Why Faith is so Hard

Faith is, as we are told in Hebrews 11:1, something that is unseen and unproven.

Faith is a choice; it is a conscious decision to believe in something.

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Many people can prove that their belief is valid by simply showing it to be true with a scientific proof; for example, we all believe in gravity, and we can validate our belief by dropping something.

But what about belief in God? What about believing that Yeshua (Jesus) not only was a real person who really existed, but that he is the Messiah?

We can prove his existence because it is verified in the works of Josephus, but that doesn’t prove he is the Messiah.

We can say his miracles, which were verified by eyewitnesses and documented in (at least) four different books of the Bible, prove he was the Messiah. But that really doesn’t prove anything, because (for starters) we can’t prove the Bible is completely accurate. Oh, yes, there is plenty of archaeological evidence to show that the stories and references to many biblical characters is accurate, but that doesn’t mean Yeshua did what Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John say he did. And with regard to the messianic prophecies, well, the Apostles did the same miracles that Yeshua did, so that kind of kills the argument that Yeshua’s miracles prove he was the one and only Messiah.

When it comes to faith in God, the Messiah, and what is written in the Bible, we need to choose to believe. In truth, if we could scientifically prove the existence of God that would be the antithesis of faith, because absolute proof of something does away with the need to choose to believe in it.

It is because we have to choose to have faith that it becomes very difficult to share that faith with the “real” world, which always wants to be told why something is and to be shown that it really is what they were just told it is. The world is just like people from Missouri, which is known as the “Show me” state.

The world says, “If I can’t touch, hear, see or smell it, it ain’t there!” But those of us with faith say, “I believe, anyway.”

Abraham knew that he and Sarah were way too old to have any children, but when God said he would have a son, he chose to believe him. When Jonah was told to go to Nineveh, he believed that God would forgive them if they repented, which he didn’t want to happen so he ran away.

On the other hand, there were some heroes of the Bible that did not believe; at least, not right away.

As Jacob was going to Laban, God promised to bring him back to his home and give his descendants the land, but Jacob didn’t believe him completely, so he made a pact, saying that if God did provide for him and keep him safe, then Jacob would worship God (Genesis 28:20.) And Gideon was so doubtful that he asked God to prove it was really him (Judges 6:33-40), from which we get the phrase, “Throwing the fleece before the Lord.”

Having faith is hard because it is basic human nature to want to believe only that which we can prove, and what is harder than having faith is keeping it in light of everyone else calling you ignorant or foolish for believing.

I am absolutely convinced that God exists and that Yeshua is the Messiah God promised to send. Why? At first, it was because I chose to believe it, but over the past 20-plus years, there have been events in my life that have been so wonderful and unexpected that I cannot put it down to coincidence. I have had prayers answered, with exactly what I prayed for, which in the “provable” world couldn’t have happened. But what is important to note is that I do not believe because the miracles happened- the miracles happened because I believed!

If someone has a miraculous event in their life which causes them to believe in God, for me, that is a concern. Why? Because Satan can create miracles, too, and if I believe simply because of a miraculous event, then my faith is founded in something other than my choice. It is founded upon a physical event, which can be created by Satan, and in many cases easily faked by a human.

Miracles can help to reinforce our belief, but I feel absolutely certain that our belief in God, the faith we hold in him and his Messiah, must be founded on our decision to believe and not on some physical event in our life.

Once we have chosen to believe in something, we must acknowledge that there is a fine line between faithfully believing and just being stubborn and unwilling to listen. I can’t tell you how to know the difference, so case-by-case, time-by-time we all need to hold true to our faith, yet be open to hearing other people’s beliefs.

That’s another reason why faith is so hard- because it is a choice, we are always able to change our minds, or be influenced to do so. I suppose the best advice I can give is to make a thorough knowledge of the Bible the foundation for your belief, and constantly pray that God will validate your trust. Not in the way Gideon did, by testing the Lord (which the Bible says we shouldn’t) but as a, well…let’s call it a confirmation of choosing to be on the right side.

Faith is a choice, a decision that each of us will make whether we know it or not. No decision is still a decision, and it is a double-edged sword because we can choose to believe or reject, but no matter why we choose, or who led us to that choice, we are, each and every one of us, ultimately going to be accountable to God for that choice.

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

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

We’re Either Trusting or We’re Fearful

I am not going to quote verses from the Bible about how important it is for us to trust God. That would take up more time to go through than anyone reading this or watching the video would want to spend.

But what I will do is remind everyone of the last line of Kohelet (Ecclesiastes), which says that fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

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Now, when we use the term “fear of the Lord” it doesn’t mean to be afraid of him, but to honor and worship him. And with proper worship of God comes trust and faith in him: trust that he is in charge and faith that he will care for you so long as you honor and worship him. For the past five millennia, he has proven we can depend on him.

So why is there so much fear in the world? For example, for the past 5 months, people have been frightened to death over a virus that is deadly to a very minuscule percent of the entire population. People are polarized over politics, much more so than usual, and people are afraid to say anything that represents a godly or worshipful attitude for fear of insulting someone else. It isn’t just your opinion is wrong, it has degraded to the point where now if your opinion is different from mine, you don’t have a right to it!

I believe this general feeling of fearfulness is because we have, as a nation, stopped fearing the Lord. With the loss of that fear, we have also lost wisdom, which is why people wear facemasks while alone in their car, why corporations are jumping on the fear bandwagon because they don’t want to appear to be unconcerned. It is like the story of the Emperor’s new clothes, except instead of the Emperor being naked, the little boy points out that the Emperor’s mask is not doing anything.

God has been kicked out of our schools and our courts, and even in our government, which was formed specifically in order to allow us the freedom to worship as we want to.

Fear of the Lord is gone, and we all know the adage “Nature hates a vacuum”, so when fear of the Lord, meaning to trust and have faith in him, is gone, that space is filled with fear, meaning to be afraid, of everything.

People are too fearful, and that fear grows within us. When we add the lack of control and sense of helplessness that is generated by the media reports, designed to infuriate and upset people, we become violent. The racism-based riots we have been suffering with recently, none of which are new or different from the ones in the 1960s, aren’t so much a result of the unfortunate killing of a man, but more so from being the “straw that broke the camel’s back”, i.e. there is so much repressed anger and fear from the pandemic, or I should say media coverage and leadership squabbling over the pandemic, that the white police action causing the death of a black man just caused it all to come out.

That is my opinion, of course, and you don’t have to agree with it, but there is so much repressed anger and a general fearfulness in this country that the people are a powder keg just waiting for a spark to set them off.

We need to remember that God is in charge, and even when bad things are happening, it doesn’t mean he isn’t in charge. It usually means that he is watching and waiting for the right moment to intervene. History shows that often, in truth almost always, it takes a terrible catastrophe to occur before people begin to see they are truly powerless and the only power they can rely on is God’s power to save.

That is the difference between being fearful and being fearless- we are always powerless and when you don’t have God watching your back, that powerlessness is frightening. But, when you know God is on your side, you don’t have to trust in your own power because in our weakness, his strength is made manifest (I can’t take credit for that statement- it was said by that nice, Jewish tentmaker from Tarsus.)

So when you see someone afraid of the pandemic, or the riots, or anything, ask them why they don’t trust in God to watch over them. I’ll bet the most fearful people are the least faithful ones, and the least fearful people are the most faithful.

The way to overcome fear is not trusting in your own strength and trusting in God. He WILL take care of you- you only need to ask him.

Even in the valley of the shadow of death, he is there to protect and care for you.

Thank you for being here and please subscribe and share this ministry with others.  I welcome your comments and want to remind you, again, that you will find comfort through believing God is always watching out for you.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Parashah B’midbar 2020 (In the desert) Numbers 1 – 4:20

At the beginning of this book of the Torah, we have Moses, at God’s command (which is the only right time to do this) take a census of the people. We also are given the arrangement of the campsite, as well as the duties of the Levites, with regards to moving the Sanctuary.

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The book of Numbers is a historical narration of the travels of the children of Israel as they wandered in the desert. The wandering was the result of their own sin, which was to reject the land that God brought them to, as he promised he would. They were at the border of Israel only a few months after they left Egypt, but after sending the spies into the land and receiving a bad report, they refused to go in. They were afraid that they would be destroyed by the Canaanites and other tribes that the spies reported as fearsome and powerful.

How quickly they forgot the miraculous events that God performed in Egypt; how quickly they forgot how God split the Red Sea; and how quickly they forgot the way God presented the Torah to them on Mount Sinai.

And isn’t it the same with people, today?

I was in Sales for a long time and I was very good at it. Yet, despite how good a salesman I was, I was never better than what I did yesterday. The standard joke we told each other was: “You’ve been the best salesman in the company for three months now, but what have you done for me today?”

We are in the midst of a world-wide pandemic, causing fear, which has led to the demoralization of the people and is crippling our economy, yet it is nothing compared to the past crises we have had to undergo. But does anyone remember those? Does anyone remember how this country has overcome wars and economic disasters? How did we do that? It was because we had the courage and faith in God to continue through the problems, instead of fearfully sitting on our butts and crying about it!

Does anyone remember that this country, America, was founded on faith in God, which is the real reason we were able to survive those calamities?

Apparently not.

As we go through this book of Numbers we will see how, over and over, God rescued his people when they turned to him and walked in faith towards the goal, the Promised Land. The generation which refused it caused all the people to wander aimlessly until that fearful generation were all gone. It took a new generation, a generation that did not have a slave mentality, a generation that was raised in the desert and didn’t know about living in a house or having everything you needed available to you, a generation that recognized God and accepted his help, THAT generation was the one that entered into the Promised Land and took possession of it.

And when we get to the book of Judges, we will see how they, too, forgot all about God and what he had done for them.

This country is populated now by people who have rejected God, who worship technology and sports and believe only in self-acceptance. They are all about themselves and that is why, after two months of this pandemic, you still can’t find toilet paper on the grocery shelves. Their fear is well-founded because they are depending on their individual ability to overcome problems instead of on God’s ability to protect them.

I am not saying that people should not take precautions when there is a chance of infection or infecting others, but to run and hide in the closet while you wait for someone else to fix things is not what faith is about. Take precautions, wear a facemask if you feel better doing that, and keep away from sick people.

(Do you believe that they have to tell us to do that? Do they think people are that stupid? And what is worse is that they may be right!)

The real problem we have is what President Roosevelt mentioned in his famous speech, which is a statement you most likely have heard used:

We have nothing to fear, but fear itself. 

This country is crippled by fear, by their lack of faith in God, and we are all suffering for it. The shoe has dropped, and I believe the other shoe will drop soon; and when it does, those problems will be so much worse than what we are going through now that this country may not survive it.

The time for the judgment of the nations is now, and America has separated itself from God and joined the world, so we will be judged with the rest of the world. This pandemic is just the start, you mark my words: the next plague will really be deadly, and not just to a small portion of the population.

Learn the lessons we are given in the book of Numbers, see how repentance saved the Israelites while their fear caused them to reject God and suffer. America is doomed, but there will always be a remnant that will survive, so please make sure you are a member of that remnant.

Thank you for being here and please subscribe and share these messages with others, while there is still time. I welcome your comments and wish you all God’s peace which you will receive when you seek him out.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Shabbat Shalom!

Parashot Veyakhel / Pekudey 2020 (He assembled / Accounts) Exodus 35 – 40

Because we are in a Leap Year, in order to have the annual reading cycle of the Torah comply with the Gregorian calendar, there are some Shabbat readings where we will read two parashah instead of one. This Shabbat is one of those times, and it also takes us to the end of Sefer Sh’mot, the Book of Exodus.

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In these last chapters, we are told of the generosity of the people in giving all the materials needed for constructing the Tabernacle; in fact, Moses had to order them to stop bringing materials because they had contributed too much.  We are told how the construction and materials were made, and these chapters are almost a word-for-word repetition of the instructions God gave Moses earlier. The style of the last chapters of Exodus regarding the Tabernacle is like reading “Here is what you are to do”, in minute detail, then we read “This is what they did”, in minute detail, ending with “And this is what was done”, in minute detail.

The last chapters tell us that Moses blesses the people for their work (which is likely when he wrote Psalm 90), which they did exactly as God commanded, and we end this book with God’s presence filling the Tabernacle.

And we end this book of the Torah with the statement we use at the end of each book:

Chazak! Chazak! V’nit Chazek!
(Be strong! Be strong! And let us be strengthened)

Regarding the building of the Tabernacle, we are given so many minute details of every aspect of this task. We are told how many loops, how many posts and bearings, what is made of which material, how many pomegranates, the dimensions of each section of the tent, and the weights of the materials used.

Would you like to know why there is so much detail regarding the building of the Tabernacle?

So would I. And you know what else? I don’t think we will ever know.

The same sort of minute detailing is given when Ezekiel measured the Temple, which we can read about in Ezekiel 40-43. It seems that there must be some reason, and maybe that reason is simply so that when we do rebuild the Temple, we will already know what we need to have and how to do it.

Who knows? Let’s move on…

What I found interesting in these readings is that Moses did not ask for God’s guidance or pray for success when they started to build the Tabernacle, and he did not bless the people for their work until after the entire task was completed correctly. I have always thought that when we start a project or begin a task, we should ask God for guidance and bless the people performing the task.

But the Chumash explains Moses held back his blessing until after the project was completed because it is an easy thing to start something difficult, but very hard and rare to complete it exactly as it was supposed to be done.

My take on this is that a blessing is not given but earned.

That also jibes with what we read in the Bible, as God’s blessings were given after something was done and not before.  We should ask for God’s guidance and help, but a blessing is not to be given until the task is completed.

The same holds true with obedience. God has many blessings, so many that if you put them into a bottomless pit they would spill out over the top, but we will not receive even one blessing if we do not do something worthy of one.

Yes, there are times when God will bless someone even though they don’t deserve one, and we know that he rains on the just and the unjust, alike, so there will be times a blessing is given that has not been earned, but that is God’s choice to do. After all, these are his blessings to give, and if he wants to give one for no reason that we can discern, then he can give it. And really…  who in their right mind would ever refuse a blessing?

The lesson for us from all this is that when we do as God says we should, we will receive a blessing. We will not get anything for not doing anything, and that means when you have a need and ask God to help you, he is willing and able to help but he will not do it for you.
Too many people sit around complaining about their life and asking for prayer from others. Yet, when they are given advice on how to get out of their slump or how to meet their needs, they always seem to have some excuse why that won’t work. Or they will say they have tied it and it didn’t work. I often wonder when someone says nothing works if they really tried hard enough to make it work. How many times have you tried to open a jar and found it too hard, but then you get angry at the jar and you can open it? Is it the anger, the adrenaline, or just simply that you finally put the effort needed into the task?

When you are in a slump or have a need, it is right and a good idea to ask God for help, but he won’t do anything until you walk in faith (as Abraham did) by getting off your kvetching tuchas and do what you would do as if you already had what you asked for. Yeshua tells us this is what we should do in Mark 11:24 when he said:

Therefore, I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, trust that you are receiving it, and it will be yours.

Figure out what you want, determine how to get it, ask God for help and then get started. Don’t wait for the answer and don’t wait for a sign, for no sign shall be given. Just walk in faith trusting that what you asked for will be given to you. But keep your eyes open and your ears clear so that you can see where God leads you once you start walking; you never know, you may start in the wrong direction and God will have to redirect you.

God’s blessings are here for the asking, but they are not given until the work is done.

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I welcome your comments and until next time, L’hitraot and Shabbat Shalom.

Changed My Mind

I just spent about an hour writing a message about fear and how it can be used to control us.

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When I couldn’t think of how to conclude the message I realized that I couldn’t stop writing because all I was doing was rambling on and on and on.

So here I am starting over, and trying to stay on topic, which is about the fear currently controlling the world, a fear which I haven’t seen this bad since McCarthyism, the A-Bomb Scare, or Legionnaire’s Disease.

(OK, I wasn’t old enough to go through the McCarthy era, but I certainly remember the others.)

I’m not going to discuss my feelings about the coronavirus phobia, which is what happened in my first draft and why I had to delete it, but will simply state that fear will abide and grow where there is no faith in God.

What I think is really terrible (maybe you agree?) is that now even houses of worship are closing their doors to their own congregants!

When there is a worldwide panic, as we are seeing today, the one place you would expect people to go is to their house of worship, where they can collectively pray for God’s help and protection. Yet, what are these houses of God doing?

They are shutting the people out!

Now, you tell me…is this something that serves God or helps the Devil?

Ah, now you see where I am going with this message: worldwide fear is a tool of the enemy of God, and the more we allow it to propagate, the more people will be controlled by Satan.

That may sound a bit far-fetched, but I do not believe so. Satan will not walk up to you and say, “Yo! Satan’s the name, and eternal damnation is my game. Ya wanna play?”

No, that won’t be the way he does it. What Satan will do is generate distrust and fear among the people, then present himself as a savior, overcoming the problem that caused the fear.

As an example, let’s use the current phobia over coronavirus: maybe someone will come up with a cure and in order to receive it free, you have to qualify, and when you do you will receive a chip in your hand you can use at a clinic to receive the shot.

Or maybe it will be a financial crisis, or maybe it will be some other world-shattering event. No one can know for sure what it will be, but I am certain that this is the process he will use.

So stop being afraid of the virus; after all, the medical fact is that it isn’t very deadly, and almost 99% of the people infected recover within a few days, I’ll bet many have already had it and thought it was just the flu. But do be aware of the effect that this event is having on the world’s population, which has already reached the point where countries are shutting themselves off from the world.

Do you remember what Yeshua said when he was accused of working for Satan? He said a house divided against itself cannot stand, and what do we see in the world today? Countries separating themselves from the world, events banning people from attending, schools closing and churches and synagogues refusing to open their doors.

We are being torn apart from the inside, and if you don’t think that is something that Satan can use to gain power, then you are blind.

Wash your hands and cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze. Really- we should all do that anyway. Didn’t your Mommy teach you that when you were a child? And shake hands with people, hug them and go through life as you always have, just be more aware of touching your face or wiping your nose. Keep one of those hand sanitizing spray bottles in your pocket- that’s fine. Being concerned and careful is not wrong, but being frightened to the point where you shut yourself off from others is wrong.

One last point…remember that Yeshua said whenever two or three are gathered in his name, there he will be; that can’t happen if no one is getting together with anyone else.

Thank you for being here, and please subscribe. Whether you agree or disagree with what I write, I welcome your comments.

Until next time, don’t be afraid, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

 

Those With Faith Have No Fear and Those With Fear Have No Faith

Do you think that fear is the lack of courage or is courage the lack of fear? I have always heard, and agree, that courage is when we overcome our fear.

Fear is an instinct, it is designed to help us survive, but when we let our fear rule us that is when we have lost ourselves to the enemy.

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The enemy of God uses fear: fear of loss is the strongest of all fears, but there is also fear of pain, fear of death, fear of loneliness, fear of success, and there is even fear of being afraid. When your fears are controlling you, they are called phobias.

Courage is how we overcome the basic and instinctive fears that we have. There are different ways that people can find courage, and I believe the best way is through faith in God.

Humans want to be in control of themselves and what happens in their life, and I think when people don’t believe in God or believe he exists but they don’t think it is important to follow his instructions, they believe that way because they don’t want to cede control to him. They fear losing control and that fear is why they have no faith.

I also know people who say they believe in God and are faithful but go through life afraid of everything. They won’t drive on the highway, they won’t take a plane ride, and they won’t try to improve their condition or even try to do something different. These people are afraid of living.

And yet, they believe they are in control. Oy!

The Bible is rife with verses that should encourage us, meaning to literally put courage into us. Verses such as these:

Psalm 32:8I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.

Romans 8:31…What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

Joshua 1:9…Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.

Psalm 23:4…Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

Psalm 27:1…The LORD is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid?

And this is just a small sampling.

To place our faith in God means, more than anything else, to accept his sovereignty and to trust him to always take care of us. That doesn’t mean we will never have tsouris in our lives: we need to have trials and tribulations because gold is only made pure after going through the fire. We can be anxious and even afraid of the suffering, but we must not be ruled by that fear. Again, fear is normal and we cannot help but feel it. That doesn’t mean we should be afraid of the fear or allow it to rule us: we gain the courage to overcome and control our fear through our through faith in God, knowing that even as we suffer he is working towards reducing or relieving that suffering.

Suffering, loss, and emotional trauma can, and often does, overwhelm people; we can find the strength to survive from our steadfast knowledge and faith in God, believing absolutely that he is always there to prevent our destruction.

Faith is not something that God will give us, and the kind of faith that comes from some miraculous event is fleeting, and (I believe) dangerous because a faith that is the result of a miracle is a faith that could be turned to Satan, who is capable of performing miracles. In fact, aren’t we told in Revelation that the prophets of Satan will perform many miracles and that many will be turned from the true faith?

Faith is a choice; it is a conscious decision to believe. It isn’t something we can see or feel (Hebrews 11:1), and our faith is strengthened when we follow the instructions God gave us in the Torah (James 2:14.)

When we choose to cede control of our lives to God and faithfully trust God to always take care of us, no matter what, we can be confident and encouraged because, well… who can beat up God?

(I just thought about something: when I said to “faithfully trust”, that’s actually redundant, isn’t it?)

Too many people today put their faith in technology or in someone in politics, or even in a sports figure or a newspaper. They trust quickly in what they hear and what they see, not thinking for a moment how easily those senses can be fooled.

Trust in God, choose to believe in what you will (probably) never see in this lifetime, and stick to that faith no matter what anyone else tells you. When you trust in God and demonstrate that trust through following his instructions, you will be given confirmation that your faith is well-founded.

Thank you for being here and please subscribe and share these messages with others. Check out the books I have written (available on Amazon or through my website) as well as some of the videos in my Picture Album of my vacations and other events in my life.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Parashah Vayyashev 2019 (And he dwelt) Genesis 37 – 40

The rest of Genesis is about Joseph. We all know the story: he is hated by his brothers because he is the favorite of his father. Not to mention he is also a bit of a snitch, having once given a bad report to his father regarding his brothers. We can add that sharing his dreams with his brothers also didn’t help the situation since the dreams indicated they would all bow down to him.

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When given the chance, the brothers were going to kill him, but instead decided to sell him to a caravan of Yishmaelim However, before they could do that, some other Arabs found him in the cistern the brothers dumped him into, and they sold him. He ended up as the slave to Potiphar, one of the military generals of the Pharaoh. Meanwhile, the brothers dipped his coat of many colors into some blood and presented it to Jacob to make him believe Joseph was killed by a wild animal.

The Bible tells us that God was with Joseph, which is why everything he did was successful. I think it would be more accurate to say that Joseph was with God. In any event, Joseph is promoted to the position of trustee for Potiphar’s entire household and finances. But, trouble brews when Potipher’s wife gets the hots for Joseph and constantly demands he sleep with her.  Because Joseph was too righteous to sleep with her, she got revenge by accusing him of attempted rape. It is likely that because Potiphar liked Joseph that instead of having him killed, which would have been the standard punishment, he simply placed him in jail.

Even in jail, falsely accused and wrongfully punished, Joseph maintained his faith and was appointed a trustee. When two of the officers of Pharaoh in jail with him had dreams, he interpreted their dreams. The interpretations came true, with the Baker being hanged and the Cupbearer restored to his prior position. However, although the Cupbearer had promised Joseph to tell Pharoah about him, once restored to his position he forgot all about Joseph.

This is where this Parashah ends, and we learn later that two years pass before the Cupbearer remembers Joseph.

Here we have a righteous and trustworthy man, Joseph, who did nothing wrong yet was attacked by his own brothers, sold into slavery, wrongly accused of a crime that he didn’t commit, and all because he did what he knew to be right.  He never lost his faith in God, which was evident when Joseph told the Baker and the Cupbearer that God is the one who can interpret dreams.

I see a lesson here for all of us: when tsouris (Yiddish for troubles) comes into our life, and we know we have done nothing wrong, we have to maintain our faith in God that these trials are temporary and will lead to something better. So long as we do what is right in God’s eyes, even when the world is against us, we can survive and come out on top.

Because 1 John 4:4 says

 ...he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

and Romans 8:28 tells us

Furthermore, we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called in accordance with his purpose;

we can be assured that when we are having troubles and going through a bad time, God is still there, he is aware of what is happening, and he has a plan for us.

There are so many verses in the Bible, as well as stories like this one, that confirm God is always aware of what is happening in our life. We need to trust that God is in charge and even when he allows bad things to happen, we probably won’t understand why they happened until God’s plan comes to fruition.

In Joseph’s case, the sale into slavery placed him in Egypt, and the false accusation put him where he could, eventually, find his way to the Pharaoh, which resulted in the entire family of Jacob being saved from starvation. Not to mention most of the population of Egypt and the surrounding countries. Joseph came to understand this later and in Genesis 45 he tells his brothers that it wasn’t really them who put him where he was, but God, in order to save them all.

Job is another good example of bad things happening to a good person, and he also learned that God does what God does for God’s own reasons. Kohelet, the author of Ecclesiastes, learned this lesson the hard way, spending years seeking to understand why things are as they are, realizing that the effort was as useless as chasing the wind. His conclusion was to simply enjoy that which God gives you.

Too often I hear people who are going through some sort of tribulation blame it on a Satanic attack, which it could be, or they blame God, saying he is punishing them for something they did wrong. God does punish those who do wrong, especially the ones who are unrepentant, but for the most part, I believe that when we are trying to walk in the path of righteousness we will have troubles, but God will always be there to help us back on our feet.

It isn’t for nothing Yeshua told his Talmudim that anyone who wants to follow him (in other words, live a godly life) will have to carry their own execution stake.

Here’s what we need to take home from today’s message: when something bad happens to you, don’t blame God. And don’t blame Satan. In fact, don’t look to blame anyone, but instead look to the future because if you maintain your faith in God, the Bible proves that God will bring you out of this desert of tsouris you are in and place you in a garden of everlasting joy. It may not be right away, it may not even happen in your lifetime, but when we maintain our faith in God and do what is right in his eyes, we will spend eternity joyfully in his presence.

Thank you for being here; please remember to subscribe and I welcome your comments. It’s always nice to know someone takes the time to let me know what they think of my message. Even if you disagree with me.

Until next time, Shabbat shalom and Baruch HaShem!

Parashah Chayei Sarah 2019 (Life of Sarah) Genesis 23 – 25:18

Sarah dies and Abraham buys a field that also has a sepulcher so that he can bury her.  He then has his most trusted servant, Eliezer, go back to the land from which Abraham came, to his own people in order to get a wife for Isaac. Under no conditions, though, is Eliezer ever to bring Isaac back to Ur.

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Eliezer stops at a well, which would be the place all the women would eventually come to and asks God for a specific sign that would identify the woman God wants to be Isaac’s wife. Rebekah, the granddaughter of Abraham’s brother Nachor, does exactly what Eliezer asked God to have the woman he chose to do, and immediately gives her gifts. When she returns to her tent, her brother, Laban sees the gifts and goes back to the well to bring Eliezer into their tent.

Time out.

Laban is motivated to be hospitable only because of the gifts Rebekah received. We can here see, for the first time, Laban’s true nature. Later in this book, we will see more of his greed and treachery in the way he treats Jacob.

Time in.

Eliezer is invited to eat but refuses to do so until he is able to secure their permission to bring Rebekah back to Isaac to be his wife. Rebekah agrees to go, and Laban, who seems to be speaking in the place of the father as leader of the family, also agrees to let her go (of course he would, given how rich Abraham is) and they leave the next day to return to Abraham. Isaac sees Rebekah on their way back, takes her into his mother’s tent and their marriage is consummated.

The parashah ends with the death of Abraham.

I could go on forever about this section of the Torah, the story of the first Patriarch of Judaism. There are many lessons for us here, but what struck me as I was reading was the prayer of Eliezer to have God give him a sign. It made me think about when Yeshua told Satan, quoting from the Tanakh (of course), that we are not to test the Lord, our God. I thought to myself, “Is it proper to ask God to provide a sign? Isn’t that the same thing as testing him?”

I believe there is a difference between asking for a sign and testing the Lord, but what is it?

In Judges 6:36-40, Gideon “threw the fleece before the Lord” in order to make sure that it was God speaking to him. This was, in truth, a test. After the fleece was found wet and the ground around it dry, Gideon then asked God to do it again, but this time have the fleece dry and the surrounding ground wet. And when he asked for God to give a sign twice, he apologized to God. To me, this indicates Gideon knew that what he was asking from God was wrong.

God tells us the only manner in which we are allowed to test him is in relation to tithing, which we find in Malachi 3:10, and that test is to first give the proper tithe, after which God will shower you with more blessings than you can imagine. This test is one where we don’t ask God to do something, but we do something that God promises to reward. It is a test of the Lord, but not a test of who or how powerful he is, rather that he is trustworthy to keep his promises.

I think the difference between asking for a sign and testing the Lord has to do with the reason we ask. If I am in need of confirmation that I am doing something right in God’s eyes, and I ask him to show me what he wants, that is not a test. It is a genuine request for help. However, if I tell God that unless he gives me a sign I will not believe in him…to me that sounds more like a test than asking for a sign.

Faith – true faith – is not asking God to prove anything. True faith is choosing to believe, without any proof. I don’t need a sign, or a miraculous event, or even a confirmation from someone else for me to believe that God exists and that he hears my prayers. Of course, when he does answer my prayers I am grateful, and it does confirm my faith; but because my faith is by choice and not based on any specific event, when I don’t get an answer it doesn’t reduce my faith.

I don’t need “proof” because I have faith; anyone who needs proof doesn’t have faith, and frankly, even if they believe because they got proof”, their faith will always be weak.

I believe, in fact I know, that anyone who believes in God because of some miraculous event will be the first to apostatize because we know (from reading Revelation) that the Enemy and the minions of the Enemy will perform many miracles, which will turn many away from the true faith. If your faith is based on a miracle, your future is questionable because if one miracle convinces you that God is real, then another miracle will turn you from God to Satan.

Now that we have discussed this, I think it is safe to say that when you pray to God and ask for signs or confirmation that will help you stay in his will and show you what he wants from you, that is acceptable and even a good thing to do. On the other hand, if you find yourself asking God to prove something, that is testing him.

Satan wants us to test God because he can perform miracles that will fool us into thinking he is God, and by the time we realize we were fooled, it will be too late. Eve found out too late that she had been fooled- don’t let that happen to you.

Thank you for being here; I hope this has been edifying and if so, please subscribe and share me out. I also welcome comments.

Shabbat shalom, and until next time L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Faith is Only the Beginning

We are saved by faith…how many times have you heard that said? When you hear it, do you ever think “Am I really faithful?”

I do. Every day I try to be more faithful, but what does that mean, really?

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Is being faithful believing in God? Is it enough to believe he exists and that the Bible accurately describes him and all he has done? That is not enough- every demon from hell has seen him on his throne and was there when he created everything. And they’re not saved.

Does it mean believing that Yeshua is the Messiah? Yes, that is necessary, but that’s not enough (again) because every demon from hell doesn’t just believe Yeshua is the Messiah, they know it…absolutely! They have seen him and they know he is God’s son. But they’re not saved.

So, nu?  If believing in God and Yeshua as the Messiah isn’t enough, what do I have to do to be “faithful” enough to be saved?

The answer was given to us two millennia ago when Yacov (James) wrote in his letter to the Messianic Jews in the Diaspora that faith without works is dead.

James notes that Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness not only because he believed what God told him, but because he acted on it! Abraham took his belief to the next, and necessary step to be faithful, by doing what God told him to do. His belief wasn’t just passive, it was active and demonstrated by his actions.

You may say, “But God knows the heart, and if I really want to be good and if I fail, God will know and forgive me.”

I have heard this from people more than a few times, and I worry for them because they are, without realizing it, telling God what he will do. I recall how God felt about the friends of Job when they assumed to know what God does and why.

God is forgiving, and he will forgive, but not automatically- you have to ask for it. And, you have to really be repentant in order to receive it.

When it comes to being faithful, we have to have a LOT more than just believing that God is God and Yeshua is the Messiah: we have to become better. And when I hear people say they will try to be better, my answer to them is the same as Jedi Master Yoda gave to Luke Skywalker, “Do or do not: there is no try.”

“But I am weak, I am a sinner from birth, no one is without sin!” Yes, that is all true, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be better than you are. If you want to be with God forever, you need to do more than just believe: you must have faith that is strong enough to spur you to action.

“But what must I do? How do I know what God expects of me?” The answer is in the Bible, specifically the first 5 books, which we call the Torah. No one can perform every law, regulation, commandment, and requirement that is in the Torah, but we can certainly do more than we are doing now.  When your faith causes you to become more of what God wants you to be by acting more in the way God wants you to act, then your faith is strong enough to ensure your salvation.

So long as you maintain it. Faith is something that comes to us with difficulty because it means giving up what we are used to, and for that very same reason, it is something that is too easily lost.

Shaul’s letters were written to Gentiles just learning about God and his instructions. Their faith was tested daily because their entire environment was against them, and they had to make a total U-turn in their behavior to show their faithfulness. You can see this in every letter Shaul wrote to the Gentile Believer congregations he started because he addressed the problems that their weak faith caused, which was human selfishness and other sinful activities. His admonishments regarding the Torah were not meant to teach people to ignore it but slowly learn how to live it. He was teaching people raised in a hedonistic and sexually perverted lifestyle how to live in a completely righteous way. Not an easy task, and so he didn’t try to force the entire Torah down their throats all at once, but instead to have them drink milk until they could have pureed Torah, and eventually they would be able to handle the “meat” of God’s word.

But a discussion of Shaul’s influence on the early Gentile Believers is beyond the scope of this message.

Your faith is measurable by your actions. There is a scale that God will use to judge each and every one of us, so we need to make sure that the side of the scale we want to be heavy on is our obedience to God’s instructions.  That is what James tells us is the true measure of our faith.

I will leave you with this last question: if you saw a hand writing a message on the wall, are you absolutely positive that the things you have said and done will demonstrate that your faith is enough to measure up?

Thank you for being here and please subscribe. Share me out, and if you like what I do then please consider buying my books (available through my website) and I always welcome your comments.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Do You Know Why You Believe?

Are you a Believer? Do you believe in God as the creator of the Universe and Judge of the world? Do you believe that Jesus (Yeshua) is the Messiah God promised to send to the Jewish people, who also made salvation available to both Jews and Gentiles, alike? Do you believe that Yeshua is the son of God and that he will return to establish his kingdom and eternally rule over all the Earth?

You do? That’s good! Now for one more question…do you know why you believe this?

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Maybe I should start with an easier question? How about this: do you know why I am asking if you know why you believe?

I grew up believing Jesus Christ is not the Messiah the Jews have been waiting for, and that he was a traitor to Judaism and created Christianity, which either wants to convert Jews or kill them. And after believing this for more than 40 years of my life, when I started to question why I believed it the answer came to me.

I believed it because I was told to believe it.

I have met many Christians, both “Born Again” and mainstream, all of whom believe Jesus Christ is the son of God (Christianity seems to stay away from the title “Messiah”) and that if they are a good person they will get to go to heaven. When I have asked them why they believe this to be true, their answer often comes down to “because it’s true.”

Frankly, that’s not much of an answer, is it? That answer means they believe because they have been told to believe. They have not really accepted Jesus as their personal savior, or as the Messiah which he was sent to the Earth to be, or even as a real person. He is just “Jesus”, you know, that guy on the cross at the front of the church.  Many Believers (Born Again or not doesn’t matter) don’t know the Bible, they don’t know about Jesus’s Jewish roots, they don’t even know that he is not the one who created the dogma, tradition, holidays, doctrine or rhetoric that they have had forced down their gullet their whole lives!

They believe in Jesus as their savior because they have been raised to believe in Jesus as their savior, just as I was raised to reject Jesus as my savior.

So let’s go back to the original question: why do YOU believe?

Is it because you want to be in heaven? Not good enough- the Enemy will promise you heaven on earth, and ask you why wait until you are dead? If heaven is your reason for believing, then you will be turned from the truth.

Do you believe because your parents, grandparents, friends, and acquaintances all believe? Then you are just another sheep in the fold, following blindly and being led to slaughter.

Do you believe because you have read the Bible- the entire Bible from Genesis through Revelation- and after praying to God for guidance and discernment have come to your own conclusion that Yeshua/Jesus is the Messiah God promised to send to the Jews, DID send to the Jews and then through the Apostles was made available to the Gentiles? Is your belief based on your own choice, not dependent on anyone else’s choice?

If your answer is “Yes, I choose to believe in Jesus as my Messiah!” then you are in good shape. Your faith in him is firm and you will not easily be led astray because your faith is founded on your own choice.

My faith is strong because not only did I choose to accept Yeshua as my Messiah, but because I felt like I had to betray some 5,700+ years of Jewish ancestry to do it. My choice to accept Yeshua came before I even understood the truth of his teachings or the fact that modern Christianity is mostly from Constantine and Gentile misinterpretation. What I had always been told to believe was created by Jesus, when I decided to find out for myself, I found out that it wasn’t. And when I learned the truth, my choice to believe was confirmed, my feeling of betrayal was wiped away forever, and my faith has become rooted in cement.

And beyond that, my choice to believe has been confirmed by the many blessings I have received after I chose to believe, which I KNOW are from God and a reward for my faithfulness.

What you need to do, no matter how strong you believe your faith is in God and Jesus, is to look into the mirror and ask yourself, “Why do I believe in Jesus, really?”  Pretend someone is attacking your faith and you have to tell them why you accept Jesus as the Messiah. And if you can’t come up with justification you can show is based in the Bible, in your life experience, or in your own personal study, then you need to re-evaluate your faith. You need to realize that maybe, just maybe, you haven’t really chosen to accept Yeshua on your own. Maybe your acceptance is nothing more than just going along with the crowd and you don’t really know where you are going?

That is a dangerous position to be in. So please!- ask yourself why you believe, and if the answer is anything like “because” or “I guess I always have” or “I don’t know- I just do” then you are in trouble, and your salvation is unsure because your faith is not your own.

The only true faith is the one you choose to have, and if you haven’t made the choice to accept Yeshua/Jesus as your Messiah totally on your own, then you don’t really believe in anything.

Thank you for being here, please share me out to your friends and family and subscribe.

Also, please check out my Gofundme campaign to help send Bibles and prayer shawls to three rural Ugandan Messianic Synagogues. So far we have only raised $175 of the $650 we need- if everyone reading this message gave only $10 we would have enough money to help these Believers, who have chosen to believe despite the religious persecution in that country. Here is a link to that site:

Ugandan Messianic Synagogues

I will be out of the country on a family trip to Ireland all next week and will not be posting again until the end of this month, so until then L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!