins. By this cleansing we can now approach God. Messiah comes, Messiah dies, we are cleansed by His blood sacrifice, we now have a right relationship with God and can be in His presence. Job done.

I think the expression “He died for our sins” is misleading and is designed to make us feel good about ourselves, like , “Oh, I’m really a good person and good people get to go to heaven.”

What a crock!

Yeshua died for my sins! If the rest of the world was sinless, if every single person born before me and after me lived a Torah-perfect life, Yeshua would still have given up His majesty, taken on a mantle of flesh, lived a Torah-perfect life, died a painful and torturous death, and bled out His last drop of blood…for ME! I believe, absolutely, He would have done that just for me. Doesn’t He tell us so? In the parable about the man who had 100 sheep and if missing one would leave the other 99 to find the missing one. And when he finds the one missing and brings it back, he is overjoyed. And the parable about the woman missing a valuable coin. Upon finding it she is so happy she entertains people at a party (I’m taking some cultural liberties here) to celebrate.

Yeshua did what He did not for us, but for me. It is soooo important that each one of us understand this, because we need to own our sin. We each need to own-up to our failure to live as God wants. Not to beat ourselves up (that is from the Enemy), but to really understand how much Yeshua went through for my sake. Yes, for your sake too, but it is absolutely essential I feel that He did it for me.

Why? Because when we “own” our sin, we can give it away. You can’t really give away something you don’t own, so to give up our sin we need to first own it. The “religious world” teaches everything about sin in a third-party format. Sin is shared with others. He died for our sins, We are saved, by his blood we are freed.  I think this is a bad teaching because when you are part of a crowd you don’t feel individually responsible. You don’t have that sense of personal accountability for what happened, and your devotion cannot be as strong as when it is you, and you alone.

That is why I killed Yeshua. It was my fault he had to die because I needed to be able to escape the spiritual consequences of my sins. The physical and immediate consequences of sin are inescapable. Messiah didn’t die so I won’t have to face the results of my sins in this world (there’s an entire Drash on this topic- I’ll have to make a note to do that one) but so that I won’t have to suffer for them throughout Eternity. It is my fault He died, He died for my sins, I killed Him. I own my sin, and that’s why I can give it to Him.

You need to own your sin. You need to accept that you are a sinner. I know many people who think (because it’s what they have been taught) that if they are a “good person” they get to go to heaven. I feel so bad for them. They don’t own their sin, they see it as something that, frankly, isn’t a problem because it’s all covered. Jesus has their back, and it’s all third-party, non-committal understanding. It’s not really them. It’s everyone else. It’s also a lie from the pit of Sheol (Hell) and I feel so bad for them because they have a really nasty reality check coming up.

I have rambled a little bit more than usual. I keep repeating this over and over, that we need to own our sin, we need to feel personally responsible for Yeshua’s death, we need to understand that He would have done this just for me, or for you, even if no one else on Earth needed it. We need to feel this way so that our commitment to Him is solid, built on rock, and with deep roots. When a person feels that they are just a part of a group, it is easy to place the onus on the group. That’s mob mentality. When it comes to my salvation, I am the only one responsible for it.

My salvation is between me and Messiah Yeshua, and no one else. He died because I needed Him to do so, because I can’t be Torah-perfect. It’s because of me He died, which means I killed Jesus.

I pray that you, every single, individual person reading this Drash today, will walk away with the absolute conviction to say, “I killed Jesus. He died for me, and because of me. No one else is involved.”

Feel it, believe it, own it.

Are You Saved Because You’re Selfish?

Huh? What you talkin’ about?  I’m saved by the promise of the Almighty. Yeshua died for me. I called on the name of the Lord and He saved me. God loves me.

Yadda-yadda-yadda.

Oh, yes, it is true that Yeshua died so we could be saved, that God is forgiving and loves us, that all who call on His name will be saved, and all that other stuff that makes us feel warm and cozy inside.

But are you saved because you love the Lord or because the Lord loves you? That’s the question we need to ask ourselves. Too often I hear people that are talking about salvation and how God loves everyone. It’s all about how God loves them. But here’s what I think, and maybe it’s just me, but I think we should love the Lord because of who He is and not because of what He does for us.

God deserves our love. God is worthy of our devotion, obedience and worship. He does love us, but does He really love us as we are? For what we are? I don’t think it’s quite as “rosy” as all that; after all, he does require us to obey Him. And I don’t think anyone will argue that when God commands us to “be holy for I am holy” that He is asking us to change.

That’s right- let it sink in. God loves us as we are and for who we are, but He wants us to be different if we are to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. C’mon, get real- we are sinners. Throughout the Manual we are told that everyone is a sinner, and that God is holy, so if we want to be with God, and God is holy, we need to be holy. Right? God can’t abide sin, so we need to be sinless to be with Him.

When Yeshua died for us His death atoned for our sin. That is how we get to be with God, but it’s not a ticket to continue sinning. We still have to die to self, to allow the Ruach to guide us, to be different than we were before we were “saved.”

I hear people talking and preaching and ministering to others, talking all about how God loves you and forgives you. What they are selling is Dr. Feelgood; snake-oil salespeople getting people to accept the Messiah as their personal Saviour only because of how He loves us. It’s all about me, me, me and how much I need to be loved and forgiven for who I am and what I do. Me…me…me!

I think this is wrong because it doesn’t allow people desperately looking for someone to love them to realize what their commitment really means. It all sounds so nice, especially to people who have a sense of loneliness and just want to feel loved. I know people who are loved but they are such a pain the the tuchas they reject the love people give them and ostracize themselves. Then they kvetch about how no one cares about them, but when we do call or show we care they only complain and carp about their lives. They are totally self-centered. These are the types that are ripe for the picking when it comes to telling them about how Jesus loves them and they can be saved and be in heaven, etc.

This is not what Yeshua said. In Matthew He says that anyone who wants to follow Him must reject parents and family, they won’t have a place to sleep or a home, and they must pick up their execution stake and follow HIm. He says he is a wedge between mother and daughter, father and son, and that the world will hate those who follow Him.

Doesn’t sound much like a good time, party-hearty atmosphere, does it?

I think of the parable of the sower of seed. Those people who are ministered to and proselytized on the basis that God loves them, no matter what, are the people who hear the Word and accept it but are shallow soil. Why? Because they are accepting salvation for selfish reasons. Their interest isn’t in doing what God wants because He is worthy of our worship and obedience, but only for what God can do for them.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. I am VERY grateful for God’s forgiveness, and it is a good feeling to know He loves me and that Yeshua did what He did for me. But I am saved because I want to have a relationship with God, I want to fill the emptiness I have felt my whole life not knowing who He is. It’s all about Him, and very little to do with me. That’s the kind of soil where roots grow deep because we are centered on what God is, what God deserves, and I worship Him because He is worthy of my worship.

I don’t want to sound holier than thou. I accepted Yeshua because, as Shaul says, I was jealous. I knew Christian’s who had a peace and joy that God gave them and I wanted in. I did want what salvation offered for selfish reasons, too. But that wasn’t all of it, and it shouldn’t be. As I have matured, spiritually (anyone who knows me can vouch that the only maturity I have is spiritual) I have come to realize that we need to be different, that although God loves us He wants us to be better. And salvation depends not just on asking, but on our doing, too. That’s right- it’s a free gift but it’s like having muscles: if you don’t use them,they atrophy and die. Our salvation is meant to be used to bring others into the Kingdom, to be fishers of men, to be a lamp, a light and to spread the Word by showing people how much God has changed us.

When we read of Yeshua’s ministry, how many times did He preach “God loves you?” It certainly was evident in the way He talked, but didn’t He really preach repent? Didn’t He make it difficult? Didn’t He warn us (by means of how He warned His Talmudim) about how difficult it was going to be  following Him? I don’t recall from the Gospels Yeshua droning on and on about God’s love and forgiveness and how happy you will be and how wonderful that you will get to be in heaven. Yeah, He made mention of it, sure. But it wasn’t what He really stressed, was it?

I want people to know the peace and joy that comes from His indwelling Spirit, the Ruach HaKodesh, the Holy Spirit of God. It has calmed me and helped me through rough times. I know God loves me and wants me to be saved; He says it over and over throughout the Bible. I would rather be with God than anywhere else,especially throughout Eternity. And because this is so important, I want everyone to know how difficult it is to be godly in a cursed world. I don’t want to “sucker them in” with promises of a rose garden for them to find out it’s really more like a brier patch. It’s tough being holy, it goes against our nature. And if all someone is told about is how wonderful they are, how God loves them, and only how about good they can feel knowing that the Almighty, the Creator of the Universe, the Lord, God, the Big Guy Himself, is only interested in making them feel loved, well…they will fall. They are accepting salvation on a premise that God is here for them, and the truth is we are here for God. If you really mean it when you say it is all about God, then you understand why I am so concerned about not pushing just love, love, love but making sure I tell people that it is tough, tough,tough out there when you accept salvation because you have to be different, you have to change. God loves you but He wants you to be different than you are now.

God is our Father in heaven, He is also our Judge, Jury and Executioner; He is Love, and He is justice and vengeance. When people accept His gift of Grace, it shouldn’t be only because of what God is doing for them. That won’t cut it when the going gets tough. Yeshua told the truth. He didn’t preach how wonderful it would be for everyone, He preached how everyone should be so it can be wonderful. We need to follow Yeshua’s example and preach the truth, both the wonderful and the not-so-wonderful aspects of salvation. We need to be tough and make sure people know what they are in for.

General “Chesty” Puller, a Commandant of the Marine Corps, and 5-time Medal of Honor winner, used to say that the more we sweat in peace, the less we bleed in war. This is war we are in, spiritual war, yes, but war all the same. We need to make soldiers for God and we can’t do that with people who are in it just to be “Hollywood Marines” (that’s a name we gave people who joined the Marine Corps just to look cool in the uniform.) We need to tell about more than just how God loves us because people who are “saved” so that they can feel loved are not going to last, and if we do that to them, if we tell them only the good and don’t prepare them for the worst, we are doing them an injustice and trampling the blood of Messiah into the dust.

I love the Lord because He is deserving of it. Not just for what He has done for me, but because He is deserving of it! If He never gave me a blessing, never did a single nice thing for me, He is still worthy and deserving of my love and obedience because of who He is.

And because of who He is, He does do nice things for me. He showers me with blessings I don’t deserve, and I am eternally grateful. Be grateful, be happy in the knowledge that you are loved, and that the Almighty wants you to be with Him. But don’t forget that we need to steel ourselves for battle, to put on the armor of God, and to focus on what we can do for His glory.

If it isn’t all about Him, it isn’t going to last.