Can Sinners go to Heaven?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Salvation: Ours to Keep or Ours to Lose

There is a saying that has led many to think they are saved when they may be sabotaging themselves.

That saying is: “Once saved; Always saved.”

It is a lie from the pit of Sheol, which has separated many from the truth of the Gospels and made impossible the proper worship of Adonai.

Repentance Without Change is Nothing

How often do we hear preachers tell us that all who call on the name of the Lord will be saved? How many times have you heard missionaries tell you that Jesus died for your sins and once you accept Him, your sins are forever forgiven? How many people believe that by asking for forgiveness they are now set to go to heaven?

How many of you out there believe that anything I said above is true? If you do, please sit back, open your heart to the Holy Spirit and read on….WARNING: your comfort zone is about to be attacked.

Calling on the name of the Lord, accepting Yeshua (Jesus) and asking forgiveness from your sins in His name, repenting of sin (which is what this is all based on) is totally useless if you, yourself, do not change how you act from that moment onwards. You cannot be forgiven for sinning if you do not repent of sinning, and repentance means that you stop doing what you have been doing. That means changing how you act, changing what you think, and changing how you live your life.

Think about it: What if I stole from you, and then said I was sorry and won’t do it again? Later, I steal from you. Do you think that I really meant what I said when I promised not to steal anymore? If I continue to steal from you, then what you finally realize is that I am NOT repentant, that I am NOT sorry I stole, and that I am playing you for a sap.

God is not a sap. God is forgiving and compassionate and patient, but He is not stupid or easily (actually, I should say ever) fooled. He knows our heart, He knows out very essence, and when we ask for forgiveness, if we really don’t mean it, if we are just trying to get away with something, then He will know and He will not forgive.

Read the writings of the Prophets and see how God continually challenged the Children of Israel, in both the Northern and Southern Kingdoms, to truly repent, to change their ways. Read the book of Jonah- Nineveh did a real T’shuvah (turning from sin) and God recognized that, so they were not destroyed. Later, they went back to their sinful ways and eventually were used by God to punish the Northern Kingdom (who never even tried to repent), then they were also destroyed.

The way many missionaries and preachers gain congregants, and how they keep them, is to tell them what sounds good: “God will forgive you and God loves you just as you are.” Although these statements are true, they aren’t complete.

God does love you just as you are, but that doesn’t mean that He wants you to stay that way.

James tells us faith without works is dead, and that goes hand-in-hand with what I learned when I was a salesman, which is: people don’t mean what they say; they mean what they do. When we ask God to forgive us our sins, He is willing and desiring to do so, but He requires T’shuvah, which is demonstrated only through a change in our actions. Yes, God can see our heart, but that isn’t enough.

Forgiveness of sin is something that says more about God than it does about us, namely that He is wonderful, compassionate and forgiving, and when we talk about how Yeshua died so we can have a chance to live eternally in God’s presence, we are glorifying both Yeshua and God. And that is why we need to change what we do- repentance of our sins has to be shown by a change in our actions which glorifies the Lord.

We naturally will do and act the way we want to, so to change how we act we need to change who we are. People can’t do that, which is why we need the Holy Spirit, the Ruach HaKodesh, to indwell in us. Through the leading of the Holy Spirit we can change our words, thoughts and actions. That is what we mean when we say “die to self.”

I once read a self-help book that made a lot of sense to me: the basic premise is that we cannot change how we react to things, but we can change how we act. I was not a Believer then and was thinking simply in humanistic ways, but now that I understand better I see that this is how the Ruach can help. I am sinful from birth, and iniquity (tendency to sin) is something that is part of me- I cannot just make it go away. BUT- I can control it, and I can act in a way that will allow me to overrule my desire to sin. The Ruach is how I do that, and that is what you need to do, as well.

What I mean is this: I can never be sinless, but I can always sin less. I can sin less tomorrow than I did today, and I can do that through repentance (true repentance) by asking the Ruach to help me. And by surrendering to it. When I put my pride and stubborn heart in subjection to the Holy Spirit, then I will have a change of heart, and I will act differently. And my change will demonstrate not to God, but to the world, the truth of my repentance. Our repentance must be obvious to the world in order to glorify the Lord.

That is the essence of today’s message. When we repent and mean it, we will have to change how we act and what we say because the repentance must be obvious to the world- what we do and say as Believers is not to reflect on us, it is to reflect on God and glorify Him.

When we change our words and thoughts, we show the world that our repentance is genuine and that glorifies God. If we tell people we are saved but they see us acting the same way we always have, what are they going to think? I’ll tell what they are going to think- they are going to think that whole “God thing” is a bunch of hooey! We will not only have lied to God but will have defamed Him, trampled the blood of Messiah into the dirt, and possibly prevented someone from being saved from their sin.

That is not a good thing to do.

So, remember what David said in Psalm 51: “Create in me a clean heart, and renew a right spirit in me.

And while we’re at it, my personal prayer is from Psalm 19: “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.”

Repentance must be real, it must be demonstrated through a change in your words and your actions.

Repentance that doesn’t change you is not repentance, and without repentance of sin there will not be forgiveness of sin.

“Once Saved, Always Saved” is a One-Way Ticket to Sheol

One of the many wrongful teachings that Christianity has proliferated over the millennia is that we are saved because Jesus (Yeshua is His real name) died for our sins, and when we call on His name for forgiveness we are no longer under the law but under Grace and all our sins are automatically forgiven, now and forever; in other words, Once Saved, Always Saved.

Let’s think about that for a moment…….hmmmmm….so, Jesus died so my sins can be forgiven, therefore I no longer have to worry about sinning because He paid the price of my sins. I am free, I am no longer under the Law (meaning the Torah; you know, that “Jewish stuff”) and now I am guaranteed that I will go to heaven.

In other words, I’m covered. The “J-Man” has my back!

But that is not true. The “Once Saved, Always Saved” lesson actually teaches that we don’t have to try to stop sinning, and we don’t even have to be repentant. In other words, it tells people they are OK no matter what they do because forgiveness is automatic, therefore they don’t have to change.

From this point I could find many, MANY passages in the bible that confirm this to be an absolute lie from the very pit of Sheol (that’s what we Jews call “Hell”), but I won’t. Why? Because I am going to ask us all to just think it through.

CAVEAT: Just because something makes sense to a human doesn’t mean it is right with God. His understanding and knowledge is so far above ours that what we think is sensible He knows to be nonsense, and vice versa, but there are some things that make sense to us that are sensible to God, and can be confirmed in the bible. What we are about to discuss is one of those things.

Let’s start with the fact that sin is bad and we aren’t supposed to sin. No one should disagree with that. Next, we need to agree that we do sin, and that we are incapable of not sinning (if anyone disagrees with that, we have a real problem.) So, where are we? Oh, yeah- sin is bad, we aren’t supposed to sin, but we will, so what do we do when we sin? We atone, and the first step in atonement is to ask forgiveness. Without forgiveness we are stained and thereby unable to come into God’s presence, meaning we got to Hell.

Let’s take a step back for a moment….it is important to note that we have to want to atone, don’t we? That’s called repentance. When we are repentant, we are sorry for the sin we committed. Every sin is a sin against God; we may do something nasty to another person, but that sin is also a sin against God because He told us not to be nasty to each other. King David knew this (Psalm 51): when we do something God said not to so, it is a sin against God.

Next step after repentance and asking forgiveness is to sacrifice, according to the rules and commandments God gave us. Uh oh!- we hit a hurdle with this one; God commanded all sacrifices be made at the temple in Jerusalem, and that place doesn’t exist anymore. So what do we do?

We can’t do anything, but God did do something for us- He sent Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) to be a substitution for the sacrifice at the temple. All the other steps in forgiveness, i.e. being repentant, asking forgiveness (for each sin) and doing T’shuvah (turning from sin) in our hearts, are all still part of the sacrificial system process. The only change is that instead of bringing a sacrifice to the temple (again, for each and every time we sin) we have Yeshua’s sacrifice as a substitution.

When we put it all together, we get this:

  1. We sin
  2. We’ are repentant
  3. We bring our sacrifice to the temple and by the means of it’s innocent blood that is shed we ask for cleansing of our sin
  4. If the sacrifice is accepted God will forgive our sin
  5. We go away cleansed of that sin at that time, and if and when we sin again, we go through the process once more

Yeshua ‘s sacrifice is a once-and-for-all sacrifice, but teaching that it automatically saves us from all our sins (those we have committed and those we have yet to commit), is against the process God outlined. Teaching that asking one time for forgiveness (through Yeshua’s sacrifice) means our sins are forgiven forever negates repentance.

Do you really think that God will forgive someone who isn’t repentant? Do you really think that we can automatically be forgiven of any sin without ever asking to be forgiven? If we are, then why did God say we had to sacrifice at all? Oh, wait- you’re saying that the animal sacrifices were only good for that one time, but because Yeshua is the Messiah His one time sacrifice is good forever? You’re right- His one time sacrifice IS good forever, but it is useless to you if you are not repentant, and when you are repentant you do what?

You ask for forgiveness, over and over and over, every single time you sin. Not every other sin, not only when you remember to ask, but for every, single sin you commit, large or small you must ask forgiveness in Yeshua’s name.

BTW..as far as God is concerned, there are no small or large sins, there is only sin.

When we don’t ask for forgiveness, we demonstrate we don’t really care that we sinned. It’s that simple.

Do you see the logic and sense of it all? To say we are forgiven automatically because Yeshua sacrificed Himself for us is to negate the need for repentance and to ignore God’s process of forgiveness. It is just plain wrong, from any and all angles, and totally against everything we read in the bible.

That is why this idea of “Once Saved, Always Saved” is a one-way ticket to Sheol: those who are unrepentant will not be forgiven. It won’t matter that at one time you called on the name of the Lord and asked forgiveness through Yeshua’s blood; each time you sin you have to ask forgiveness (and MEAN it!); each and every time.

There are warnings about people who apostatize in some of the letters from Shaul (Paul) and in Revelation we are told that most will turn from the faith. Have you ever thought that maybe one doesn’t need to renounce God to apostatize? Maybe all it takes is to ignore what God tells us, or simply do what we want to do, even if it goes against what God says?  Did you ever consider why Yeshua said that there would be some who call Him “Lord” but He tells them He never knew them (Matthew 7:21)?

I think those who believe the “Once Saved, Always Saved” ideology will find themselves in that group, the group of people who call Yeshua “Lord” but He doesn’t know them. The reason He doesn’t know them is because they aren’t repentant; yes, maybe they were at one time, when they first called on His name, but because they think they don’t have to, they haven’t called on Him since. One time doesn’t do it- you need to do it always. Shaul tells us to pray constantly, and that isn’t just for what we want but for forgiveness, too.

I suppose if anyone reading this doesn’t agree or get the point by now, they may never get it. I pray that someone who thinks “Once Saved, Always Saved” has had their eyes opened.

No one wants to be told, “I do not know you” when they see Yeshua in the Acharit HaYamim (End Days.)

does God ever change His mind?

Let’s start by remembering who it is I am going to talk about: it’s God. The one and only, the Lord of lords and King of kings, the Everlasting, the One who created everything and everyone. He never slumbers nor does He ever sleep, He remembers, He knows, He is always present and ever lasting. He is the Eternal One.

He is also the same today, yesterday and tomorrow and whatever He wants to do, He does. Whatever He wants done, gets done, and whatever He says is absolutely absolute.

Got it? So, nu? With all that going for Him, does He ever change His mind? Does He say He will do something then decide not to do it? Does He say a thing will happen, but then prevent it? I have often said that what God says will happen is so certain that it is already history. Yet….

He told the Hebrews coming out of Egypt that He would bring them into a land filled with milk and honey, the land He promised Abraham, but they never entered it.

He told Moses He would destroy the Israelites in the desert, yet He didn’t. More than once.

He had Jonah tell the Ninevites they would be destroyed in 40 days, but they weren’t.

He told King Hezekiah (2 Kings, 20) that he was going to die, but instead He added 15 years to his life.

In each of these cases God told someone that He was going to do something, and it didn’t happen. It really does look like God changed His mind.

But He didn’t- what happened was that the conditions upon which God made the decision changed.

The Hebrews coming out of Egypt were brought to the land God promised, but they refused to go in.

God said He would destroy the Israelites and make a nation out of Moses, but Moses refused that option. God was ready, but Moses didn’t want to do it, so the conditions changed.

Nineveh repented of their evil and asked for forgiveness- up to then, they were rebellious and didn’t fear the Lord. They changed the condition of their hearts when they did T’shuvah (repentance), thereby changing the conditions on which God decided their fate.

Hezekiah cried bitter tears and prayed to God to spare him. God didn’t have Isaiah tell the king that God was going to kill him, just that he was going to die. But when Hezekiah cried to the Lord and reminded God (not that God forgot) about all the good he had done, God granted the prayer of the king to live. The king’s prayer to be cured changed the conditions of the situation.

I am sure there are other examples of when something in the bible makes it look like God changed His mind. I submit that God can change His mind, if He wants to. He is, after all, God, and can do whatever the heck He wants to. However, we have to remember that the timeline we live in has no effect or bearing on God- He is above all the laws of physics that we understand. So when God says He will do something, if the conditions for that decision remain unchanged, that something will be done. It may not be done in a straight, chronological line, but it will be done.

The Israelites did come into the land God promised; Nineveh was destroyed for it’s evil; Hezekiah did (eventually) die; and the best part is still yet to come- God will gather all His people from the four corners of the Earth and settle them back in Israel. In fact, that is happening as we speak. Today we see the promise of God’s regathering His people and judging of the nations coming true before our eyes.

We also saw God’s promise to send a Messiah come true, some 2,000 years ago, and that promise is just as alive and active today as it was then. Yeshua (Jesus) is alive, He sits at the right hand of God, and all who accept Him as their Messiah and do T’shuvah will be saved.

Although it seems somewhat contradictory, God’s decisions are based on the conditions at the time He announces them to us, but those conditions can change, henceforth the events based on them change. God doesn’t change, His decisions don’t change, but the conditions can change, causing new decisions to be made.

That means you can be an unrepentant sinner today and are (thereby) condemned to death, but any time you change the conditions of your heart, you change the conditions of God’s decision.

Think about that- you have the potential to change God’s decision! What an awesome thought. All you need to do to change God’s decision is change your attitude, your actions, your heart. If you are evil you are condemned to death, yet if you turn from your evil ways you will be saved. If you are a God-fearing person who decides to apostatize and turn your back on the Lord to do evil, then whatever righteous deeds you had performed will be forgotten and you will die in your sin (Ezekiel 3:20.)

God’s promises are absolute; what God says will happen, will happen; what God wants to be, is. The only thing that changes is you, is me, is us. If we change, then the conditions upon which God has said something will happen will change, and God will make a new decision based on the new conditions.

God’s plan for salvation is like a willow tree in the breeze: it stands firm and will not be moved, but it is able to sway with the wind and bend as it needs to.

God’s plan of salvation is like a ship sailing from one port to another: the beginning and the end are set and unmovable, but the ship may stop at different ports, tack against the wind, or sail around an obstacle while on it’s journey. Those on the ship can stay on board or leave anytime they want to, and those on the land can come aboard any time they want to. The captain has set the destination, and even though the course may be here and there, the ship will arrive where it is going to when the captain wants to be there.

God does not really change His mind, but when the conditions of His decision change He will re-evaluate the situation and make a new decision based on the new condition. You are in total control of the conditions of your life, so make it easy for God to decide to do good for you.

Do sinners go to heaven?

Geeze, I hope so! Otherwise, I am in BIG trouble!!

Frankly, so are you.

Anyone, and everyone, is a sinner. Whether they commit murder, rob, lie, or just eat ham on Shabbat, they (and we) all are sinners. Adam sinned, Eve sinned, Cain sinned, Nimrod sinned, Enoch (well, maybe not Enoch), and just about everyone else down the line, sinned. Moses was a murderer, King David was more than just a murderer, he was an adulterer who committed murder to cover his crime, Solomon burned his own children to Molech; yet, I don’t think anyone doubts that Moses, King David or Solomon are in heaven.

Look, Yeshua came to earth to die for our sins because we are sinners. DUH! And no one can live a sinless life. As I have said, and will continue to say:

We can never be sinless, but we can always sin less.

So, if sinners can go to heaven why bother not sinning? Oy! Now I sound like Shaul (Paul) in his letters. The reason we try to stop sinning is to demonstrate the one thing that separates the sinners who live and the sinners who die- it’s called T’shuvah, which is the Hebrew word meaning “repentance.”

We have the propensity to sin in our DNA, we are born into it, and it is what (in Hebrew) we call the Yetzer Hara, the Evil Inclination. We also have the Yetzer Tov, the Good Inclination, but the Rabbi’s tell us that doesn’t develop until we are old enough to study Talmud and Torah (unfortunately, that is often the order the Orthodox take. I think it should be the other way around), so we all start out with sin in our hearts.  We are all sinners, who continue to sin.

Again, the difference is not who sins and who doesn’t, but who doesn’t want to anymore!  I have another saying you might have heard me repeat (often):

Before I was saved I was a sinner who rationalized my sins; now I am a sinner who regrets my sins.

Yeshua (Jesus) came to earth, stripped Himself of His divine nature and took on a mantle of flesh, specifically so that He could act as the substitute for us, to take on the penalty for sin that we deserve. He gave up eternal divinity so that we could have eternal life. But, if being sinless (as He was) is the condition for salvation, then it was all a waste because no one can be sinless. It would have been just plain stupid for Him to give up what He did if we have to be sinless to avail ourselves of His sacrifice.

Let me tell you something you probably already know: God and Yeshua?  they ain’t stupid!

The difference is simple- if you have truly accepted God’s grace through Yeshua, have accepted the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) and live every day in order to die to self, then you will have done T’shuvah, you will regret your sins, you will  live to sin less, and thereby you will be able to spend eternity in the presence of God. That is really what heaven is- eternally in God’s presence.

On the other hand, even if you call on the name of the Lord but do not change your attitude towards sin, if you say you’re a good person because you don’t kill and lie but you cheat on your taxes and fail to give to the poor or tithe, and if you constantly try to get away with explaining your sins as OK because Jesus died for you, then you are going to be very, VERY sadly disappointed when you come before the Throne of God (as we all will); because, when God starts to read off your sins and you turn to the right hand of God and scream,

Yo! J-man! How you be? Get me outta here, ‘K?”

I am afraid you will only hear Yeshua say, “Get thee away from me- I know you not.”

We all sin, and yes- sinners do get to go to heaven (we can discuss another time that we really don’t go to heaven- read Revelations) as long as they are repentant sinners who have fruits of righteousness they can present to the Lord. We are told never to come before the Lord empty handed, and at Judgement what we bring will not be the blood of goats or rams, but the fruits of the Spirit we have developed, the execution stakes we picked up when we decided to follow Yeshua, and the good works we did in spite of the iniquity within us.

Yes, Virginia- there is a heaven for sinners, but only those sinners who constantly sin less because they are faithfully obedient to God.

after the storm

I live in Brevard County, Florida, so Matthew came through with a vengeance. However, God was good and protected us and most of the neighbors. A lot of tree debris, my screened in porch suffered a large branch falling on it and bending one of the main supports (Hello? USAA?), but other than that we had no real problems.

I am sooooo sore from moving everything that was on top of the plywood window covers, taking them out, putting them up, moving everything back so I could put the car in the garage, then taking them down, moving everything out of the way, putting them back in , ….well, you get the idea. Oh, wait! Then I had to collect all the debris, cut the big branches down to reasonable size, move it all to the street, bag up all the little stuff, and yesterday morning (before it got too hot) I was on the roof cleaning out the gutters.

Here’s what it did to the porch and the pile of leftovers all over the yard:

hurricane-matthew-damage                                                               hurricane-matthew-leftovers

 

I have been told that I look like I am only in my late 40’s (I sleep in the fridge- it helps a lot), but I am in my early 60’s and really feeling it today. Oy!

I am grateful to God for making this first hurricane we have gone through relatively easy on us, although Haiti, the Bahama’s, and sections of America have had terrible damage, and deaths have resulted. For those who say, ” Meh- this wasn’t so bad.” they should consider the people who are burying their loved ones and can’t even go home after the funeral, because they don’t have a home, anymore.

So why does God do this to people? Why do they have to die in a weather event? These are the questions we ask each other, and we ask of God, aren’t they?

“Why did You do this?”

I can only answer for myself, and this is my opinion only: it’s because God doesn’t see things the way we do.

We see barely past our own noses, for the most part- we are self-absorbed and self-centered. It’s what we are, it’s who we are, it’s what the world tells us to be. God, on the other hand, is all about His children and the salvation He has planned for us. God doesn’t see life as the whole and death as the end: He knows that there is eternity following life. He knows that what we have is only fleeting, a mist, a memory, grass that springs up in the morning and is dried out and burned at evening. God is looking at things from an eternal viewpoint, so when people die and property is destroyed, God sees that as we see a scratch: it is a little bothersome today but by tomorrow it will be past, and by next week we will have totally forgotten we ever had a scratch- as if it had never even happened.

Of course, to us having a loved one killed or our homes destroyed is more than a scratch, but as I said, that is from our perspective. Our perspective is too limited- to help us get past these kinds of traumatic events in our lives, we need to see from God’s perspective.

Try to remember that what we go through now will be nothing more than a memory, if even that, when we are in God’s presence for all eternity. I wrote a post a while ago called “SWISH“- So What, I‘m Saved: Hallelujah! If my house has damage, SWISH. If I have lost a loved one SWISH (although I agree that is really hard to SWISH by); if I have a lot of cleanup to do and I am sore, SWISH.

I don’t mean to minimize the extent of the pain, damage and cost of a hurricane, but I do want to try to minimize it’s effect on my spirit and my attitude. There are better things to come, better days ahead, and eternity in the presence of God which will be a  joy forever.

All I am saying is that in the midst of Tsouris, try to remember and focus on the future in Paradise. And if you don’t have that future, then ask God to help you attain it. The invitation is written with your name on it, all you have to do is accept it and show up wearing the proper clothes- humility, T’Shuvah (repentance) and thankfulness.

Days of Awe are Here Again

L’Shonah Tovah! Happy New Year! Although it isn’t really the beginning of the year, biblically, it is still a celebratory day and a mandated Holy Day (see Leviticus 23.) The Rabbi’s have made this a civil new year (the beginning of the year for Jews is Pesach/Passover, see Exodus 12:2) and it is also the beginning of the Days of Awe.

The ten days after Rosh HaShannah, up to Yom Kippur, are a time for self-evaluation and reflection. We are to look inside ourselves and see what is there: is there repentance and a sense of T’Shuvah, or is there only rationalization and lame excuses for failing to even try to obey God?

We are to be in “awe” of God and His wonderful blessings, but I am more like, “Awe, shucks- I didn’t do as well as I wanted to do” when it comes to pleasing God. And that is the same way I feel every year, although I can say I have been doing much better since I started to worship God then before I knew Him or Messiah Yeshua (around February of 1997.)

I think of all the times in the past year I have done wrong to people: I wrote a nasty-gram at work, I chewed out my niece on Facebook (sorry, Heather- I love you and hate Facebook),  I even got mad at Donna once or twice (how could that ever happen?), and I am sure there are others I have hurt along the way that I am not even aware of having done so.

A traditional event at this time of the year is to ask forgiveness of those we have sinned against, and I do now, publicly, ask those named above, and anyone else I may have hurt, to please forgive me. I’m sorry. And I do this knowing that the forgiveness I need most is from God, for every sin I commit is against God, first and foremost. And I also want to remind all of you reading this that the forgiveness we all need from God is already here, through Messiah Yeshua. So many (in fact, almost every one) of my family disagree with my belief in Yeshua, but that is OK because they have a right to their opinion. God gave us all free will, and how well we use it is up to us. But you should at least be willing to ask why I believe as I do. If you are right, you have nothing to lose; if I am right, you have everything to gain. But I will not force you to listen. I will not force anyone to hear the truth about God and His Messiah.

What I (in fact, what all Believers) really should be doing is speaking with my actions, not my words.

During this time of introspection, review your actions over the past year but don’t beat yourself up over it. Getting distressed and upset about things you can’t change is giving power to the enemy, who will use the uselessness of wanting to change the past to destroy you. Remember the past so that you can have a more fruitful future; the best thing to do with past memories is use them to create a better future. I know people who will not let go of the past, who constantly live wanting the past to be different; consequently, their present is not as joyful as it could be and they can’t see any future. They live in limbo: feeling like they have no control, frustrated, angry and hateful. And through it all they haven’t a clue why they are so miserable.

Look back on this past year and decide how you will make next year better. Look to God for help and to His Ruach/Spirit for guidance. Read the Manual (Bible) every day to get good ideas about how to act, and how not to act, and (may I suggest) go through Proverbs slowly. There is more than a single lifetime of wisdom in that book.

All the commandments God gave to us were designed for one thing, and it isn’t just the proper way to worship Him (although that is in there), and it isn’t just what we are to eat (although that’s in there), and it isn’t just how we are to treat each other (you’ll find that there, too): the reason God gave us those laws (and He tells us why more than once) is so that by obeying them we will have long life, we will be happy, and we will live in peace.

Makes you wonder why anyone would not want to obey God’s laws?