Parashah Chayye Sarah (Life of Sarah) Genesis 23:1 – 25:18

In this parashah both Sarah and Abraham come to their deaths, and Isaac gets a wife. Abraham has told his servant to make sure that his son never goes back to the place where they came from, and this theme is repeated throughout the bible.
What’s so bad about going back to Egypt?

Parashah Vayera (And He Appeared) Genesis 18:1 – 22:24

Abraham is visited by God and the angels that save Lot when Sodom is destroyed. Sarah gives birth to Isaac, Hagar and Ishmael get the boot, and later Abraham takes Isaac to Mt. Moriah to sacrifice him

SPOILER ALERT– he doesn’t.

But what we are going to talk about are the angels of the Lord: are they just angels, or does God show up in the middle of the message they bring?

 

 

Special Reading for Sukkot- Chol Hamoed (Weekday of the Festival) Exodus 33:12 – 34:26

This reading is from the parashah Ki Thissa, and recounts Moses asking God to stay with the Israelites as they travel through the desert. Moses also asks God to show His Glory, which God agrees to do but Moses can only see His back as He passes by. God tells him He will put him in a cleft of a rock and cover Moses’ face as He passes because no one can see God’s face. As God passes He declares (what in Judaism is called) the “13 Attributes of God’s Nature” to Moses, and (consequently) to us. The reading ends with God reiterating commandments regarding idolatry, ransom of the first-born, not allowing intermixing with other cultures, the Shabbat, the festivals of Shavuot, Bikkurim (First Fruits) and Sukkot and certain Kashrut (Kosher) laws.

The way Moses prayed when he asked God to forgive the sins of the people is one of the most identifying aspects of Jewish prayer: we pray communally, not individually. Moses certainly was not one of the sinful, rebellious types that were rampant within the million or so Israelites he was leading, but yet when he asked God to forgive the sins that they (not him, but they) committed, he included himself with them. Jewish prayer is communal, we know that in God’s eyes we are one entity, one nation, one people, and when one of us sins we are all covered with that sin. It is one of the things that is really unique about the Jewish relationship with God. This is not meant as an attack or accusation, but most every Christian prayer I have ever heard is on an individual relationship with God; it is a one-to-one, personal relationship that doesn’t include anyone else, take responsibility for anyone else, or even acknowledge anyone else as part of that relationship. When a Christian prays for forgiveness it is only for themself.

In Judaism we pray differently. Yes, we ask God for forgiveness of our own sins, but we also always take responsibility for the sins of the nation. On Yom Kippur we recite the Ashamnu prayer which translates as “We are guilty”; the prayer “Act for the Sake of” ends with asking God to act for His sake if not “our” sake; the Al Het (All Sins) prayer is a recitation of every sin you could ever think of, and we ask for forgiveness of each one, but (as I said) it is not “For the sin I committed in Your sight”, but it is “For the sin WE committed in Your sight”, and what is repeated throughout this prayer is:

ועל כלמ, אלוה סליחות, סלח לנו, מחל לנו, כפר-לנן  (Forgive us all sins, O God of forgiveness, and cleanse us.)

Jewish prayer and relationship with God goes way beyond just “You-and-me.” And even though we pray as a nation, we still have a personal relationship with God: being one people doesn’t mean we aren’t each uniquely loved and known by God.

After Moses has interceded for the people and gained God’s forgiveness, God hides Moses in the rock cleft and passes by announcing His 13 attributes (these definitions are from my Chumash):

1. and 2.- The Lord, the Lord. The Rabbis interpret this as meaning God is the same before we sin, and the same after we sin, indicating that change must be from the sinner’s heart because God is the same all the time;

3. God– the allmighty Lord of the Universe;

4. Merciful– full of affectionate sympathy for the sufferings and miseries of human frailty;

5. Gracious– assisting, helping, consoling the afflicted and raising up the oppressed. In Man these attributes are temporary but with God they are inherently eternal.

6. Long-suffering– slow to anger and not rushing to punish the sinner but affording opportunities for the sinner to retrace his evil courses;

7. Abundant in goodness– plentiful in mercy and blessing beyond what Man deserves;

8. Truth– eternally true to himself pursuing His plans for the salvation of mankind and rewarding those who are obedient to His will;

We need to take note that the Hebrew used here is “v’rav chesed v’emet“: loving-kindness (rav chesed) comes before truth (emet), indicating that we are always to tell the truth, but to tell it in love.  We see this message often in Yeshua’s teachings and the Epistles of the New Covenant…Gee, I wonder where they got it from?

9. Keeping mercy unto the thousandth generation– remembering the good deeds of our ancestors and reserving reward to their descendants;

10. Forgiving iniquity– bearing with indulgence the failings of Man;

11. (forgiving) Transgression– deeds that spring from malice and rebellion against God;

12. (forgiving) Sin– the shortcomings of Man due to heedlessness and error; and

13. Will by no means clear the guilty– no matter how willing or how strongly God desires to forgive us our sins, He is also holy and will not allow the impenitent to go unpunished.

 

So nu…  there you have it! You want to know God? Here He is. This is what God wants us to know about Him, and for me that is all I need to know about Him. I think the most important attributes we human beings (and especially worshipers of God) need to remember above all are long suffering and willingness to forgive. The old saying, “To err is human; to forgive, Divine.” is absolutely in line with Torah.

We are to imitate God, but (of course) we can’t imitate God- He is eternal, spirit, holy and ineffable. But we can imitate some of His attributes, such as His forgiveness, His charity, His love for others, His desire to help the needy and to prosecute the guilty. Love of righteousness and hatred of evil: these things we can imitate, and I believe God wants us to do exactly that- imitate those of His attributes which we can imitate!

God gave us this “To Do” list, so let’s get to work on it.

 

The Day of Jubilee is on Yom Kippur for a Good Reason

This Shabbat (29 September, 2017) is also Kol Nidre, the first evening of Yom Kippur. As such, the traditional Torah reading is Leviticus 16:1-34 which are the rulings regarding this day.

However, I am going to talk about Leviticus 25: 8-10, which goes as follows:

You shall count seven weeks of years, seven times seven years, so that the time of the seven weeks of years shall give you forty-nine years.  Then you shall sound the loud trumpet on the tenth day of the seventh month. On the Day of Atonement you shall sound the trumpet throughout all your land.  And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you, when each of you shall return to his property and each of you shall return to his clan.

The Jubilee Year is designed to allow every Israelite to return to take possession of his ancestral land, and to be freed of any and all debts that he has incurred. It allows him  and his family to restart their life in their own home and without any debt. The economy of this action is remarkable: it prevents land grabbing, it maintains a working class, it establishes a moral economy, and it prevents people from being sold into slavery forever. It maintains a family standard of wealth, in that their property will always revert to them, at some point in the future, if they should ever fall on bad times.

It is not unlike the biblical prophecies regarding the Children of Israel that state no matter how many times they are conquered, or how far from home they are dispersed, their homeland and their own, personal property will always be there and one day God will bring them back to it.

Yom Kippur also allows us to restart our life debt free; not free from owing money to someone, but free from the debt we owe to God for our sins.

When we sin we owe God restitution- whether it be blood of the innocent, grain, 1/5th additional to what we took, or any combination of those things. What we owe Him is more, though, than just things- we owe Him our life. When we sin we separate ourselves from God, and our eternal life is then forfeit. The only way we can be reunited and gain back our eternity is to pay the debt. Yom Kippur provides us a single point in time where we can know that our debt will be paid off and we will start anew.

The Jubilee Year and Yom Kippur have this in common- both free us from debt; the former from worldly debt, and the latter from spiritual debt. The year when Yom Kippur and Jubilee fall together is certainly a joyous occasion, even though Yom Kippur is a solemn event.

In case you were not aware, 2017 is a Jubilee Year, and starting on Saturday evening, 9/30/2017 all Jews are to receive back their ancestral lands. I live in Florida, in the United States, and don’t even know what tribe I belong to, but I do know this: I will be forgiven of my sins and somewhere in Israel is a plot of land that belongs to me.

As a Messianic Jew who has accepted Yeshua ha Maschiach (Jesus Christ) as my Savior, you may ask why I need to fast or worship on Yom Kippur. After all, didn’t Yeshua die for our sins? Yes, He did, but He didn’t change the commandments. Yom Kippur, including the fast, is still a commandment of God and all who worship God should obey it. Not because I believe, as my fellow  “mainstream” Jews do, it is the only means of forgiveness, but simply because it is commanded. I think we should also fast and worship as a sign of solidarity with the Jewish people, most of whom have not accepted Yeshua, to show them that believing in Yeshua doesn’t mean one is no longer an observant Jew. Most any Jew will tell you, if you are Jewish and believe in Yeshua as your Messiah, you aren’t a Jew anymore because you have to be a Christian if you believe in Jesus. It’s really sad- they don’t even know what the term “believe in Jesus” means!

Today is a very, very special day- the Yom Kippur of Jubilee Year! We are freed from debt to Man and to sin, and we can start our lives afresh, clean and unencumbered.

Of course, this is a spiritual statement; I don’t suggest going to the local bank branch and insisting that because this is the Yom Kippur Jubilee Year you would like the deed to your house. I think you will find yourself on the sidewalk.

One last note: since Yom Kippur is all about forgiveness, I also suggest there be one other type of debt you relieve yourself of. That is the onerous debt of unforgiveness for others. Starting at sundown tonight we will be praying and fasting, asking God to move from the Throne of Judgement to the Throne of Mercy and to forgive us the debt of our sins, which we owe Him. We must, therefore, also forgive those that owe us a debt of sin, whether they ask for it or not.

Remember Matthew 6:14-15:

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Remember also the parable in Matthew 18:23-35 about the man that was forgiven a large debt and refused to forgive one who owed him only a little. It didn’t go well for the one who refused to forgive. It will be the same for you and me if we refuse to forgive, so on this day, more than on any other day, as you pray to God for forgiveness, think also of those that have sinned against you, and forgive them!

Believe me, please, when I say that the heaviness of spirit we feel when we have monetary debts is nothing compared to the emotional emptiness you feel when you are unforgiving.  Debts can be paid, after which they are just a memory, but unforgiveness is a poison that eats away your heart, little by little, until you can’t even love anymore.  It destroys all your relationships, and it hurts everyone you care about and who cares about you.

So celebrate the forgiveness you receive from God by forgiving others, especially those you have refused to forgive because they “don’t deserve it.” It doesn’t matter what they deserve because your unforgiveness separates you from God, and when you forgive them you will be reunited with the Lord in joy, the pain of being hurt will be gone, and a great weight will be lifted.

Forgiveness brings us closer to God, both when He forgives us and when we forgive others.

Parashah Shoftim (Judges) Deuteronomy 16:18 – 21:9

There are some very important practices outlined in this parashah.

First off, judges must not allow a person’s social status to influence their decision. Any crime deserving of capital punishment must be substantiated by no less than 2 or 3 witnesses, and to ensure those witnesses realize the seriousness of their accusations, they are to be the first ones to lay hands on and stone the guilty.  For criminal cases that are too hard for the local judge to adjudicate, those cases are to be brought to the Levites in the location where where God places His name; God just created the first Supreme Court.

It talks about when the people want a king that the king must read and obey the Torah daily, and that he must not bring the people out of the land or have too many horses or wives; too many horses represents faithlessness in God as their protector, and too many wives will be a lure to idolatry (as Solomon proved true.)

What is interesting is that after establishing the rules for having a king, Moses tells the people that God will send a prophet to let them know what He wants of them. The reason I find this interesting is that the prophet was supposed to be in place of the king, yet the rulings for how the king is to act came before Moses talked about the prophet.  Perhaps this is to emphasize that the king is also required to listen to the prophet God sends, which (for the good kings) did happen. As for the bad kings who rejected the prophets warnings, well… we know where they ended up.

The other regulations in this parashah deal with which men shall be free of military obligation, establishing cities of refuge and what I want to talk about today- offering peace with slavery or total destruction to the cities the people would encounter when conquering the land.

Deuteronomy 20: 10-18 states that when coming to a city which is not one within the land that God is giving as an inheritance, they are to approach it and offer a peaceful takeover. The city that accepts will be required to pay tribute but will remain unmolested. If the city refuses, then all the men are to be killed and the woman, children and possessions are to be taken. However, for those people living in the land that God is giving as the inheritance (the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites), the people, all the animals and their possessions are to be completely destroyed. Nothing is to be kept by the Israelites.

Wow! Our loving, compassionate and merciful God wants total annihilation of people- men, women and children, as well as the animals!  Is this the same God who chided Jonah for wanting Nineveh destroyed? Is this the same God who gave us commandments regarding proper treatment of all people and animals? Is this the same God who gave us Messiah so that we can have eternal life? Is this the same God who has Ezekiel tell us (Chapter 18) that He doesn’t like to see anyone die, but would rather that the sinner turn from his sin, and live?

If God is willing to let the other pagan peoples remain alive as slaves, why not these that live in the land already?

The answer is simple, yet hard for humans to accept- the people living in the land that God is giving to the Israelites have sinned so terribly that their time for forgiveness has passed and the time for judgment has come. Remember how Moses told the people that they are not being given the land because they deserve it, but because of the promise God made to their fathers (Deuteronomy 9:5)?  Moses also told the people the reason the existing peoples are being ejected from the land is because they have so polluted it that the land, itself, is vomiting them out of it (Leviticus 18:28), and if the Israelites do not destroy them completely then they will become a snare for them and cause them to fall into the same sin, resulting in Israel being vomited out of the land, as well. Which, of course, eventually happened just as Moses warned them it would happen.

God is loving and compassionate and caring, but he is also God, which means that He judges fairly. He sets the rules, and He holds Himself accountable to them. I think this is why people can’t figure God out- it’s because we are weak and easily influenced by our emotions, and God isn’t. We have rules and regulations but we do not always hold ourselves up to our own standards.

God is not like that- God makes the rules for us, but He also follows those rules Himself. One of the reasons God is able to judge fairly is because He not only can see the heart, but because He will not allow Himself to break His own rules. Since He is God, if He wanted to break His own rules, who could stop Him? Who can hold God accountable? No one, of course, except God, and He does exactly that- God holds Himself accountable to follow His own rules.

We do not know if God sent prophets to these people, or if He made Himself known to them as He did to the Israelites, but we do know that the people in the land were aware of who God was. The story of what God did to Egypt was known throughout that area. God also said He would put the fear of the Israelites into the peoples, which was evident. Once Joshua was in the land, Rahab (Joshua 2) knew about them, and there is the story of the city of Gibeon (Joshua 9) that fooled Joshua by sending envoys pretending they came from a far distance in order to make peace with him. So there was no excuse for these people to have not done T’shuvah and save themselves.

Purging of sin and sinful people from the world is a cruel thing, because sin is a cruel thing. You cannot put out a fire with gasoline or by throwing wood on it- you have to kill the fire by taking it’s life. You do that by suffocating it with water or chemicals. Sin is like fire- it destroys anything and everything in it’s path, and someone who has come into close contact with it will wear the scars of that experience forever. Through Messiah we are saved from the fire, and when we receive our resurrected bodies the scars of that fire will be gone. In the meantime, we go on and let those scars remind us of how terrible sin is. Yeshua is the balm, the covering and the relief from the sin we have scarred ourselves with by playing with fire.

What we learn from this parashah is that God is fair, just and will hold Himself accountable to His own commandments and regulations. He wants everyone to live, but when people reject Him (and He gives them plenty of chances to change their mind) eventually the deadline for T’shuvah (repentance) runs out, and the judgment follows. America is coming into judgment, as is the rest of the world. In fact, we can see it has already started. Terrorism is a cruel, heartless and destructive thing that cares not for men,women, children ,animals, or possessions; I believe it is the sword of Adonai. God used His people, Israel, to mete out His righteous judgment against the Canaanites and other peoples that had polluted the land God allowed them to live in, and today judgment is coming on the nations just as it did then. God is using terrorism as His sword of justice. Why do I say this? Because what the terrorists are doing is no similar to what the Israelites did- destruction of the social, financial and political systems of the people they were sent to destroy.  The only difference is in the procedure: in Joshua’s day the destruction was through direct warfare, whereas today it is through terrorism; terrorism is slower and less direct, but it is just as destructive and cruel, with the same final results. The people are destroyed without pity, without recourse and without warning. Just look at how terrorism is spreading throughout Europe and America. Even those Arab countries that are attacking Israel to this day are tearing themselves apart, internally.

Judgement is here, God is working His will throughout the world, and it will only get worse. We need to steel ourselves against turning from the faith in order to avoid the terror- it won’t work, anyway, The terror is coming, and no one can do anything about it. We just need to make sure we are on the wining side.

 

Parashah Re’eh (See) Deuteronomy 11:26 – 16:17

Moses continues to review all the commandments that God has given to the Israelites over the past 40 years. He tells them that as soon as they cross over the Jordan and enter the land He has given to them they are to place the blessing for obedience on Mt. Gerezim, and the curse for disobedience on Mt. Ebal.

Interesting note: these are called the “Shoulder Mountains” because they are across from each other, like a pair of shoulders, and below them is the Valley of Shechem. When all the people, split between the two mountainsides, repeat the blessings and curses aloud, all the inhabitants of the valley below them will hear it.

Moses orders that all pagan memorials and standing stones, idols, etc. be completely destroyed and that Israel is never to do any of the things these pagans did. The people are also told that God will choose a place for His name, meaning a single location where sacrifices to Him will be performed. He orders that no one is to sacrifice just anywhere, but only where God tells them they can. If the tithe to be brought is too much to carry to where the Temple is, it can be converted to money, then when the person gets to the location he can buy the items from someone else.

Another interesting note: One of the reasons Yeshua (Jesus) turned over the money changing tables and threw the merchants out of the Temple courts when He came into Jerusalem (John 2:15) was because the animals they sold to the people for sacrifice were way overpriced, and many were not fit to be a sacrifice.

Moses reviews the laws of Kashrut (Kosher) and the regulations regarding the Festivals of the Lord. He gives the regulations regarding the Shemittah, which is the release of debt every 7 years, and warns against any one who is trying to seduce people to worship other gods, whether a prophet or a family member, decreeing they should be put to death.

Throughout this book Moses keeps telling the people that they are to choose which way they will live: in accordance with God’s laws or in accordance with the pagan practices of the people surrounding them. Even though God ordered every vestige of the pagan practices and people to be be utterly destroyed, He knew that there would always be a remnant of evil left behind.

Seems whether of good or evil, there is always a remnant, somewhere.

The bible verifies God gave us Free Will to choose our path. Too often I hear people make excuses for their actions, blaming the enemy or someone else, or just saying that “God is forgiving so I’ll be OK”, as if God will automatically forgive us for sinning against Him even if we don’t really repent of it. This is one of the wrong teachings of Christianity over the centuries, i.e. that because Yeshua died for our sins we are automatically forgiven.

We are NOT automatically forgiven! Everything in the bible tells us that, and although we do have forgiveness through Yeshua’s sacrifice, it is not automatic. Think about it: if we were automatically forgiven, then what is the use of Free Will? If we are automatically forgiven, then the need to choose right over wrong becomes unnecessary, because no matter what we do we will be forgiven. Automatic forgiveness is, effectively, saying that we don’t even have to do T’shuvah (repent) from our sin.

How many of you out there really think that God will forgive an unrepentant sinner? If you raised your hand, you are way off base and will be very, VERY disappointed at Judgement Day.

God holds us responsible for everything we do and say. Us, me, you- the excuse “But that’s what they told me” is not acceptable at God’s Throne of Judgement. Moses repeats the commandments from God to the people many times so that it will, hopefully, sink in! I think Moses knows what is going to happen; I believe that when God showed Moses the Promised Land He also showed Moses the future. When we read the passionate plea of Moses as he reviews the laws and warns the people against rejecting their God for the gods of the Canaanites, you can hear his heart breaking as he tells them what will happen when (he doesn’t always use the word “if”, and often uses the word “when”) they reject God by rejecting His commandments.

The Torah is not just for Jews and the Blood of Christ is not just for Gentiles; there is not one bible for Jews and one bible for Gentiles. The Torah is for everyone, and the bible is one book- the first part (Tanakh) telling us how we got here and that a Messiah will come, and the second part telling us about that Messiah and letting us know what will happen in the end. One God for everyone, one Messiah for everyone, one set of rules for everyone, and one choice for everyone: joyful life eternal or eternal suffering.

It’s your choice- no one can make it for you and God will not allow you to let someone else take the blame for what you end up doing. No matter what you are told by humans, God says that He, Himself, is going to hold you individually and completely responsible for what you do during your lifetime on earth.

You may be thinking you can change later, or will think about it at some other time, but here’s the problem with that: you will never know when you’re out of time!

Parashah Ekev (It Shall Come to Pass) Deuteronomy 7:12 – 11:25

Throughout this book, the last book of the Torah, we hear Moshe (Moses) constantly remind the people about all the good that God has done for them, and constantly warn them against turning away from God. Over and over he reminds them of the mighty acts performed by God, of how God has gone before them in battle and he reinforces the fact that God will continue to go before them, as long as they keep their side of the covenant.

He also chastises them regarding how rebellious they have been; he reminds them of all the places where they rebelled, and how God punished them as a result of their stiff-necked, rebellious attitudes. And Moses doesn’t fail to lay a guilt trip on them, either, retelling how he suffered on account of them, fasted for 40 days (twice!) so that God would not destroy them, and so forth.

We find also the foundation for many of the messages that the Prophets gave and of what Yeshua taught. For instance, in the last parashah we were given the 10 Commandments, the V’Ahavtah, and the Shema. In this parashah, Deuteronomy 10:12-13 must be the basis for Micah 6:8-9:

And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all His ways, and to love Him, and to to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul; to keep for thy good the commandments of the Lord, and His statues, which I command thee this day? 

Micah 6:8-9He 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?

Over and over, again and again, Moses tells the people not to fear or look to their own strength for success. They are not to forget, when they are relaxed, happy and blessed, that it is because God provided all this for them that they are so well off. Moses also tells them, in no uncertain way, the reason that God is going ahead of Israel and destroying the nations currently living in the land is because those people have polluted the land with their sinfulness. Israel is not being given the land because they deserve it- they are being used to rid the land of the pestilence that is in it. And, after having done so, Moses tells them that if they fall into the same pattern of sinfulness and pollute the land, that they, also, will be thrown out of it.

How often do we, today, forget to credit God as the provider of our goodness? I hear people more than willing to blame God for their problems, for illness and financial ruin: “Why me, God? What have I done?” People are fast to blame the Lord for their problems, and very, VERY slow to accept their responsibility for what they are going through. Yet, when things are going well and they have more than they need, do they praise God? Do they thank the Lord for His provision? Do they remember what it was like and appreciate all that God has done to bring them to where they are now?

I am afraid that it doesn’t always seem that way. We are fast to accept responsibility for our success, and fast to blame God for our failures. The fact is, it is almost always the other way around: we are the reason for our failures and God is the cause of our success.

I am often blessed to teach on Shabbat, and when I get compliments from people I am quick (and this is NOT false modesty) to say if it was that good, then it wasn’t from me. When I do something really well, I give the credit to God for the leading of His Ruach (Spirit) and the gifts He gave me; when I totally screw something up, that’s when I can take full credit.

We need to apply every single warning that Moses gave to the Israelites to our own lives. We need to be careful not to pollute what God has given us by our sins, and not to allow things in our life to separate us from God . What would those things be? They could be sports, money, Face Book, Porn, video games…anything that brings you to a place where you are focused on yourself and not on God. Now, don’t get me wrong- I am not saying that being a baseball fan or managing your finances is sinful, but when it becomes a wedge between you and your worship, then you have a problem. As an example, watching baseball is not a problem, but watching it at the expense of being a husband and father, well, that is not right. If you begin to idolize the baseball players and begin gambling, then you have a problem. If you are so busy trying to attain wealth by working yourself to a frazzle, ignoring family and friends, then you have a problem. If you are spending half your life on Face Book or Twitter, you need to shut the computer off and talk to someone face-to-face.

Do you see my point? We should not be so intent and focused on something that it becomes a barrier to our relationships with God, family and friends. Brothers and Sisters, please believe me when I say that IM’ing people on Face Book or sending emails is not really how we should communicate.

And we should not ever think that the success we have in life is due to our own power. I have a gift for teaching, which has been confirmed by others: and it is not something I gave myself, it is from God. When I use it to glorify and honor Him, I am using it correctly. When I use it for my own purposes, to glorify myself, I am misusing it and that will result in failure.

If you ever find yourself wondering why something you do well is not working, try to remember the last time you thanked God for His provision and gifts, and ask yourself if you have been using your talents to glorify God. I am willing to bet you will then find the answer to why things aren’t working.