What Does “Freedom in Christ” Really Mean?

I did a search on the Internet asking what freedom in Christ really means. Now, I know you can’t trust the Internet, but it does give us an idea of what others are being told.

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

One site said it means freedom from regulations and following rules. Another said it is freedom from being a slave to sin. Another said it was freedom to make our own choices (I thought we could do that anyway), and still, another said it is freedom to see things clearly.

The prevalent idea seems to be freedom from being under the curse of the law, which means freedom from sin since we are taught that Yeshua took our sins upon him when he was crucified.

All of these ideas have a grain of truth to them, but I think it is simpler than what they say. Yes, Yeshua made it possible for us to be forgiven of our sins because he is the substitution for the animal we are commanded to bring to the temple in Jerusalem. God’s Torah states we cannot sacrifice to him anywhere other than where he places his name (Deuteronomy 12:13); when the temple was destroyed in 73 AD, Jews had no way to be forgiven of their sins.

Except through Messiah Yeshua.

Yeshua and his Disciples never taught that the freedom in Yeshua was the freedom to disobey. That is what the Enemy of God wants us to think; it is no different than the line he used on Eve (Genesis 3:4) when he told her, “you will surely not die“, and we all know how that turned out.  Anyone who teaches freedom in Christ means freedom from the law is working for the wrong guy.

I believe that the true freedom in Christ is simply and solely what the Bible tells us it is: freedom from the second death.

Isaiah 25:7-8 says:

On this mountain he will destroy the veil which covers the face of all peoples, the veil enshrouding all the nations.  He will swallow up death forever. Adonai Elohim will wipe away the tears from every face, and he will remove from all the earth the disgrace his people suffer.

which is referenced by Shaul in 1 Corinthians 15:54-57 when he says:

When what decays puts on imperishability and what is mortal puts on immortality, then this passage in the Tanakh will be fulfilled: Death is swallowed up in victory. Death, where is your victory? Death, where is your sting?  The sting of death is sin, and sin draws its power from the Torah; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Yeshua the Messiah!

The freedom we have when we accept Yeshua as our Messiah is not so much freedom from our sins, but freedom from the spiritual consequences of our sins, which is the second death. All will die, and all will come before God for judgment. Those who do not have Yeshua as their Intercessor will have nothing more than their own righteousness to save them from eternal separation from God’s presence.

And we all know how righteous we are compared to what God wants from us: as Isaiah said, all our righteous deeds are but filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6.)

Yeshua did not free us from obedience to God; in fact, he reinforced everything that we are instructed to do in the Torah. What he did that was different was that he taught us the Remes, the deeper, spiritual understanding of the law.  The Pharisees only taught the P’shat, the literal meaning of the words, but Yeshua gave us a deeper, more spiritual and more intimate understanding of God’s instructions.

We still need to do as Yeshua did, which is to follow (to the best of our ability) the instructions God gave to all people that are in the Torah. We can’t be perfectly obedient, and that is why God sent the Messiah to us: through the Messiah, we can find freedom from the second death. We all sin and therefore we all deserve death, and ever since that day when the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed, without Yeshua, there is no forgiveness of sin.

The true meaning of freedom in Christ is that when we accept Yeshua as our Messiah, we will be free from the spiritual consequences of our sins.

One last point and warning: being free from the spiritual consequence of our sins doesn’t mean we won’t suffer those consequences while we are still alive.

Thank you for being here and please subscribe if you haven’t done so, already. I welcome your comments and look forward to our next time together. Until then, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Passover Message 2018

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


Chag Sameach!! Pesach Tov! Shabbat Shalom!

These are the greetings we will be giving to each other this evening because Passover (Pesach) starts at sundown, and this year (2018) so does Shabbat. Our preparations are twice as important today: not only do we prepare for Shabbat but we also prepare for Pesach.

For those people who keep their home Kosher according to Talmudic (also called Rabbinic) tradition, the plates might be the special, once-a-year Pesach servings. The house will not just be cleaned of dirt and dust, but also everything with any form of leavening in it. The Orthodox will even have the Rabbi confirm this and give them a certificate to state their house is “clean.” The removed foods will be given to the (Gentile) poor.

The Seder plate will be set: we will need chicken (the traditional meat for the Seder since we cannot sacrifice a lamb), a roasted egg, charoset (an apple, walnut, honey and wine mixture), matzo (lotsa matzo!), wine that has been approved as Kosher for Pesach, horse radish, parsley and salt-water. A lamb shank bone is also needed.  All of these food items are part of the Seder, which we celebrate with the reading of the Haggadah.  That is the Passover story, taken from Exodus 12, and as we read from the Haggadah we sample the foods and remember the bitterness of their slavery as we taste of their bitter tears when we dip the parsley in the salt water and eat it. In the middle of the story, just after they’ plagues are recited, we eat the Passover meal. After dinner the children look for the Afikomen (a hidden piece of matzo) so that we can then have desert and complete the reading of the Haggadah.

All told, it is more than a meal- it is an experience.

Over the past twenty years or so Donna and I have shared our Seder with different friends each year, trying to invite those friends who have never experienced a Seder. We use a Messianic Haggadah so that our Gentile friends can see where Yeshua (Jesus) fits into the Seder. It is surprising (I should say, disappointing) that so many of our Gentile friends have no idea that this Seder was what they know as the Last Supper. Their Christian training has done nothing to help them understand their connection to Judaism.

I want to leave you with this interesting thought: did you know that even though Yeshua is called the Passover Lamb because he died for our sins, the real Passover lamb was NOT a sin sacrifice? It was a peace offering, also called a Thanksgiving sacrifice. However, the Yom Kippur sacrifice (which was a goat, not a lamb) is a sin sacrifice. So Yeshua really was a Yom Kippur sacrifice but he performed that function on Passover. Do you know why?

I don’t! But…I do know that because we are cleansed of our sin by Yeshua’s sacrifice we can then come into the presence of God. What Yeshua did was actually perform two sacrificial functions at one time: he made it possible for us to be cleansed of sin which allows us to come into the presence of God and share our thanksgiving meal with him.

If you are having a Seder tonight then may God’s blessing be on you and all with you.

If you are enjoying an Easter ham this Sunday, well…I wish God’s blessings on you if your heart is for Messiah and God, but please consider this: you will be eating something that the person you are celebrating would find to be an abomination on his table.

I will end today’s message with the phrase that concludes every Seder:

לשנה הבאה ב’רושל’ם

(Lashanah haba’ah bi Yerushalayim)

Next year in Jerusalem! 

free Will or predestination?

I was reading (in the New Covenant writings) some of the Epistles to the Messianic Communities in the Diaspora this weekend and noticed how Shaul (Paul) and Kefa (Peter) write in a way that seems to indicate God has predestined those who will be saved.

We have Ephesians 1:5 (“Having predestinated us to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,…“) and Romans 8:29-30 (“For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.”)

Even in Psalm 139: 16 it says, Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”

There are other verses in the Bible that seem to indicate we were chosen beforehand, that we are the elect, the special ones who have found favor, yadda-yadda-yadda. It got me wondering if there really is something to the idea of predestination, which says God has already made His decision about who will go and who will not.

But then I came to my senses. I thought that if we are predestined, then the prayers for my children, and everyone else’s prayers for those who are not saved to be saved, are useless. The divine commission to make disciples is a waste of time because those who are chosen will become disciples without us and those who are rejected , well, tough luck! Why waste my breath, why “kick against the goads”  to make Believers out of non-believers if those who are to be will be and those who are not to be are already screwed?

Ridiculous, isn’t it?  All these verses don’t mean that an individual is chosen and another individual is rejected, it means that God has formed the way for everyone to find salvation through Messiah Yeshua. It means that what He has done is to choose life for us and provide the means for us to take hold of it.

In Ezekiel 18 God says that he doesn’t want anyone to die and that He wishes all sinners would turn from their sin, and live. God isn’t a liar, so if He wants people to turn from their sins, then he must have made it possible for us to make our own decisions about what we do or don’t do.

Ergo: Free Will.

Another argument for free will is that God owns everything, He is in control of everything (although that doesn’t mean He does control everything- He can, but He chooses what to control and what to leave alone) and yet, there is one thing that He cannot control or have unless we give it to Him: our love, faithfulness and obedience. If we have the ability to choose to give God our love and faith, then we have the ability to choose to reject Him.

Ability to choose is called Free Will.

Next time you run into a Calvinist, or anyone who says that God has predetermined or predestined those who will be saved, enlighten that person with Ezekiel 18 and the above argument for free will. You can even throw this in, if it comes down to it: if God has chosen who will be saved and who won’t, then why did He need to send Messiah Yeshua to die for our sins?  After all, those chosen are already in and those rejected have no chance, so why provide a means through which your fate can be changed?  If your fate is sealed before you are born, then why tell us that all who call on the name of the Lord will be saved?

Without free will, this whole Messiah “thing” makes absolutely no sense.

God has given us free will: it was evident in the Garden, it is clear throughout the history of the Jewish people and the writings of the New Covenant. It is clear from the many times God has stated through the Psalms and the prophets that He wants us to turn from our sin so that we can live. Why ask us to turn if He has already decided?

I’ll tell you who really doesn’t want you to have free will- religion. That thing called “religion” is dogmatic, stoic, and enabling. It doesn’t want you to think, it wants you to follow. It doesn’t want you to question, it wants you to obey, blindly. It doesn’t want you to decide for yourself what is the truth, it wants you accept without question what it tells you is the truth.

God has no religion, only rules. He tells us how to worship Him, and how to treat each other. And we have the right, the God-given right, to decide for ourselves if we will do what God says or not.

Free will is a two-edged sword: it cuts both ways. Do as God says and the world will hate you, do as the world says and you have to reject God (He still loves you, but His judgment will be righteous.) So, whatever you choose, understand that it is your choice. If you choose to do what you are told by religion, without question or investigation, that is a choice.

We all have been given free will to make out own choice- better make sure it’s the right one!

Parashah Bo (Go) Exodus 10 – 13:16

The last three plagues fall upon Egypt: the locusts, 3 days of darkness and the death of the firstborn. With this last and most terrible plague, Pharaoh is humbled before God and allows the people to leave without condition. In fact, he pretty much kicks them out. The rules for the Passover Seder and the festival of unleavened bread are also given in this parashah, as well as the Lord telling Moses that this is to be the first day of the year for the Jewish people.

The sacrifice of the lamb is very different here than anywhere else in the Tanakh. This lamb was to be chosen on the 10th day of the month (Nisan in the current Jewish calendar, Abib back then) and then taken into the house- separated from the rest of the flock and treated, almost, like a family pet. Then it was to be slaughtered in the late afternoon to evening of the 14th day, roasted whole over a fire and eaten in it’s entirety.  Anything that was not eaten was to be burned up completely.

We always hear Yeshua referred to as the Lamb of God, and the Paschal (Passover) Lamb, and His sacrificial death is the ultimate sin sacrifice, through which we all are able to be forgiven.

We may be wrong in calling Yeshua the “Passover Lamb” because the Passover lamb wasn’t a sin sacrifice!

The Passover lamb was not a sin sacrifice: it was a friendship offering.  There are 5 types of offerings, or Korbanot:

  1. the burnt offering- represents total submission to God’s will and the entire animal is burnt on the altar at the Temple
  2. the sin offering- this was for unintentional sins, and the part that was eaten was eaten only by the Kohanim (Priests)
  3. the guilt offering- this sacrifice was for any sins that may have been committed but the person is unaware of them. It’s like insurance, and the eaten part was eaten only by the Kohanim
  4. the food and drink offering- this is another type of friendship or thanksgiving offering, devoting to God the fruit or work of our labor. The items sacrificed are not naturally made but man-made items which we devote back to God. Whatever portion is to be eaten is to be eaten by the Kohanim
  5. The peace, thanksgiving or friendship offering- this was obligatory for survivors of life-threatening crises and included free-will offerings, and offerings made after fulfillment of a vow. The essential difference between the peace offering and all the other offerings is that only the peace offering is eaten by both the Kohanim and the one making the offering. This was shared between God, the Kohan and the one making the offering.

Thus, the Passover lamb that was slaughtered was not a sin offering at all- it was a thanksgiving offering (in Hebrew, Todah / תודה) so we can’t really call Yeshua the Paschal Lamb because that lamb was not a sacrificial death to absolve us of sin.

On the other hand, the peace offering was designed to bring us closer to God, as all the sacrifices were meant to do, and with Yeshua’s death the Parochet was torn from top to bottom, representing that the curtain separating the Holy of Holies from the common person was no longer there. And this was an act of God because it was ripped from top to bottom, from Heaven to Earth, from God to Man. So when Yeshua died, His death not only was a sin sacrifice, as we would do on Yom Kippur, but was also a peace offering.

Yeshua’s sacrifice, the offering of His life, performed a dual purpose under the sacrificial system- the sin offering to cleanse us before God, and the peace offering to bring us in total communion with God.

The Passover was supposed to be shared with family and those who have been circumcised and joined to the people of Israel (sojourners with the people) and as such no one who is not a “Believer”, if we can use that term, is supposed to partake. I have shared my Passover seder with people who are not Jewish; in fact, Donna and I try to invite people who are not Jewish and have never been to a seder to introduce them to the roots of their religion. If anyone is a member of any of the Judeo-Christian religions, then the Passover seder should be for them since they are followers of God. How often have you heard me say that God has no religion? So if they believe in God then they should partake of the Passover seder. Well, that’s my feeling.

I also feel they should be made aware of the fact that God’s laws and rules in the Torah are valid for them, too. In fact, not just valid, not just a good idea, but required.

I think it is interesting that the Passover seder is probably one of the most well-known Jewish celebrations, and that Yeshua (Jesus) is called the Passover Lamb by nearly everyone, yet His sacrificial death was not the same as the passover lamb’s death. His death at Passover represented what the Yom Kippur sacrifice is to do. The two biggest Jewish festivals, Passover and Yom Kippur, were brought together in one event with the sacrificial death of Messiah Yeshua. He freed us from sin and brought us into communion with God, which is what is happening in the parashot we are reading tonight. We read how the people are freed, and soon the people come to Mt. Horeb (Sinai) and there they commune with God.

Is there a parochet still separating you from God?  The curtain in the Temple was woven material, thick and heavy, but is there a parochet in your life that you can’t see? Do you obey the commandments that are in the Torah? Do you follow what God says to do? Do you believe that you should do as Jesus did?

I believe there is a parochet thicker, heavier and more impossible to penetrate than the one in the Temple of Solomon- it is called “religion”, and it is what separates us from God. It separates us from God because it rejects His laws (I am not just talking about Christianity- even within Judaism many of the Jews today who are reform or conservative ignore and reject Torah laws as obsolete) and acts, thereby, as an idol. The biggest complaint Yeshua had against the Pharisees was that they gave man-made traditions precedence over God’s laws. Rules made by people that take precedence over the rules given to us by God: this is what I consider the absolute definition of “religion.”

People need to read the bible, from Genesis through Revelations, and recognize it is one book, Christianity was not created by Yeshua (it was created by Constantine) and the commandments God gave us in the Torah are the only rules and regulations that we are to follow. At the end of Deuteronomy Moses writes that anyone who adds to or detracts from the laws written in that book will suffer all the plagues of Egypt. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to have to deal with that.

Read the book, the whole book, and see for yourself that there is nothing “new” in the New Covenant  and understand that Yeshua died so we could be free of sin once and for all, and that the parochet that was torn was supposed to stay torn.

Don’t let your ‘man’-dated worship of God repair the parochet.




Freedom Costs Lives

The traditional belief is that after the Fall in the garden of Eden, God sacrificed animals to atone for the sin of Adam and Eve, and that is where He got the animal skins from which He made their clothes. The bible is clear, God is clear- the only way to atone for sin is by the blood of an innocent. The cost of the freedom from sin is an innocent life.

The cost of political freedom is high, too. We who have served in the military, whether in a war zone or not, know that our lives are on the line, every day, because you never know when you will be called. It’s sort of like being a Believer, never knowing when Yeshua (Jesus) will come back. Or, in a more “day-to-day” setting, never knowing when you might be called to serve God’s purpose. It may be to help someone find his or her Messiah, it may be to help an old person carry groceries, it may be to feed a homeless and hungry person.

It may be to give your life for a friend- Yeshua said that there is no greater love than that. It may also be to stand for what is right and Godly in a world that is wrong and satanic.

God has blessed Donna and I very much. Although there is Tsouris in our lives, and we have things go wrong, we are truly blessed. We own our home, we have no debt, and when I can get SSI next year we can afford to let me retire at 62. God willing that things in the world don’t get worse.

Frankly, as much as I appreciate what God has done, and all the wonderful things we plan, I am prepared to live in poverty and distress as the times of the Tribulation grow closer. I am certain that we are close, and although the part of me that always sees the other side says that for thousands of years people have felt this way, I still look forward to the return of Messiah, even though what it means is nearly the total destruction of everything I hold dear and everything I have now. Remember, He isn’t coming back when the trouble starts. It won’t be until it all seems lost, which means that we will all be at the end of our ropes- no money, no homes, destitute, under persecution. It won’t be like sitting in the green room with tea and scones waiting to be called on stage.

The freedom to live under the rule of Messiah will first cost us many lives. Many of those lives will be of Believers who stood fast in the path of evil, who refused to be moved, to take the mark, and who will be killed for their faithfulness.

It’s happening already in many third world countries.

Most everyone accepts that the freedom to live in a free country, like America, costs the lives of some of it’s inhabitants. I think most people know enough about the bible to know that the cost of freedom from sin is innocent blood, but that is of animals, right? Sheep, goats, bulls, cows….right? God created those animals, separated them (in Leviticus 11) as clean and therefore, eligible for sacrifice. Maybe that’s why the bible also tells us to care for our animals and treat them well- after all, if they aren’t perfect specimens they can’t be used as a sacrifice, and that is not good for the sinner.

Believers have accepted that the sacrifice Yeshua made is the one last and ultimate sacrifice for sin, but you still have to be nice to animals, even if you don’t need their innocent blood anymore.

I was talking about the sacrificial system to someone the other day, and simplifying the process to when someone does a bad thing, to be forgiven an innocent life must be sacrificed so the bad person can now be a good person. That does over-simplify the process, but the one I was talking with said, “That doesn’t seem right.” And you know what? I agree. It doesn’t seem right: if I kill someone why should I get away with it, so to speak, if I kill an innocent animal and sacrifice it to God? If I kill an animal for my own needs, isn’t that just as much murdering as killing a human who got me angry?  Animals aren’t human, but isn’t killing bad, at any time? Of any living thing?

Here’s the difference: the atonement for sin that an innocent’s blood makes for us isn’t in this life, but in the afterlife. So far as this plane of existence goes, if we do something sinful and wrong, we will suffer for it. Sooner or later, we will. And the bible stipulates the punishment for sinfulness while in this world.

The sad truth is that the sin we commit usually is also felt by others, by innocents, who suffer from our sinfulness. Just as innocent blood is needed to atone for sin on the spiritual level, there is a lot of innocent blood being spilt in the real world, today, as a result of sin. And much of it isn’t a sacrifice for the sinner. It’s just a waste of innocent blood.

Martyrs pay for their faithfulness with their lives, many other faithful Believers pay for the freedom to worship God as He says to with their their jobs, their friends, even their family. Freedom, whether political or spiritual, costs lives.

I am saying this, which is probably pretty obvious to most of you already, to remind you that when you read about or know of someone who is an innocent that has suffered from the sin of another, don’t blame God or think they weren’t so innocent (like Job’s friends),  and accept that this is how it works. We don’t understand why, and we don’t have to- it’s just the way it works.

And sometimes bad things happen to good people, and good things happen to bad people. We can’t understand it, and we don’t need to. We need to keep focused on what we do in service to God.

This life is short and meant for only one thing- to prepare us for eternity.  We never know when we will leave this existence: no one knows when they will die, so we have to be prepared. And no one knows when the Messiah will return, but the signs are pretty clear lately, so if you have been on the fence about really getting to know God, about finally coming to a decision about will you do as the bible says or as your religion has told you, don’t wait anymore. And know that what you decide will be what you will be judged on.

And we will all face the Judge. The only thing that stands between you and eternal suffering is how good your lawyer is.

As for me, well….I have the best lawyer there is: Yeshua. And what’s even better?- he’s a Jewish lawyer.

Who is your lawyer?

Everything’s wonderful, but…

I have often mentioned I read Dear Abby and Ask Amy in the morning newspapers, along with the comics and the word puzzles, because these “advice columns” give me fuel for my blogging fire.

If you also read them, have you noticed that so very often the writer starts off with how wonderful their spouse or partner is, how s/he is kind and affectionate and how wonderful everything is with that person. Then they say something like, “But when he is drunk every night , he hits me” or “She spends too much money and we are broke” or maybe even, “I sneak into his emails and he is flirting with co-workers.”

They try to convince themselves that everything is wine and roses, but they have really significant issues and they ask Abby or Amy what to do. Don’t they read their own letters? It’s obvious what to do- get your head out of the place it is in and back on your shoulders! Open your eyes! WAKE UP!!!

I also notice how I almost never see anyone write in who is a Believer. Oh, there are “religious” people who write in, all right, but they are usually the ones that give God a bad name: they are self-righteous, unloving, and stoic. It is good stuff for the column, since everyone reading their bigoted and pretentious attitudes gets a good rise from it (which is why, when we are honest with ourselves, many of us read these types of articles) but you rarely, if ever, see anyone who trusts in God and is faithful write in.

Maybe that’s because we know the best answers aren’t in the newspaper, but in the Bible.

What will happen to these people who try to convince themselves that all is wonderful while they are in the middle of tsouris? Won’t they be the ones who will run to follow the false Messiahs Yeshua warns us about? Won’t they be the ones to take the mark of the enemy because he will promise joy and riches and all those things people without faith and trust in God will want given to them?

We need to keep our eyes open and be honest with ourselves. We need to follow the example of those in the Bible who were able to accept the truth about themselves. David listened to Nathan and accepted responsibility for his sin with Bat Sheba; long before David, his ancestor Y’hudah (Judah) accepted his guilt when he realized he had not given his son to Tamar in marriage, as he promised; Shaul even took the vows of a Nazarene twice- not because he did anything wrong, but to demonstrate to others that he was not doing anything against Torah.

We need to be very, very careful. The times are here already, the shofar is in the hands of the one who is to blow it, and we need to be aware, alert, and honest with ourselves about what we are doing, who we are with, and where we are going.

It is especially important for those Believers who only want to hear about the love and acceptance that the grace of God gives to stop fooling themselves. They don’t want to even think that their salvation comes at a price; I am not talking about Yeshua’s suffering, but the price each of us must pay when we are saved. Our individual salvation is easy to receive and hard to keep. That’s why Yeshua said that those who wish to follow Him must take up their execution stake every day. We need to work at keeping our salvation, at being better, at doing more for God and dying more to self. Every day, every hour. Those who only want to hear about God’s love and acceptance and heaven are, as my Pastor says it so well, not willing to leave Goshen. They want all the happy-happy and none of the real life truth about how hard it is to be, and to stay, saved in an unsaved world.

Don’t tell yourself lies. Don’t make out that things are fine when they aren’t, and don’t go in the opposite direction, either: don’t be discouraged by the evil and hate in the world. It’s going to get worse. You need to steel yourself, you need to wear that armor Shaul told us about in Ephesians. We all need to maintain our hope in God’s promises and keep faith in Him; more than that, we also need to accept that we all have to work at it. Salvation is here but it hasn’t arrived yet; we have it but we won’t use it until Yeshua returns; when we cash in our chips is when we receive the prize.

Yeshua told parables that ended with Him saying, “Let those with eyes see and those with ears hear.” We need to have eyes that are open, ears that are unplugged, and faith that is unbending. More than just that, we need to have a humble attitude and contrite spirit, as David did, so that we can accept the truth and work within it.

Look for the truth in your life and don’t sugarcoat salvation. Remember what Yeshua told you: the truth will set you free.

Living in Fear

How many people do you know that always think the worst that can happen? When they hear about a plane crash they say, “I don’t know if I want to fly anymore.” Or when they get a call late at night, the first thing they say is, “Oh no! Someone must have died!” (The first thing I say when I get a call late at night is, “Someone better had died!”)

Maybe it’s more subtle, maybe it’s something as seemingly innocuous as not driving a car, or refusing to travel, or even something as silly as never ordering anything different at a restaurant. Sometimes this is personal preference, and sometimes it’s just doing what one wants. If someone is brave enough to go their own way, and eat only what they like, that’s fine. But if their resasoning is that they are afraid they won’t like something, or that something bad might happen, then they are living in fear.

Fear is a very strong emotion, and it is like fire; it can be a friend or a foe. Oh, yes- there are things to be afraid of, and someone without fear is a fool. Fear is what keeps us aware, fear is what protects us from running foolishly into trouble or personal harm. Fear can be a lifesaver, or a life-ruiner. It all depends on who is on control: are we controlling our fears or are our fears controlling us?

There is one verse from the B’rit Chadashah (Good News) that I try to remember and tell people I know who profess to believe in God and worship Him: It’s 2 Timothy 1:7, where Shaul reminds Timothy that, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and discipline.” Within the context of the letter, Shaul (Paul) is empowering Timothy, a young Disciple and someone struggling to preach the word. Paul is in jail and stating how he has been abandoned by friends. This letter is to encourage and strengthen Timothy to continue preaching with confidence and zeal, despite the suffering that Paul is going through.

The Bible is rife with statements and encouragements by God to those who have faith:

Psalm 23:4; Psalm 27:1; Psalm 118:6; Deuteronomy 31:6; Psalm 56:3-4; Isaiah 41:13; and on and on and on…

Fear that controls us, that keeps us from trying new things, that runs our life…this is not fear of the Lord, it is faithlessness. Yes- that’s exactly what it is. If you are a person who says you worship the Lord, then you are not to be afraid. The angels that went to Gideon and Joshua began by telling them not to be afraid. Why? Because they were afraid, because they did not trust. God sent His angels to be a physical sign to them that God is with them. After which they acted faithfully, took hold of that encouragement and fearlessly ran with it. Look what they did with it!

We all have fear in us. Abraham was as faithful as anyone ever was, yet he had fear- he “pimped” his wife two times out of fear! And when Moshe first saw the burning bush he was told not to be afraid to go to Pharaoh. Moses took a little more convincing than Abraham, but once he devoted himself to doing God’s will, even the failure to free the people after 9 plagues did not dissuade Moses from facing a Pharaoh that said he would kill him and a people that wanted to stone him. And in the desert, did the people not revolt? Did they not want to stone him and Aaron (at least) a few times? Did not Pharaoh’s army pursue them? All this time Moses grew stronger in faith, and fear left him. By the time they reach the land, Moses was unshakable.

I work with someone who assigns the incoming calls to the system engineers (if she is reading this do not be disheartened- please take hold of what I am saying and be strong, for yourself. I only want you to be happy and faith is the path to joy.) Each time she calls me to say someone is on the phone for me, she whines my name and sounds apologetic. I have told her, over and over, there is nothing to be afraid of. She is constantly afraid that she will “bother” me because she knows how busy I am. Well, DUH!! Of course I’m busy- it’s a help desk, there are barely enough techies to handle the calls and I am always busy. I tell her to just let me know if someone is calling for me, and I will let her know if she can send them through or to please take a message.  Yet, despite my constantly telling her it’s OK, and just say, “Steven: so-and-so is on the phone, do you want to take it?” Instead I constantly get, “Steeeeve? I’m sorry to bother you, I know how busy you are, but so-and-so is calling. They are asking for you and I know you’re busy and I don’t know if you want to take this or not? Do you want to take it?”

This is what I mean about living in fear. Despite the many times I have told this person that it is OK to just tell me who is on the phone, she refuses to accept that she can approach me openly. She thinks she is being courteous, but the truth is she is afraid of upsetting me, or getting yelled at, or upsetting the caller, and it is all founded in her overriding fear of being rejected. Of not being “liked.”  If only she showed faithfulness. She says she is a Believer, but yet, she is ruled by her fears and not by the spirit of victory that we all have in God .

Yes, even something as small and seemingly insignificant as transferring a phone call can indicate if one is living in fear or not.

Here is Zechariah 4:6, “Then he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.”  We mere humans have little to nothing with which to accomplish great things, but God has everything that ever was and is, and whatever He needs he can create with a thought. It’s true! When He is with us, who can stand against us? Shaul tells us this in Romans 8:31, the basis for which is found in Isaiah 41. Whether we are battling the demons of the Enemy, or just asking someone to do something for us, we need to be firm and faithful.

How do you get this faith? It’s actually quite simple: do what God says you should do. Follow His commandments and He will bless you here on Earth. He promises that throughout the Torah, throughout the books of the Prophets and Yeshua confirms all this in His teachings, as well.

God has provided all you will ever need, and if you are afraid, remember who is on your side. If you are ashamed of God, Yeshua says that He will be ashamed of you (Mark 8:38) so stand firm and be faithful.

Being afraid of everything is not humility: humility takes strength and faithfulness (search “humility” on this page to read more.)  Being afraid does not serve God; it serves the Enemy of God. Being ruled by fear is when your actions are based not on, “How will this reflect on God?” but on, “What will happen to me and what will people think of me?”

It’s not about you, it’s not about me, it is all about God. Be faithful, trust in God, and he will justify your trust. Live in fear and the Enemy will eat you alive (Matthew 10:28.)

When you stop living in fear you can be truly free. When you reach out to grab hold of God you have to let go of your fear, first. So let it go, reach for God, and His hand will grab yours.

Fear of the world (being afraid of everything) will enslave you, slowly kill you and destroy your soul, whereas fear of the Lord (meaning faithful and obedient) will give you courage, strength and freedom.

You choose.