Am I Preaching to the Choir?

I write these messages three times a week. They are automatically posted to the Messianic Moment page associated with my “public” Facebook page, and I share them on a number of discussion groups of which I am a member.

Recently, as I was going through my Facebook notifications, writing my opinion and answering comments, it struck me that although I am sharing, learning and teaching in these groups, as are the other members, I realized that I was preaching to the choir.

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

After all, aren’t the members of these groups already Believers? Yes, they are (or at least they profess to be), and aren’t the statements and interpretations we share staying in this group and (maybe) not being taken into the darkness, where they are most desperately needed?

We who are members of discussion groups and go to congregational meetings, whether that be a Bible study in someone’s home, a synagogue or a church, are there with “birds of a feather”, so to speak, and even though we can edify, educate and support each other, that is not the only place where we are supposed to be talking about God, Messiah and the future of people. The place we are really supposed to be spreading this word is out there in the world- to the uninitiated, the incorrectly taught, the atheist, the unbeliever and the lost.

I have this blog designed to automatically post to my Messianic Moment page, but will now start to make sure it is also posted on my regular, public Facebook page so that all my friends, my family, and acquaintances can see it.

If you find yourself absorbed in discussion groups but not posting or sharing posts from those groups to your public Facebook friends (the ones that are worth sharing- be selective), I would ask you to start doing so. And talk about God, using discernment and discretion, at work, at play, and everywhere you go, to both those you know and to strangers.

I will often take something from the Bible that fits into the conversation and add it as something I have read or heard someone say once. I wait for a response while observing their body language, and if they seem interested I will tell them it comes from the Bible. Then I again wait to see if they ask where or who said it, and if so then I can segue into talking about God and Messiah, gently and in a way to maintain their interest through asking them questions. I will also ask if I can give them my card, which has my logo and my website URL.

Sharing with like-minded people is always comforting, and it is a way we can recharge our spiritual batteries and strengthen us to go back into the darkness and shed light there. Our community meetings are for worship (of course), but also for recharging our spirits, learning new discussion and teaching techniques, and getting answers to objections we have faced but couldn’t respond to. Being strengthened to take the Word to the world is a very important part of what the Believing community is for. Our main goal and our main calling is not to be with each other, but to be out there, in the world, in the darkness and amid the unsaved and unsavory, in order to be their light and show them the pathway to salvation.

I will finish with this: if you haven’t really been sharing what you learn in discussion with other Believers with the non-Believers, get off your tuchas and spread the word. Nothing can grow until it has been planted.

Thank you for being here, and please, if you like what I am saying here, subscribe and share my messages. I also welcome your comments and only ask that you be nice.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Parashah Shelach Lecha 2018 (Send out) Numbers 13 – 15

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The people have been travelling in the desert for a little more than 2 years and have come to the border of the Promised Land. Moses, per God’s command, sends out spies to reconnoiter the land; one member from each of the 12 tribes. They come back 40 days later and of the 12 men, only Caleb from the tribe of Judah and Joshua from Ephraim give a favorable report. The other’s announce that they saw fortified cities and the Nephalim there (giants who were traditionally fallen angels) and that they could not possibly conquer those peoples. They spread fear and disappointment among the Israelites to the point where the people wanted to stone Moses. God tells Moses he will destroy these people and make a new nation out of Moses, but Moses intercedes (again, as usual) for the people. God relents what he was thinking of doing and decides to kill the 10 men by plague who started this rebellion, and that everyone over the age of 20 would die in the desert for their part of the rebellion. The people decide to attack anyway, and get their tuchas waxed. The parashah finishes with a man gathering sticks on Shabbat being stoned for his blatant disregard for God’ commandment, and the wearing of ztit-ztit  (fringes hanging on four sides of the garment) so that people will see this on other’s garments and remember to obey God.

Should we discuss the importance of the number 40, here in 40 days of spying and 40 years of wandering? Or maybe we can discuss how could people remain so faithless after 2 years of living with wondrous miracles happening every day (cloud, fire, manna)? The faithfulness of Joshua and Caleb is also something that could have deep meaning for us, in that we need to show faith is still alive even when living among faithless people.

I would like to talk about something that we see in this parashah but isn’t actually part of the story.

It came to me as I was reading about how God said he would make a nation out of Moses. My thought went right to: really? Moses is already in his 80’s, and I know that God can certainly give Moses more children at this age. But to make a nation out of him? It took some 400 years living in one of the most fertile areas of Egypt for the family of Jacob (initially numbering about 63 people) to grow into the nation Moses was leading.  Was God really willing to put everything on hold for another 400 years or so before the people entered the land?

As I was asking myself this question I thought about the idea of predestination. First off, I do not believe in predestination, but I do believe in predetermination. The difference is the former implies we have no choice and there is no real free will, whereas the latter means we have been chosen but we have free will so we can choose to accept or refuse. The “glitch” in predetermination is this: if God has chosen me for something and I refuse to do it, then what?

The answer is what Mordecai said to Hadassah (Esther) when she refused to see the king to intercede for the people (Esther 4:14) :

For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place,{underlining added} but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?

God had predetermined that Hadassah would be the means for him to save his people from the enemy of the Jews, Haman. She had the option to do nothing to help, and some people won’t like hearing this but the fact is that at first that’s exactly what she did. Her message back to Mordicai the first time he asked her to intercede was that the king normally will kill anyone (meaning wife) not called to him. Essentially, she was saying, “No way!” Then Mordecai pretty much threatened her with discovery and death herself, and then she realized she didn’t have much of a choice.

Now, back to the parashah. Moses could have told God “Fine with me- I’ll get busy with Zepporah tonight.” And then the bible we know today would be different, but the end result would be the same.

That’s the point. God promised the land of Israel to the descendants of Abraham. It was predetermined that Moses would lead those descendants into the land. If the ones Moses had with him chose not to enter, so be it. God would raise another nation out of Moses to enter, but one way or another the children of Abraham would have that land.

This is the reason that throughout history God’s promise that Abraham’s seed would be in the land has been dependable.  It doesn’t matter when something God wants to be done gets done, the point is that it WILL get done, sooner or later.

How many people do we read about in the bible who refused to do God’s calling and never changed their minds? No one, you say? You don’t recall anywhere in the bible reading about someone who God had determined to do something wonderful but never accepted the calling? Of course not. I am sure there were many who fit that description, but because they did not accept the call, they never made it into history.

God’s will is insurmountable. His will will be done; if you are called to do it and do so, you will receive wonderful blessings for obedience. If you are called to do it and refuse, you just keep on going as you are and someone else will be raised up to take your place.

This is why it is so important for us to keep our eyes open and our ears cleaned out. When we hear God’s calling on our life we need to be willing to answer with “Whatever you say, Lord.” or we will be missing out. This doesn’t mean a faithful worshiper of God will be refused his or her place in eternity- not accepting the call from God doesn’t necessarily mean you are going to be damned. It just means that the wonderful things that God had planned for you will go to someone else. I don’t know about you, but I would rather take God’s blessings than give them away.

I confess to you that my biggest fear in life is to not hear or ignore God’s calling, if and when I have one. Right now I believe this ministry is what God wants me to do, and I pray for its success (for his glory) and also that I am right when I think this is his calling for me. I really do fear that I may miss the calling God has for me.

Pray that you hear the calling God has for you, and even more so, pray for the strength to accept and fulfill that calling if, and when, you hear it. It’s one thing to hear the phone ringing and another thing altogether to be willing to answer it.

God’s Vineyard is Constantly Being Pruned

Pruning is when a secondary vine that is producing a lot of fruit is removed from the main vine and transplanted. Once transplanted, it becomes the main vine and (hopefully) produces more vines, all producing good fruit.

Sometimes when a vine doesn’t produce any fruit, or the fruit is substandard, it is pruned to allow the other vines to receive more nutrients from the main vine. The pruned vine may be transplanted to another main vine to see if it does better there, and if it doesn’t produce any fruit anymore it will be thrown into the fire and burned (read the parable found at Luke 13:6-8 about the fruit tree in the garden.)

In our lives we will be pruned, one way or the other, and possibly more than once. Sometimes we are cut off from our vine, and sometimes vines are cut off of us. Overall, pruning is not fun: it cause stress, anxiety and sadness. Our “comfort zone” is being reorganized, and no one likes it when that happens.

My congregation at the Hebraic Roots church I have been attending for 3 1/2 years (of which I am also a Council member and Officer) is undergoing pruning as I write this. I just changed the home page of our web site to reflect that there will no longer be any Shabbat services.  The Senior Pastor (and only one able to fill that position) is stepping down to pursue a theological Master’s Degree that his current employer is paying for, and he knows that working a full time job while pursuing an advanced degree will not leave the time he needs to perform his duties as a full time Pastor.  This is a hard decision for him, as he has been with this church for many years, but it is the right decision for him. The church attendance has also been steadily decreasing, tithes are not meeting expenses, and we haven’t met the requirements for being a sovereign church for (at least) 2 years. The Assembly of God Presbyter has been very kind in allowing us to continue as a Hebraic Roots church with Friday night services, but now we need to dissolve this church and return all the assets to the A of G for them to take charge. They have been very patient and helpful, and will  “re-boot” the church sometime in the immediate future, which will be a “standard” Assembly of God church with Sunday services.

We know we are being pruned, but who knows what, or who, is being pruned? Is the Senior Pastor being pruned to be more fruitful elsewhere? Is the incoming Pastor being pruned to be more fruitful here? Is this congregation being pruned because we haven’t been producing any fruit?

I really don’t know. I would like to think that we have been doing well and we are all, individually, being transplanted somewhere else to continue to do God’s calling in our lives. I think this place has done all  it was supposed to do in God’s plan, and as such now is being cut off. This is a hard thing to accept, but it is the most reasonable one given how the congregation has decreased, no new people are coming in, and our mission of training the Christian churches to know the Torah and their true calling in God’s plan of salvation just hasn’t been happening. However, over the 30 or so years this church has been here it has produced many new ministries that are still doing well, including a large Messianic Synagogue. We are a main vine that has been very fruitful over the years, and now I think we are just all used up.

The only vine that never dies and always produces good fruit is Yeshua.

I believe our Pastor will be more fruitful in his new pursuits, that I will be able to concentrate more on this on-line ministry (and with God’s help become more fruitful myself), and that the incoming Pastor will be given a new opportunity to fulfill his mission and calling for God.

When you are pruned, do not take it as a bad sign. You should, however, take a good look in the mirror and ask why this pruning is taking place. Be fair, be honest with yourself, and be hopeful because I believe as long as we have a heart for God and want to do His will, the pruning we go through, no matter how uncomfortable or even painful, will lead to more good fruit being produced. And, if the pruning is because we have failed to produce fruit, then so be it- we deserve to be pruned. It is then we need to repent, redirect ourselves to producing fruit, and if we do that God will transplant us. Maybe He is cutting us off from a comfort zone we don’t realize is not feeding us, and wants us to be grafted onto a more nutritious vine? You never know, so always try to be fruitful.

Pruning is not fun, it is not enjoyable, and it is most often not desired, but it is a necessary part of meeting God’s calling in our life.

There’s no such thing as “waiting in God’s will”

The great American humorist, Will Rogers, is known to have said:

Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.

The same is true when doing God’s will. God’s timing is perfect- no one ever really argues that point, but yet how many times do we hear someone (maybe even ourselves?) saying something to the effect of, “Well, I am pretty sure that is what God wants me to do but I am waiting for Him to tell me when to do it.”

Yeshua said that we know how to tell the signs of the weather but we don’t know how to read the signs of the times (Matthew 16:3).

When God gives you a calling, it isn’t for you to consider or to think about. It is a calling, it’s a thing to do, it is an action not a notification. If you are waiting for a sign when it should be done, you’ve already missed it: God doesn’t tell us to do something later.

When He told Abraham to leave Ur, it wasn’t for a later date. When He told Moses to go to Egypt, it wasn’t something for him do after the holidays. When God told Joshua to attack Jericho, he wasn’t supposed to send invitations. When God told Jeremiah to buy the field, He meant now.

The only thing that God delays is His judgement, and we should be very thankful for that delay. Unfortunately, it hasn’t really proven to make a difference. Shomron and Judea both had plenty of time to get their act together, but eventually all that extra time God gave them didn’t help.

The parashah this past Shabbat and for the next two Shabbatot covers the plagues upon Egypt. Last Shabbat Moses received his calling, and (as you probably know) he wasn’t too anxious to do it. He hemmed and hawed, and nearly got himself killed by God on the way to Egypt with his delaying. Moses certainly is an example of hearing God’s call and not heeding it right away. But, he did go, and although he had a slow and stumbling start, he continued to listen to God. And as he did more and more of what God directed him to do, he got stronger in his spirit and more confident in his ability to accomplish God’s plan. By the time Moses had been leading the people for years, he was strong in spirit, confident in his actions, and able to lead a multitude of people through a desert. Imagine: only a few years earlier he told God he wasn’t the man for the job. Guess God was right, after all. Duh!

Our God is a god of action, not a god of sitting around and waiting. As the title says, there is no such thing as waiting in God’s will- it is walking in God’s will; it is being in God’s will; we are to be acting in God’s will.  We are to be, to act, to walk, to serve…all of these are action verbs. We are not to be idle, or waiting, or planning, and we are certainly not supposed to be waiting for a sign when we hear God telling us what to do.

When God tells us to do something, He means NOW! The “sign” that God is ready to help us is that He has told us what to do. When God is ready to use us as His vessel, He will let us know what His will is. That’s when we do it. Not later, not when it is a better time (there’s no time like the present, right?) and not when we feel “ready” in our own timing.

I believe, and I will speak for myself here, that I am never going to be ready to do God’s will when I hear Him call me. I am just that confident in my own inability. But that’s OK. In fact, that is what it should be. Moses wasn’t ready, but he was divinely enabled when did as God directed. God’s the quarterback, God’s the pilot, God’s controlling what happens so we don’t need to ask for the fleece to be wet or dry, we just need to do what God tells us to do when we hear Him tell us to do it.

No one is ever really “ready” to do God’s will: are you? You may be willing to do it, you may want to do it, but are you ready? That would imply that you are already filled with all the spirit, the Ruach, that you need. When I read the bible, it seems to me that every disciple of God, from Abraham all the way to the 12 Talmudim of Yeshua, gained their spiritual strength after they started to do what God called them to do. Abraham lied about Sarah to protect his life- not very trusting of God, is it? And he did it twice! And so did Isaac. Jacob sent gifts to appease Esau. Moses needed Aaron to go with him. Gideon threw the fleece before the Lord. Saul hid when called to be anointed as king (Saul’s a good example of what happens when you constantly refuse to follow God’s calling), Elijah hid from Isabel and asked God to kill him, Jonah…well, we all know about Jonah. Kefa (Peter) walked on the water but immediately lost faith, Judas betrayed Yeshua, Shaul (Paul) had to get knocked off his “high horse” to see the truth.

All these biblical characters, all of which did great things when walking in God’s will, still all had to be discipled by God, they had to be taught to draw on His Ruach HaKodesh, they had to “learn the ropes”, so to speak, and none of that started until they began to walk in God’s will and do as He commanded them.

We will never be ready to do God’s calling in our life. God knows that, and I don’t really think He even wants us to be “ready” because He will teach us all we need to know. What God expects is that we are willing to go when called. And don’t worry about what to say (Luke 12:11), don’t worry about what to eat or wear or about where you will sleep (Psalm 37:25) and don’t worry about your safety (Psalm 118:6).

My biggest fear in my spiritual life is that I will hear God’s calling for me, clearly and undeniably, and I will fail to move. I will create excuses, as I already have in many ways, and I am most afraid that I may miss doing as He called me to do because I was waiting to be ready.

Do you remember reading in the bible about those people whom God called to do wondrous works in His name but didn’t? That’s right- there aren’t any. That’s the point!

God has a plan for all of us- listen for it, be willing to follow God’s lead, and don’t ever expect to be ready to do what He calls you to do. That’s what walking in faith is all about- we can’t see where we’re going, we don’t know what is waiting for us, and we know there isn’t anything we can do to control what is going to happen. But because God is calling us and leading us, we faithfully know that whatever is going to happen will be controlled by God.

As it says in Romans 8:31…if God is for us, who can be against us?


Parashah Lech Lecha (Go Forth) Genesis 12-17

This parashah starts with these words:

The Lord said to Abram, Go forth from your native land and from your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 I will make of you a great nation, And I will bless you; I will make your name great, And you shall be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you And curse him that curses you; And all the families of the earth Shall bless themselves by you.”

What should we do when we receive a calling from God?  The answer is: do what you are told to do.

Abram (he isn’t Abraham yet: Abram means “Noble Father” but it isn’t until he is to fulfill his side of the covenant through circumcision that God says his name is to be Abraham, meaning Father of Nations) is to leave all that he has known, his family, his friends, everything that is of the Chaldees where he has lived. This is so that he will not be contaminated by their pagan worship, and the household he is to train up to be God fearing is also not to be influenced or contaminated by the unclean pagan worship and lifestyle.

The calling from God was more than just that God will make Abraham a blessing to the world. There was the need for Abraham to obey the calling so that this promise could be fulfilled. If Abraham had remained in Ur, if he had not gone to the land God called him to go to, then he would not have ever become the blessing that God intended to make of him.

But it’s not useful to be a hermit. It may be true that the only way to be completely free of wrongful influences is to hide away on some deserted island or make a home in the North Atlantic woodlands, which is especially hard in today’s technological world where everyone is only an email or a FaceBook post away. In Abraham’s day all he had to do is walk far enough away from everyone else, but that would have prevented him from fulfilling the rest of his calling.

By becoming a hermit we can stay “pure”, but that purity is useless because it brings no glory to God and doesn’t do God’s work in the world. Yeshua tells us in Matthew 5:15 that no one lights a lamp then puts it under a basket; they light the lamp and place it high up where the light can be seen by all. Abraham’s calling was to be a light to the world, and through him, i.e., through his example of worship, his lifestyle and his actions, the world would be able to see how he is blessed by God. Then they would be influenced by his goodness. As they learned to live as Abraham lived, then they would, as a consequence of following Abraham’s example, also be blessed by God.

We must follow the calling we receive. You may not have heard it yet, or you may have heard it but you’re waiting for the right time. Well, if you are waiting for God to tell you it’s time for you to fulfill your calling, you have already missed it. God is not a god of “Let’s think about this”; God is the god of “Get it done!”, and that means now. When you receive a calling from God He is telling you He wants you do to something. If you stall or wait too long, His plan will go forth, without you. If you do not do as God says to do when He says to do it, you will miss out on what He had in store for you.

God’s plan of salvation is like a large ship going from creation to creation. As the ship travels, with God at the helm, people can get on for free, and they also can get off. That’s called Free Will. And there will  be many doing just that- many getting on, many getting off, and most just waving as it goes by. But the ship will continue to sail, and it will reach it’s destination. If you want to get on, it’s free. You have to work, though- it’s a free entry but it’s not a free ride.

Abraham did as God told him to do, without hesitation. We usually think of Genesis 15:6 when we think of Abraham’s righteousness, but I would venture to say that the true demonstration of Abraham’s’ righteousness and faith is the fact that he didn’t just do as God said to do, he did it then and there. He left his home right away, he went without knowing where he was being led, he circumcised everyone (including himself) the very day he was commanded to do so, and even when he was told to sacrifice Yitzchak, his only son, the son of the promise, he left early the next morning to do so. No hesitation, no questioning, no discussion. God said do, and he did.

I don’t know about you, but I haven’t heard too many callings in my life. I believe writing my book was a calling, but even though I wrote it and have tried to push it out (see the links at the bottom right of this web page), I really think I should have done more long ago, and even though I know I should do more now, I hesitate. I have invested a few grand in this, and need to invest more. I know that God will honor what I do, and if this book is giving God the glory I think it does, He will get it out there.

But I still need to do my part. I had a calling to give a testimony (the link to it is at the bottom of my bio) and I hesitated on that, too. I was a new Believer, but it seems I still have a lot to learn about faithful obedience. We all do, don’t we?

Praise God that He is not just patient, but compassionately understanding. I feel ashamed to confess to you that I have these hesitations, but I am not here to tell you about God because I am an expert at following Him- I am here to show you that even someone as useless as I am can still do God’s work in the world and honor Him. Even though I, myself, am weak. Just as Shaul said of himself in 2 Corinthians 12:9, God’s strength is made manifest in our weakness.

But you don’t have to be weak- you can be stronger than me, stronger even that Shaul. You can obey the calling God has for you ASAP. If you don’t know what that calling is, or He hasn’t revealed what He wants you to do for Him yet, then wait for it. It is coming, and you can prepare for it by studying His word, separating yourself from those influences of the world that would contaminate you, and listening. Remember that God was not in the fire or the shaking mountain or the fierce wind, but He was just a still, quiet voice (1 Kings, 9:12.) To hear the majestic voice of God, we need to listen quietly and faithfully.

Faith isn’t just believing, it is also doing. Abraham showed tremendous faith in doing as he was told to do, and doing it as soon as he heard the command. God grant us all that we may demonstrate that same level of faithfulness.