How’d We Get to This?

In the beginning, there was God. Then he created the Earth and placed mankind in charge of it, and mankind screwed everything up to the point where God had to send the Flood. After the Flood, God chose a man, Abraham, to become the progenitor of a people God would make his own special people.

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Later on, God grew Abraham’s descendants from a family to a nation. Then, in order to train his chosen people how to become a nation of priests to the world (Ex. 19:6), he gave them instructions to teach them how to worship him and how to treat each other. This was the Torah, which if someone could live their lives in total and perfect accordance with all the 613 different “laws” that God gave, they would be righteous in God’s eyes.

But, as Shakespeare would say, “There’s the rub”: no one can live their life in perfect accordance with the Torah. For us sinful humans, it just ain’t gonna happen.

So, in order to ensure that God’s plan for his creation to be with him throughout eternity succeeds, he provided for us that which we could not provide for ourselves: a Savior, the Messiah, Yeshua (Jesus) who became the substitutionary sin sacrifice by voluntarily giving his physical life so that we could attain spiritual salvation.

Our part in this is to accept him as our Messiah and try to live as God said we should.

Yeshua was, and still is, the Messiah God promised to send, which he promised as far back as when he was talking to Abraham. When Yeshua sacrificed his life, he didn’t do away with the sacrificial system, he just substituted himself for the need to bring an animal to the temple in Jerusalem. We still need to accept that we sin, repent in our hearts and ask forgiveness from God for each and every sin we commit; it is thanks to Yeshua that we don’t have to bring a sacrifice to the temple because as the Messiah, God’s savior to mankind, is it possible through Yeshua’s one-time sacrifice that everyone’s sins can be forgiven each time they ask for forgiveness.

Let’s review… God gave the Torah so that we could know what he wants from us, and because we always failed to meet all those requirements, God sent the Messiah to provide us the chance to be saved from ourselves.

Guess what happened next? After all that God did for us, someone threw a monkey wrench into the engine, and that was the Enemy; HaSatan, that old snake. When he realized that he lost the battle for people’s souls, he confused people about Yeshua’s message. The way he did that was as more and more Gentiles came to know God’s Grace through the Messiah, he created confusion and misinterpretation within the newly formed congregations of Gentiles who didn’t understand the Torah.

He sent agents of distraction into these neophytes to Judaism to confuse them so much that they ended up rejecting the very principles of salvation that Yeshua taught, which were from the Torah. The end product of this demonic counter-attack is what we see today: so many different Christian religions and sects that reject almost all of God’s commandments.

Yeshua talked against the man-made traditions of the Pharisees that were given precedence over God’s commandments, and yet Christianity is composed of nothing BUT man-made traditions, holidays, rites, rituals, and laws. They have rejected God’s commandments regarding food (Leviticus 11); they reject all 7 festivals that God said we must observe (Leviticus 23), which does include the Sabbath because they changed the date; they bury their dead under the very altar of God; they fill their houses of worship with statues and pictures of human beings before whom they prostrate themselves and pray to; they have rebranded the Torah observant Jewish Messiah into some Blue-eyed, blonde-haired Aryian who created his own religion which rejects the Torah and hates Jews, and they teach and do many other things that the Torah tells us are an abomination to the Lord, God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the father of the Messiah!

Another example is that today there are many Christian churches that not only condone homosexuality, but support it: some are even anointing as pastors and ministers people who are openly gay.

Now, this is not a homophobic thing with me, so any gay person reading this, please pull in your reins: all I am stating is that the Torah clearly says homosexuality is a sin and as such, no church or synagogue that professes to worship and obey God should be accepting of homosexuality. That’s all. Just like they shouldn’t accept as leaders adulterers, murderers, or anyone else who openly rejects God’s commands and rules.

Let’s get back on topic: don’t think I am excluding the Jews because I am Jewish- far be it for me to do that! When we place more emphasis and importance on Talmudic regulations than on God’s commandments, that is just as bad as rejecting God’s commands. For instance, the regulations within Judaism against eating meat and dairy together; did you know that the Ashkenazi Jews have different regulations than the Sephardic Jews about this? And why? Because one group likes milk with their after-dinner drink and another doesn’t, so they have different times for how long you have to wait after eating meat before you can have dairy. The entirety of Halacha is based on the idea of “putting fences around the law” to prevent us from accidentally trespassing the law, which in and of itself isn’t such a bad idea, but it has become so cumbersome that now the fences are more important than what they surround!

God chose a people to bring his instructions to the world, and he blessed the world through those people, the greatest blessing of all was to have his Messiah come from those people to bring the salvation that God had for them to everyone.

The Enemy of God stepped in and messed things up, and for the most part, people have gone along with the “easy salvation” that the Enemy created and those poor, misguided and delusional souls will be sorely surprised when they come before God.

I suggest you make sure you know what God wants from you, based on what he says, because despite what anyone tells you, it is what he says that counts.

Thank you for being here and please share these messages, subscribe to this ministry (I never ask for money, but if you want to buy my books that is fine with me), and I always welcome your comments.

That’s it for now, so l’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

God Empowers; He Doesn’t Enable.

We are to ask God for whatever we need, and never stop praying. When we ask of God, invoking the name of the Messiah, his son, Yeshua, we will receive that which we ask for.

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This is a promise we have been given by Yeshua, himself, and it is trustworthy, so why is it that not everything we ask for is received?

Did Yeshua lie? Does God reject prayers in his son’s name haphazardly?

Of course not!

Often we pray for things we don’t really need but we want, stemming from worldly desire and not from wanting to better serve God. In other words, pray all you want to to win the lottery or for a new car because you’re bored with the one you have, but those aren’t the types of prayers God will honor.

Well, probably not: truthfully, I can’t speak for God, but I believe the types of prayers Yeshua was talking about are those in which we can do more for God’s work in the world. If you pray for money so that you can continue to run a ministry, that is more likely to be answered than asking for money so you can get a new lawnmower.

And any righteous prayer you make is heard, but God will not always do all you ask. More often than not, at least in my personal experience, God expects you to make an effort to achieve that which you are praying about.

If you are suffering from some disease and pray for healing, God will hear you but I think he will expect you to continue to take your medicine, listen to the doctors, and work towards getting better.

If you are having financial difficulties and need to find a better job, pray to God for help, but don’t expect to get a phone call out of the blue offering you a job. You need to write that updated resume and get it out there so that God can then make sure the right people see it.

Our God is a God of action, not a God of sitting around waiting for it to happen.

Abraham is a great example of what I am talking about: maybe you haven’t thought about it, but Abraham was in his late 90s and Sarah in her early 90s when God said he would have a son through Sarah. Abraham believed him, so what do you think he must have done that night, and for a number of nights after that? Uh-huh, that’s right, even though they were both way past the age for doing that. Abraham knew that God would empower him but not do it all for him.

When God told the Prophets to take his word to the people, except for Jonah (at first), they immediately told the people what God told them to say, despite the “flak” they took for speaking it, especially Jeremiah!

In my own life, if I may share this with you, I asked God repeatedly to help me see people as he sees them and not the way TV and marketing companies have taught me to see people, which is as sexually attractive things. Let’s face it: we are indoctrinated by TV and the media to identify people by their sexual attractiveness or by some other physical attribute. I mean, how many ugly people do you see on the TV or in magazines drinking Pepsi or driving a new model car?

Back to the point: I asked God, and still do, to simply excise this part of my brain and you know what he told me? He said it doesn’t work that way: I have to take charge of myself and try to control what I do, remembering what it is that he wants from me. But he hasn’t left me alone: he does help me.

For instance, if I look at a cute woman jogging and think she is attractive, even though it isn’t lustful, just seeing her as a sexual entity instead of as a person is what I have asked God to help me stop doing, or when I have arguments in my head that I have asked him to help me overcome (I have posted in the past about how wrong it is to rehearse our anger), I find that something happens to take my mind off those thoughts. Most of the time this happens when I am driving somewhere, and as I start to do what is wrong, all of a sudden the car ahead of me will hit the brakes for no observable reason, shocking me back into reality. Or I will bite my tongue or something unusual will take my mind away from what I am doing.

It took me a while to realize that these weren’t coincidences, they were God answering my prayer by empowering me to overcome that which I asked him to take away from me. You see, by having things take my mind off what I am thinking, he is taking me off the wrong path and allowing me to get back onto the right path. It’s like we are working together, and you know what? It’s kind of cool being able to team up with God.

So here is the point: pray for what you need and not just for what you want, pray for that which helps you to do more for God, and then get off your tuchas and do what needs to be done, as if you have ready been answered.

Now, that doesn’t mean pray for a new job then go quit- no, that isn’t smart. And don’t pray for something in order to test God- he doesn’t really like it when we do that, and that prayer probably won’t be answered.

Pray to God, ask for what you believe you need to be a better and more obedient servant to God, and then trust in God to answer. The answer may not come right away, and the answer may not be what you expect or ask for, exactly, but it will be for what you need. And the answer may also be…No! No, not never, or no, not just yet, but that doesn’t mean your prayer isn’t going to have results. Maybe God is saying “No” because he needs you to reevaluate what you are asking about.

There is no easy answer to why prayers are answered sometimes and why they aren’t other times, but the idea is to keep praying and keep asking, just as in the parable Yeshua told about the woman asking the unfair judge for justice. She became such a nudge that the judge finally gave her justice just to get her off his back.

God already wants to do good things for you and he knows what is best for you; he will answer your prayers but he won’t do it all for you because he empowers us but he won’t enable us.

Thank you for being here and please subscribe, share these messages and I always welcome your comments.

That’s it for today, so l’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Does the Real Messiah Reject God?

I’ll bet you are thinking, “Now, what kind of a stupid question is that? How can the Messiah, the son of God, the servant of God, the savior of the world, possibly reject God?”

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Frankly, I don’t see how that is possible, but, then again, Christianity has been teaching that for millennia.

“What do you mean, Steve? When did Christianity teach that the Messiah rejected God?”

When it told people that the Torah is no longer valid or necessary for salvation.

“But, wait a minute…isn’t legalism wrong? Isn’t it true that we are saved by faith? “

Yes, we are saved by faith, but only the right kind of faith.

“Huh?”

Faith is, in its basic form, the result of a choice we each make to believe in something. When it comes to Yeshua (Jesus) and God, Christianity pretty much says believe that God exists and that Jesus is the Messiah and you can be saved. But that isn’t the kind of faith that will save you, because, even as we are told in the Bible, Satan and every demon in hell believes that God exists and that Jesus is his Messiah. Not only are they not saved, but they have already been thrown out of heaven and doomed to eternal damnation.

So what good is their faithful belief in God and Yeshua?

And as for Torah observance, that isn’t going to do you any good, either, not if you depend on performance being able to save you. No one can be in total accordance with the Torah, ever. That is why we need a Messiah, DUH!

And if you say you have faithful obedience to the Torah, if your faith is not heartfelt and internal, such as with David, then your obedience will also be useless. Saul sacrificed to God but for the wrong reasons and it cost him his kingship, and through the Prophets, God told us, more than once, that he doesn’t care about our going through the motions- he wants us to be obedient because we want to be obedient to demonstrate our love and respect for him.

So how does this come together to be the right kind of faith?

First, we must understand that belief in God and Yeshua as the Messiah is not the guarantee of salvation, it is just the beginning of being saved.

Second, we have to understand the difference between legalism and Torah observance: legalism is the belief in performance-based salvation, meaning that salvation comes only through the performance of everything that is written in the Torah. Torah observance can be faith-based salvation when that observance is the result of wanting to obey the Torah as the means of showing God we respect and trust him, and because when you love someone you want to do what pleases them.

So, we know legalism is useless, faith has to be more than accepting the existence of God and Messiah, and that Torah observance is not wrong so long as it is based on wanting to please God.

And now, we learn from James the final part of this lesson about correct faith (James 2:14-17):

What good is it, my brothers, if someone claims to have faith but has no actions to prove it? Is such “faith” able to save him?  Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food, and someone says to him, “Shalom! Keep warm and eat hearty!” without giving him what he needs, what good does it do? Thus, faith by itself, unaccompanied by actions, is dead.

The “actions” James talks about are what we call mitzvot, which means both “laws” and “good deeds”, and what deeds are better than those that God tells us to perform, which (by the way) are also laws?

So, let’s make certain we are all on the same page: legalism is performance-based salvation and useless while faith-based salvation (which is how we are saved) must be more than just accepting the truth that God is God and Yeshua is the Messiah. And, the way we demonstrate this proper faith is through doing good works, which is the same as obeying what is in the Torah.

Yeshua the Messiah clearly did many good works, and he also told us that he only does and says what his father in heaven tells him to do and say, meaning that he obeyed everything in the Torah.

So, back to the original question: does the real Messiah reject God?

Of course not, and this is how we know Yeshua is the real Messiah, or better yet, how we can know who is NOT the real Messiah.

Now, here comes the kicker, Folks: the “Jesus” that Christianity presents as the Messiah, the one who says love is all you need and who teaches that the Torah is no longer necessary, is NOT THE REAL MESSIAH!

I know that because when you teach to reject the Torah, you are teaching to reject God. And this wrongful teaching, which has been taught throughout the millennia, telling people that ANY Torah observance is legalism and thereby useless to them, is how this false Messiah has gotten people to sin while thinking they are actually being saved.

The Torah has the only direct-from-God instructions on how to worship him and treat each other, and he tells us that is all we need to know. It defines sin and tells us the rewards we receive for obedience and the consequences of disobedience (Deuteronomy 28).

Yeshua lived in perfect accordance with the Torah because he was the only one who could, and because of his perfect obedience he was able to receive salvation, and as such, become the sin sacrifice for everyone. His Torah observance was not from trying to earn salvation, but from being trustfully and lovingly obedient to his father.

That is the type of Torah observance I try to maintain, and constantly fail to do. Thank God for Yeshua! Without him, none of us would have any chance of being saved from ourselves. Being obedient to God is what God requires of us: not just for salvation but also to receive blessings, which we CAN earn!

Here is all you need to know to be saved: salvation must be based on faith, and that faith must be the correct kind of faith, the one that results in wanting to do good works, which is (here we are again!) those things that God tells us to do in the Torah.

Thank you for being here and please subscribe, share these messages with everyone, and check out my website and the books I have written.

And please remember that I always welcome your comments.

That’s it for this week- I have new sliding glass doors being installed all day tomorrow so I will be skipping my usual Friday Torah parashah message.

Until next week, then…l’hitraot, Baruch HaShem and an early Shabbat Shalom!

Oy Vey!! I almost forgot to say Chag Sameach because tomorrow is Purim! I am taking my first try at making hamantashen today, so wish me luck!

Shalom.

Different Religion: Same Mistakes

I have always been so disappointed when I think about all the different Judeo-Christian religious doctrines.

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Don’t we have only one God, one God who is the same today, as he was yesterday, and will never change throughout eternity?

Didn’t this one God give us just one set of rules and send only one Messiah?

You say “Yes”? Then why are there scores of different religions, each one professing to worship this one unchanging God, but they all have different ways to do that, with different rites, ceremonies, holidays, and traditions?

I am Jewish, born and raised, and what is even cooler is that I recently found out that I have the genetic marker of the Levite! But I was raised Reform, and when I was a child I recall some Orthodox Jew calling me a “Goy.”

The Hebrew word “Goyim” means “nations”, as in everyone else except the Jewish people, and the term “Goy” has come to be a derogatory expletive within Judaism for any Gentile.

And when I was a child, my Catholic friends, well…they accused me of killing God.

Judaism isn’t really, in my opinion, a religion as much as it is a lifestyle. God gave us, through Moses, instructions on how to worship him and how to treat each other, and God also gave us a mandate, which is to be a nation of priests to the world (Genesis 19:6), which means that we are to teach everyone else how to live in accordance with God’s instructions. And despite having these instructions written down, we failed to comply with them, over and over.

Let’s review just some of the mistakes that we Jews made since receiving the Torah:

  • We created an idol (the Golden Calf);
  • We failed to obey the Sabbath rule regarding resting of the land (which is why we had to spend 70 years in Babylon);
  • We rejected God’s authority through his prophets and demanded a king;
  • Our rabbis have added many difficult traditions to the relatively simple rules God gave us in the Torah by creating Halacha (the Walk) in the Talmud; and
  • We have rejected Yeshua as the Messiah (this was a BIG mistake!)

These are just a few of the main ones. So, if you were creating your own religion from Judaism (since that was the original and only religion that worshiped Adonai, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob), wouldn’t you avoid all those mistakes, mistakes which the Tanakh had identified and which you could see, over the centuries before Messiah came, resulted in disaster and destruction for the Jews?

Don’t you think that someone creating their own religion would do everything they could not to make those same boo-boos?

Apparently not.

Let’s look at Christianity (this includes all forms of it):

  • They created an idol: just walk into any church and see a graven image on a cross, or statues of saints all over that people bow and pray to;
  • They created holidays that God never gave us, which by itself may not be so bad, but they totally ignore the ones God commanded us to observe;
  • They not only changed the day we observe the Sabbath, but they totally changed the rules about how to observe it;
  • They reject most of God’s instructions which he gave in the Torah;
  • They created their own king and call him the Pope; and
  • They rebranded the Messiah as an ex-Jew who negated his father’s laws and created his own religion, in which he is God!

WOW! I mean, really? Just make up whatever rules you want to, ignore the ones you don’t like, and keep only what you don’t mind doing. Label some commandments ceremonial and therefore, unimportant, even though God told us to do them! Wouldn’t that imply it is important to him?

And, in my opinion, what is worse of all is that traditional Christianity ignores most of what truly came directly from God (the Torah and the books of the Prophets) and teaches almost exclusively a misinterpretation of the letters from a man who wasn’t receiving what he wrote from God, but was micro-managing congregations of Gentiles learning to be Jewish.

That’s right- I am talking about the Epistles of Paul. Everything he wrote was to congregations of Gentiles that he formed, who were learning how to live a “Jewish” lifestyle instead of the pagan lifestyle they had lived, previously. What he wrote was not a direct commandment from God, like what Moses and the prophets received, but letters to micro-manage the internal, interpersonal problems that his congregations were facing.

Paul never taught to ignore the Torah: he was teaching how to obey it, but little-by-little, line-by-line, precept-by-precept.

If that sounds vaguely familiar, you can find it in Isaiah 28:10 when he was chiding the Israelites about how they were ignoring and disobeying God and how they had to learn like children.

As we can now see, the Christian religions, as well as within the different sects of Judaism (we’re still making mistakes!), have all made their own sets of rules, ceremonies, rites, and holidays that are different from what God commanded us to do. So, nu? What do we do now?

The obvious answer is to get back on the program. But that will never happen, I am sorry to say, simply because we have been doing this for so long that the people are comfortable with what they have learned and refuse to change. Humans, in general, hate change; if you don’t believe that, at your workplace try to institute a different procedure- any procedure- and see how willing people are to do it.

No, these tares have already been growing with the wheat for so long that there’s nothing left to do now but wait for the harvest (Matthew 13).

The good news is that until the harvest comes, those tares have a chance to become wheat!

This is what I believe (in a nutshell): the Torah is still valid, Yeshua is the Messiah God promised and through our repentance and by means of Yeshua’s sacrifice, we can be forgiven of our sins.

I am not preaching performance-based salvation (you might know it as “legalism”) but faith-based salvation, remembering that in James 2:14 we are told faith without works (meaning obedience to the Torah) is dead. No one can be sinless, but we all can sin less by not trusting only in our religious leaders but verifying what they tell us by reading the Bible and asking the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) to guide us in our understanding of what God wants from us.

God has wonderful blessings for us, but we won’t get them by making up our own rules, so STOP making the same mistakes we have all, always made and get with the program GOD laid out for you.

Thank you for being here and please subscribe, share these messages with everyone you know to help this ministry grow, and remember that I always welcome your comments.

That’s it for now, so l’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

There’s No Unity in Babel

In the Book of Genesis, Chapter 11 we read about the Tower of Babel, and how God said that because they had just one language and all the people were unified, they would be able to accomplish anything. In order to stop them from building the tower which was, in reality, an edifice to self-righteousness, God broke their unity by confusing them with different languages and scattered them all over the earth.

Subsequently, war and inter-personal animosity became world-wide.

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The level of animosity we have in the USA today is at an all-time high. Racial, religious, and political intolerance is rampant, exacerbated by technology which allows anyone to say anything they want to on the Internet. The real problem is that humans, for the most part, when hearing something told to them over and over, no matter how absurd it may be, will eventually accept it as truth.

And once they do, they won’t easily change their minds.

Add to this the innate iniquity (desire to sin) that we all have, as well as the self-indulgent society we have all been indoctrinated into, and you have a recipe for… well, for what we have today: disunity on a national scale.

Today we are hearing a lot about unity. And I believe it is a bunch of political rhetoric, meaning that it sounds nice but the reality is that it won’t ever come to be because there is an essential part of the formula for unity that is missing, from the top down, and has been absent for many years now.

That essential ingredient, that foundation, that keystone to unity is: compassion.

Today everyone wants you to talk to them with compassion for their feelings, but no one wants to make the effort to listen with compassion; no one wants to consider, if they are upset by what you say, that maybe you are feeling bad or having troubles! Hell, no- you said something I don’t like and therefore YOU are wrong!

In my many years in the corporate world, I have seen how filing a complaint with Human Resources (which used to be called Personnel, but they aren’t personable anymore) means that the first one to complain wins. No longer do we get together and try to work out our differences to form a closer relationship, no! Nowadays, you complain about me and I am wrong. Period; end of story; don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

There can never be unity without compassion. As I stated above, and which is confirmed many times in the Bible, humans are selfish, stiff-necked, and self-absorbed beings who want only to sin. The only way we can overcome sin is by following the way God tells us to worship, live, and treat each other. That is possible only because when we accept God and his Messiah, we are given the gift of the Ruach haKodesh (the Holy Spirit) which doesn’t force us to do anything but gently teaches and guides us to do what is right.

Compassion is not something we can demand: it is something we must earn, like trust, by first showing we have it for others. Then they will return it. Think of compassion as a beneficial disease, one that can be contagious, but yet it remains a rare disease.

I have no answer for how to create unity in the world, let alone just trying to get it started here in the US. We are really in trouble, and personally, I believe we are being judged by God for our sinfulness over the past 70 years (reminds me of the exile we read about in Jeremiah.) Ever since 1950, we have become more and more sexually perverse, more and more individually centered, and less and less nationalistic, to the point where today the government supports murdering children, sexual perversity, and has kicked God out of our society, schools, and courtrooms.

The best thing I can think to do is persevere and try to show compassion in how I deal with everyone, especially within the religious discussion groups I am a member of. It is so sad to see within many different groups, groups of so-called believers in God and Messiah, the animosity, intolerance, and lack of compassion they have for each other.

I mean, really? If those who believe in God and Messiah can’t demonstrate self-restraint, tolerance, and compassion for each other, then what chance does the world have?

I know all about not having compassion because I don’t have any. I can never be a Rabbi because I really don’t like people, and have little compassion for them. I especially have no patience for fools, but I try. That is the best I can do, and by trying, even if by accident, I will show compassion and that is (at least) something.

The problem is so few in the world today are even willing to try. People forget the old adage that when you point your finger at someone, there are 3 fingers pointing back to you. As Yeshua said, first remove the log from your own eye before telling your brother (or sister) to remove the splinter from theirs.

So, try being more compassionate in how you talk and even more importantly, how you listen to people. If someone is saying really nasty things, even as your blood pressure rises, control yourself and think about the times that you said mean things you didn’t mean but said because you were hurting. Mean people are always people in pain, and if we can remember that and deal with them compassionately, well, you will be surprised at how quickly they can turn around and return your goodwill.

Proverbs tells us many times that we should treat those who mistreat us with compassion and how a gentle word will turn away anger.

If only people would do that, but they don’t, so it is up to us, the ones who worship God, accept Messiah Yeshua and have received the Holy Spirit, to show them how.

Thank you for being here and please share these messages, subscribe to my YouTube channel and the website ministry, and remember that I always welcome your comments.

That’s it for now, so l’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

How Ya’ Doin’?

I don’t have anything on my calendar to talk about today so I thought I would just check-in with you and ask how you are doing with all the mishigas in the world today.

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Oh, how are we doing? Well, thanks for asking: Donna and I are doing very well. We each have schedules that we enjoy. Donna volunteers twice a week at a local animal hospital specifically for native wildlife and is also on their committees for fund-raising and educational activities.

I post to this ministry three times a week, golf twice a week (weather permitting- it has been unusually wet this winter) and ride my bicycle three times a week. I also like to work-out once a week at Cocoa Beach Aerial Adventure, which is a sort of obstacle course in the air. If you’re interested, here is a link to a YouTube of me doing one of the courses: Steve playing Tarzan.

But how are YOU doing? With the polarization of Americans at an all-time high, animosity at an all-time high, and unity at an all-time low, not to mention the hyper-hyping of this pandemic, most everyone is ready to pop about 30 Prozac a day!

Oy! What a mess!

If you are feeling a bit overwhelmed and miss being able to get together with friends and family or travel, I have often posted how I believe that those who are concerned for their health should take whatever precautions they need to, but not force it on anyone else. Our governments, both federal and state, have taken charge of our lives and forced people to “be considerate”, i.e. wear masks and stop socializing in order to stem the spread of COVID, but really? Has it worked?

It’s been a year and the numbers climb every time we open up a little, so it seems clear, at least to me, that whatever we are doing is not stopping anything, it is just delaying it. Now with an “approved” vaccine, maybe once enough people have been vaccinated (and no, I have no intention of taking it) we will be able to get back to a normal life.

Of course, given the current level of racial tensions in America, not to mention how the recent election has been used to “justify” domestic terrorism (which is also at an all-time high), I can’t help but think that as badly as the economy has suffered due to the way the pandemic was handled, we haven’t hit bottom, yet.

I think there is still another shoe to drop.

So, nu? Where am I going with all this? Frankly, nowhere: I am rambling on and hoping that something will pop into my head, or maybe into your head and you will make a comment that can help us feel better.

I know that God is in charge, and I know, also, from having been “in charge” for most of my professional career, that being in charge doesn’t always mean running the show. Sometimes being in charge means allowing things to progress on their own, and then straightening it all out later.

I believe that the physical things we are suffering with now – racial tensions, political polarization, disunity, and rampant animosity- are just the outer covering for what is really happening, which is the spiritual judgment that is falling on this country. We have sinned against God for so long, in so many ways, that we are now going to feel his wrath. His justified and well-deserved wrath.

So how are ya doin? Are you financially OK? Are you in good health? Are you still working? Well, if you are OK with all of these things, thank God for that. But, still and all, you better buckle up, Baby, because the ride is just starting!

When you know what is coming, you can be better prepared for it, not just physically but emotionally and spiritually. If you are not a godly person, well what the heck are doing here? I mean, it’s great that you are, and hopefully, you will listen and repent. And if you are already a godly person, which is why you are here, then steel yourself, gird on that armor of God (Ephesians 6) and watch your “6” because when the stuff hits the fan, you won’t know your friends from your enemies.

We are just beginning to feel the birth pains of what is still to come. I don’t know if this is the final judgment, the Acharit HaYamim (End Days), or just a judgment on the USA for having rejected God, but it is here and you can’t avoid it. So, as I said, buckle up and try to last out the ride.

Remember that perseverance builds faith, and we can all use more faith, so look to the end and try not to let the current situation get you down. God is, ultimately, in charge and even though others think they are running the show, they aren’t and HE is!

And God will never abandon those who love him.

Thank you for being here and please subscribe, share these messages (yes, even this one) with everyone you know, and I always welcome your comments.

That’s it for now, so l’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Just be Nice to Each Other

Isn’t it sad how so many of those who profess to be Believers in Messiah and to worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob treat each other like non-Believers do?

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We all see it, all the time: if someone disagrees with someone else, they first try to change the person’s mind, then they devolve into accusations, insults, and eventually berate the person, judging them as faithless or sinful or state that they aren’t really saved.

If you ask me, that is one of the greatest sins we commit against God- that’s right, against G-O-D! When we sin, any sin, it is not only against each other but, as David knew and said in Psalm 51, every single sin is first and foremost a sin against God!

And so often, actually almost all the time, the person sinning against another is doing so over a topic that isn’t even a salvation issue.

When I use the term “salvation issue”, I mean a topic that is a foundation stone of our forgiveness and salvation through Messiah Yeshua. For example, accepting that Yeshua (Jesus) IS the Messiah God promised to send is a salvation issue, but how to pronounce his name is not. Another example: faith that God does exist and that he is the one and only true God is a salvation issue, but whether or not we should celebrate traditional holidays that honor him or just the ones he told us to do (in Leviticus 23) is not a “make or break” salvation decision.

Praying to God using a name for him that you have always known to mean the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is not wrong. But, when you tell someone else when praying to the “Lord” is calling on the pagan god Ba’al, that IS wrong! God knows who we mean- he sees and knows the heart! And to tell someone praying to God that they are really calling on a pagan god is, well, I believe it is a sin against God. Why? Because you are telling someone else what God thinks. And, if you think you are right in doing that, I suggest you read the Book of Job; at the end of the book you will find out what God says about people who speak for him.

Spoiler Alert: God wasn’t very happy about it!

We need to treat everyone, Believer or not, in the way God says we should. That is one of the two main reasons he gave us his commandments: one is to know how he wants us to worship him, and the other is to know how he wants us to treat each other. Yeshua said the whole of the Torah is based on two commandments: to love God and to love each other, so when we have discussions, and yes – even heated discussions- we must NOT be like the pagans are and accuse each other of stupidity, lack of faith, or ignorance.

Even if someone is ignorant, it is not for us to tell them that.

For myself, if this helps at all, I try to always listen to what the other person says and verify their source. I learned as a Salesman (and I was successful at it because of this) that people will always tell you how to close them if you ask the right questions and listen to what they are saying. The same goes for discussions about God, the Messiah, or interpreting the Bible. When there are different opinions, you should listen and analyze what the other is saying, then approach each part of their argument, agreeing where there may be agreement, and when disagreeing, not telling them that they are wrong, but simply saying why you believe differently.

I can guarantee that you will rarely (if ever) win an argument by telling the other person they are wrong. The way to change someone’s mind is to first make them doubt what they believe, and that is done not by attacking them but by asking them why they believe what they do. Then, for each reason they give you, if it is based on incorrect information or is just plain wrong, don’t tell them that. Instead, tell them why you believe what you do, and make an excellent argument with proof of why you believe this way.

Then leave it up to them.

After having explained to them what you “know” to be right, it is better for all if you leave them believing something that is wrong and allow God to work on their heart. God gave everyone the right to make up their own mind, we call it Free Will, and when we try to take away that right we are acting against what God has done.

As the expression goes, don’t burn your bridges behind you, and when we have many different people in discussion groups discussing and debating about many different spiritual and theological issues, you don’t want to burn bridges for anyone else, either. I have seen too many people leave a group or ignore any further discussion about a topic because of the way someone has treated them.

We can’t afford to treat each other in a way that weakens the bond of brethren within the body of Messiah. It is enough to have the outside world attack and persecute us- do we really need to add to that by destroying each other? Didn’t Yeshua tell us that a house divided against itself cannot stand?

So, please, going forward be aware of how you deal with others in these inevitable debates about the Bible, God, and religious rites. We will always have people who disagree, but we can’t let that cause strife and division within the body of Believers.

Let me finish with this: when one person in a discussion begins to attack the other person on a personal basis, then all is lost. It is no longer a discussion, it is now a battle of pride. DO NOT return fire; shake the dust off your sandals and move on.

If you do this, you will be avoiding sin and that is always pleasing to God.

Thank you for being here and please share these messages to help this ministry grow, subscribe to my website and YouTube channel, as well, and I always welcome your comments.

That’s it for today, so l’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

The First and the Last- What Else Could it Mean?

The Alpha and the Omega, the Alef and the Tav, the First and the Last- all of these descriptions are made by God, the Father, about himself from Isaiah all the way through to Revelation.

But Yeshua, the son of God and the Messiah, also says that he is the First and the Last, so is he saying he is God, too? Or could he mean something else?

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When God refers to himself in this way, he is announcing his ultimate authority and eternal nature. He is the first, meaning that he created everything, and he is the last, meaning that when he is done judging the earth, there will be nothing afterward.

God is the only one, true God and there is no other besides him, which is how he declares himself when he states he is the first and the last. Unique, eternal, creator and finisher of everything there has been, is now, and ever will be.

But what does Yeshua mean when he says he is the first and the last?

Well, let’s look at these statements using the proper context.

In Isaiah 44 God is telling Israel, through Isaiah, that there are no other gods and their sins, which are from idol worship, will be forgiven them and they should look forward to that. But, in the meantime, God is declaring that he has been around forever, he knows all that will happen, and who else can do that?
In essence, he is declaring (as I have already said) that he is unique in all of creation- there is one, and only one, God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Now, Yeshua also declared that he is the beginning and the end, and he does so only in Revelation 22:12-13. Here is the only place where the context of the paragraph shows it is Yeshua saying he is the A and the Z, and he says so not in accordance with creation but with the forgiving of sins. He states he is the root of David, the Morning Star, and he will come soon with his rewards to give to each person according to what he has done. His description of himself is that of the Messiah, not of God.

Yeshua is not identifying himself as God but as the Messiah- the son of David, the Morning Star, and the one who will allow those who have accepted him to drink from the water of life.

Now, I don’t want this message to devolve into an argument about Trinity vs. Unity, PLEASE! That is not the point here. The traditional Christian thought is that where God, the Father is clearly talking about how he is the A and the Z, those statements are accredited to Jesus by those who believe he and God are the same entity. Fine, I don’t agree but whether or not this is true, it isn’t my point here.

My point is that when God, the Father, says he is the A and the Z he is saying he is the only God. When Yeshua refers to himself as the A and the Z, he is saying that he is the only Messiah. Both statements are absolutes, and each refers to a different issue: God is the A and Z of Creation and Yeshua is the A and Z of Forgiveness.

After the Temple was destroyed, there was no way for Jews to sacrifice and, therefore, no way to be cleansed of their sin, but with Yeshua, we were able to be cleansed because he replaced the need to bring an animal to the Temple, as Torah demanded. That is why he says he is the beginning (of forgiveness after the temple was destroyed), and because with him there is no need to sacrifice anymore, he is also the end (of forgiveness.)

There is only one God, and there is only one Messiah, and each one is unique: God as the eternal authority and power, and Yeshua as the only means of salvation.

Remember, also, that Yeshua warned us of false Messiahs, which is why he says he is the A and the Z: he is confirming that he is the one and only Messiah.

When either God or Yeshua makes the statement “I am the Alpha and the Omega”, it is a metaphor to mean there is no other like me! It identifies the eternal nature of God and the uniqueness of the Messiah, Yeshua. Only one God, only one Messiah: no other God and no other Messiah before, now, or ever again.

Next time you read the statement “I am the Alpha and the Omega”, when God says it he means he is the only true God who was, who is, and will ever be; and, when Yeshua says it, he means he is the first Messiah who ever was, is, and will ever be.

God is God and the Messiah is the Messiah, and each was, is, and always be the only one of their kind: the Alpha and the Omega.

Thank you for being here and please subscribe, share these messages with others, and I always welcome your comments.

That’s it for now; L’hitraot, and Baruch HaShem!

Legalism Resurrected

Today I want to talk about how Legalism is being resurrected within the current body of Gentile Believers.

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For the purpose of this discussion, let us define legalism as the proposition that for a Gentile to be fully incorporated into salvation through Messiah Yeshua, he or she must follow every Torah commandment (as if anyone could, right?) just as any natural-born Jewish person would be required to do, which includes (only for the men, of course), circumcision.

In the Book of Galatians, we read how Shaul (Paul) warned the Gentile Believers that trying to obey the Torah in order to achieve salvation was wrong and that it was their faith that mattered more than their strict observance of every, single Mosaic commandment. He never said the Torah was invalid for Gentile Believers, just that to obey (and this is VERY important to understand) as the means to gain salvation was not correct. To obey as the means to gain salvation is what I call performance-based salvation, which is not how we are saved (because no one can perfectly obey the Torah- the Bible is clear on that point); we are saved through faith-based salvation, and that faith is demonstrated by our desire and actions with regard to obeying the Torah.

In other words, if we faithfully accept that God exists, is who he says he is, that Yeshua is the Messiah God promised to send, and we accept that without facts or proof, that faith (as James says in his letter) will motivate us to want to obey what God says in the Torah.

I believe that legalistic, i.e., performance-based salvation, in the long run, is counter-productive.

Why? Because no one can be sinless, no one can be completely obedient to the Torah all the time, and when humans constantly fail to do something, eventually they tend to give up trying. And when you are raised as a Gentile, being taught that Yeshua did away with the Torah and you don’t have to do any of that “Jewish” stuff, when you try to do it and fail you go back to the incorrect teachings of Constantinian Christianity, which is “just be a good person and believe in Jesus (whatever that means) and you go to heaven.”

Gentiles are raised to pray to graven images of saints, ignore God’s commanded Holy Days, and instead follow man-made traditions which include holidays and religious ceremonies and rites, all the time telling Jews that Jesus said following man-made traditions is wrong! They ignore the Torah and act superior to Jews because Jews rejected Jesus and they didn’t, so they are really God’s chosen people now (this is called Replacement Theology), completely forgetting that Shaul warned his Gentile Believers not to brag or think they are better than the Jews.

So, now that we have gotten that straightened out, with me going just a wee bit off-topic, the legalism I see being proliferated today is no different than what the new Believers had to deal with in the First Century, except for one major difference: it is now the Gentiles who are demanding performance in order to be truly saved!

I have seen postings about how it is essential to use God’s name, and that there is only one correct name, yet there are many different ideas on what that name is. I see people posting about how there is only one correct calendar to use, or how only the Bible-defined Holy Days are to be celebrated, any other celebration is sinful.

In fact, they say that using any name for God other than the one they think is correct is praying to idols and pagan gods. Celebrating man-made holidays, even the Jewish ones, is a sin. Celebrating any Sabbath, even if the person is celebrating it in a way that God said to, i.e. resting and not doing their normal labor, is a sin if it isn’t Friday night to Saturday night.

None of these things have anything to do with faith. They are, clearly, legalistic because they demand performance in order to be able to have salvation.

If I do not celebrate a Holy Day as commanded in the Book of Leviticus, then I am disobeying God, and that is a sin. No question about it. But if I celebrate Christmas as the means for me to give thanks for the birth of the Messiah, that is not a sin. There is nothing at all anywhere in the Torah that says man-made traditions or celebrations are wrong just because God didn’t say we have to. If the celebration is a heartfelt desire to worship and glorify God, how can that be wrong?

But these legalistic ideas of needing to be exactly on the right day, using the exact name for God when praying, not doing anything that isn’t specifically commanded in the Torah, are all performance-based salvation teachings, and as such, are wrong!

Abraham was not considered righteous because he knew how to pronounce God’s name, or because he celebrated the proper holy days (they weren’t even invented yet), or because he was circumcised (he wasn’t at that time), or for any other performance-related activity.

Yes, he performed as God asked him to when he went from his father’s house into a strange land, but he didn’t do that because he was told he had to in order to be saved; he did it because he believed God when God said he would take him to a land which God will give him where his descendants could live, forever.

It was Abraham’s faith that motivated him to act; legalism doesn’t need faith or even care about it, and that is how you tell the difference between doing faithfully, and doing legalistically.

If you try to do what the Torah says to do because you want to obey God that is fine. If you try to do what the Torah says to do because you want to earn blessings that is fine, too; in truth, God tells us that when we do as he says he will bless us.

But…if you try to do anything that is considered obedient to the Torah because you want to ensure your salvation by not doing anything wrong, then you are being legalistic. You will ALWAYS do something wrong, that is why from the very beginning God knew he would have to send us a Messiah to provide the means to overcome our own inability to be holy.

If you got circumcised because you felt it was important to you to obey that commandment, that is OK; but, if you got circumcised because you knew it was a commandment and you wanted to be obedient so that you get points with God, then your circumcision is useless to you.

Doing something in order to be worthy of salvation or to be “right” is legalism: doing something because your faith in God motivates you to please him means you are on the right track, even if what you do is not specified in the Torah or you don’t do something exactly as it is specified in the Torah.

The key difference between performance-based and faith-based obedience is your motivation. If you do something to be “right” you are being legalistic, and if you do something to please God, you are demonstrating your faith.

Faith-based actions are things we do because we want to please the Lord, and legalistic actions are what we do to be “right.”

I know this is a difficult thing to comprehend, and I hope I have explained what I believe in a way that you can understand; ultimately, obedience in order just to be obedient is not faith.

Thank you for being here and please subscribe, share these messages with everyone, buy my books, and check out my website. And I always welcome your comments, especially today- if you understand what I am saying and agree, and think you can express it in a better way, please do so.

That’s it for now, so L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!