Psalm 83- Then and Now.

The Psalms are a wonderful collection of the poetry David created, as well as from other authors. Moses is credited to have written Psalm 90, and 12 Psalms (Psalm 50 and Psalms 73-83) are credited to Asaph.  Asaph was one of the Temple leaders in charge of the musicians during the time of King David.

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It struck me that many of these psalms Asaph wrote don’t seem to be at the time of King David. They talk often of how God has abandoned his people and ask for his intervention to save them from their adversaries.

Here are some examples (all my quotes are from the CJB):

Psalm 74:

(1) Why have you rejected us forever, God? ;

(9-11) We see no signs, there is no prophet anymore; none of us knows how long it will last. How much longer, God, will the foe jeer at us? Will the enemy insult our name forever?

Psalm 79:

(1) God, the pagans have entered your heritage. They have defiled your holy temple and turned Yerushalayim into rubble.

(5) How long, Adonai? Will you be angry forever?

Psalm 80:

(15-17) God of armies, please come back! Look from heaven, see, and tend this vine! (referring to Yehuda) Protect what your right hand planted, the son you made strong for yourself.


It is clear to me that the references in these psalms could not have been at the time of David, or even Solomon since the kingdom did not have these issues of abandonment. However, when we consider that the Bible often refers to descendants using the name of their ancestor, even when it is generations later, these psalms could have been written by the descendants of Asaph, who would have been fulfilling the same role in the Second Temple during the time of Nehemiah as the original Asaph did under King David. If this is the case, then the references to God having judged, punished and abandoned the people, with their enemies having taken over, would make sense.

Now we come to Psalm 83. As I read this psalm, I was not transported back to the days of the Second Temple; on the contrary, I was thinking about today.

Verses 5-9 say this:

They say, “Come, let’s wipe them out as a nation; let the name of Israel be remembered no more!” With one mind they plot their schemes; the covenant they have made is against you- the tents of Edom and the Yishma’elim, Mo’av and the Hagrim, G’val, ‘Amon and ‘Amalek, P’leshet with those living in Tzor; Ashur too is allied with them, to reinforce the descendants of Lot. 

Who are these countries today? They are Jordan, Iraq, and the surrounding countries. The plans they made to wipe out God’s people way back in the time of Nehemiah (about 450 BCE) are still being made this very day. Modern-day attacks are no different than what these ancient civilizations tried to do. Today, they fire rockets to kill innocent civilians, they build tunnels to invade the country, and there are even political attacks from European countries (such as the Brexit movement) and the United Nations. There are even attacks from within our own Congress! These recent activities were, and are, intended to do just what the Assyrians, Babylonians, Greeks, and Romans tried to do, which is to destroy God’s people.

Yet, Israel remains. And it is not just surviving, but thriving! And where are the Babylonians? The Philistines? The Romans? The Assyrians?

Let’s not stop there: what about the Crusades? The Spanish Inquisition? And, of course, the Nazi’s- where are they all today?  Gone, and what is left of their country is no longer a world power. In fact, some of these countries are barely surviving.

Psalm 83 ends with a request to God to shatter and destroy the enemies of Israel, to let them be ashamed forever, and to let them know that “you alone, whose name is Adonai, is the Most High over all the Earth.” 

I see the End Days approaching, prophecy coming true as the whole world seems to be reviving Anti-Semitism and coming against Israel. This is what the Prophets told us would happen, what Messiah said would happen, and what was revealed to John when he had his vision on the island of Patmos. God is done judging Israel- now he is turning his wrath upon the nations of the world, the Goyim, for their part in all they have done to try to destroy the apple of God’s eye.

We should be calling out to God for his help, but not to stop the terror. Yes, pray for Israel, but not that it finds a peace which men make, but that it finds the eternal peace God will provide for it. That means it must go through the fire, so pray for the trip to be swift.

We are going to be hurt. Israel and the Jewish people, as well as those that support them,  will not be judged, but as the nations are judged the Jewish people will feel the brunt of the hatred that the nations will have for God’s punishment.  It is inevitable, it is no longer coming but has already arrived, and it will get worse! It’s fine to pray and cry for relief, but I recommend you also steel yourself for the coming tsuris. Pray for strength, pray to maintain your faith, and pray that God’s work is finished swiftly.

I do not look forward to the destruction, strife, and evil that will be perpetrated in the near future. No one wants this to happen, but it is God’s plan and I will not turn my face away from God. I do not want to hear someone tell me, “Get thee behind me, Satan!” There has never been a lasting peace between men, so why waste time asking for it? And why even expect that it could happen?

Do the right thing and ask God to send the Messiah so we can have eternal peace, the kind that only God can create.

Thank you for being here, and please subscribe (if you haven’t already); don’t neglect to check out the books I have written. If you like what you are hearing on my ministry website, you will also enjoy my books.  And I always welcome comments and conversation- all I ask is that you be nice.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Can We Blame God for Who We Are?

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13)


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I don’t think any of us doubt that God has given us gifts and talents. We learn about these gifts as we grow older through our interactions with others, and they are developed based on our experiences.

But what about when these “gifts” cause trouble for us? For example, I have been gifted with a sense of humor, but this humor of mine has developed with a “blue” side to it that just doesn’t seem to want to go away.  Consequently, I sometimes (thankfully a lot less than I used to) make a joke that is funny, but not to everyone hearing it.

We all know someone who has an intellect that is remarkable, but they don’t know how to react to social clues and often their intellect makes it nearly impossible for anyone to relate to them, and vice-versa.

A gift that is God-given which has resulted in pain or social ostracization for the donee makes me wonder if we can blame God for this problem. After all, he gave me that gift, he made me the way I am, so why should I change? Why should I try to be different than what I am if God made me this way?  If so many other people don’t like what I say, maybe that’s because they aren’t spiritual or understanding that this is a gift from God?

There is definitely something to the idea that what the world hates is probably something that God likes, but that isn’t a cop-out to be impolite, to be judgmental, or to ignore your effect on other people.

My answer to this question is no- we cannot blame God for the way we act in society. We can thank God for whatever gift(s) he has given us, but the bottom line is that we need to use these gifts in a way that will glorify God. That is the key; that is the answer to the question “Why am I this way?”

We are what we are because God made us a certain way in order that we can glorify him.  The gifts and talents God gives us are there to be used in his favor, for his purposes and to glorify him. When we use them to glorify ourselves (such as me telling a “dirty” joke because I know the guys I am with will like it) that gift is sullied and stained with pridefulness. When we take the insight God has given to some for teaching but use it to generate dissension and argument, just so that we can come into that argument (we started) and then tell everyone what we know, that is not edifying anyone or glorifying God- that is ego and pride misusing God’s gift.

God has a plan for everyone- I truly believe that. Whether someone is a Believer or an Atheist, God can use that person for his purposes in order to bring about whatever plan he has. We saw Pharaoh used to introduce God to the world; we saw Moses used to show God’s protection and love for his people; we saw Daniel used along with Nebuchadnezzar to tell us about the coming of Messiah and the future of the world. We saw John used to let us know how the Acharit HaYamim (End Times) will come about and what to expect.

Look to see what God has done in your life to use you and others. I know in my life he has used both Believers and non-Believers to shape and develop me into what he wants. I am still somewhat of a blob, still being shaped, but I can see a difference from where I started to where I am now.

This ministry is, I believe, what God wants me to share. I believe he has given me a gift for teaching (which has been confirmed by many others who are Believers and spiritually mature) that I am trying to use in order to edify and teach others about God. I try to use this ministry to reach out to those in a more “worldly” way to teach them about the spiritual truths. As Shaul, that nice Jewish tent-maker from Tarsus once said, I will do and say whatever I have to d and say to get the Gospel out to people.

And despite my attempts, I find myself still falling back into the self-centered use of some of God’s gifts to me. It is an uphill battle to fight our own iniquity, but it is a battle we must never stop fighting.

We must use the gifts and talents that God has given us and bring them back to him with interest. Remember the parable about the Master who gave talents (meaning money) to his slaves before traveling? When he returned, the two slaves that gave him back double what he had given them were welcomed into their Master’s joy. The one who did nothing with the talent he was given was called wicked and sent into the darkness.

What gifts has God given you? Are you aware of them? The most important question of all: are you using them to glorify God? Search yourself if you aren’t sure, and when you do discover the gifts God has given you, use them to glorify him and you will be rewarded with blessings on earth, and in the Olam Haba (world to come) you will be welcomed into your Master’s joy.

Does God Require Praise?


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Let me start out by saying, unequivocally, that God deserves praise.

David praised Him constantly throughout the Psalms, the Prophets praised Him, and Yeshua told us to praise Him at the beginning and the end of the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-14), which serves as a template for all prayer. I found plenty of places where we are told to praise God.

But does God tell us to praise Him? Does He ask for us to do that anywhere in Scripture? I couldn’t find any place in the Bible where God says we must praise Him.

God is very clear we must worship Him, and Him alone, but worship isn’t praise. I believe praise is a form of worship but not worship, itself.

So if God doesn’t require praise from us, why should we do it?

First off, let’s make sure we are all talking about the same thing: for the purpose of this discussion I am defining praise as a verbal expression of wonderment, appreciation and respect. It references specific events, such as acts performed for the benefit of others, for the benefit of the one giving praise or just as a general statement showing respect for the one being praised.

Now, let’s go back to the original question: Does God want us to praise Him? Do you think He feels a need to be praised? Is He a little shy? Maybe He wants our approval? Could it be that God desires praise so He can feel better about Himself?

Of course not- those thoughts are just plain silly.

God doesn’t need anything from us, but He does require worship from us. He tells us exactly how to do that, which is through sacrifice and obedience. Those are the things God requires of us.

So why should we praise God? I think we praise God because by praising Him we are reminding ourselves of all the wonderful things He has done in our life and that makes us feel better. That is why the Bible is full of verses telling us to always praise the Lord.

Praising the Lord makes us feel better.

When we praise God I am sure He appreciates our heartfelt emotions, but the real power of praise is how it lifts our spirits and makes us feel better. God doesn’t need us to make Him feel good, but we need God to make us feel good and the effect of praising God is that we receive joy.

It is that simple: the act of praising God makes us joyful. When we are down, praising the Lord reminds us of all the good He has done in our life and helps overcome the sadness of the moment. When we praise God, the memory of the events that justify our praise brings back that emotional “high” we had when it happened.  When we praise God, our spirits are carried into the very presence of God and we fell elated.

Praise is the best way to get over the doldrums we experience every day when we have to live in a cursed and fallen world. It is a “Happy Pill” we can take anytime, anywhere, without ever needing a prescription.

The most important thing to remember about praise is that it is just as effective when you already feel good as when you feel bad! Now…ain’t that the coolest thing? Praise makes us feel good when we feel bad, and when we feel good praise makes us feel even better.

Praise the Lord every day: every time something good happens in your life, and especially every time something bad happens.

Remember Job? When everything he had was taken from him all at once, his immediate response was to praise God. His praise sustained him through the worst trials and tribulations anyone could ever have to endure.

Here’s a final lesson about praise: it is one of the most powerful weapons we have to use against the enemy.

Starting right now- this very moment- join me in shouting, “Praise the Lord for He is good, and His love endures forever!”

Let me leave you today with Psalm 150:


Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens.  Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness. Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre, praise him with timbrel and dancing, praise him with the strings and pipe, praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals. Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.


Repentance Without Change is Nothing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That is not a good thing to do.

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

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

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

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

“What if…” thinking is faithless living

What do you think about when something is about to occur? Do you look forward to change? Do you embrace new ideas and new challenges?

Or are you the type who thinks, “What if…?” whenever something different is about to happen, or you need to do something?

Those of us who profess to believe in God and trust in Him should not be living out a  “What if…?” life.

So what if “what if…” happens?  Do you really trust in God? Do you really believe that there isn’t anything on the earth, or in the heavens above, or in the depth of the seas that God is not in control of?

When I read the Psalms, and the Prophets, and the letters from Shaul (Paul) to the newly formed Messianic communities (there was no “church” in the first century) I can read what is in-between the lines: they all suffered much. The Prophets suffered much, as did Moses (emotionally), as did Jeremiah (emotionally and physically), as did David, as did Shaul, as did Kefa (Peter), as did…well, just about every righteous person we read about in the bible experienced suffering. Being righteous in an unrighteous world is asking for Tsouris (Yiddish for “troubles”) and even Yeshua (Jesus) tells us that if we wish to follow Him we must be prepared to carry our own execution stake (Matthew 16:24); Jesus is telling us that to follow Him is no bed of roses, and will, in fact, cause us strife and difficulty.

So if you want to wonder “What if..”, you don’t need to: if what you are going to do is pleasing to God, it will be difficult, you will have troubles, you will have to suffer, emotionally, physically, maybe even both, and you will not like it.

So, you may ask, if doing what pleases God will cause us pain and suffering in the world, why should we do that? The answer is: because it is pleasing to God. Because it is what leads to righteousness, it moves away from sin, it works to bring you closer to God, and in the long run (meaning eternity) it will bring rewards that are so much greater than the level of suffering that the suffering will be forgotten.

In other words, keep your eyes on the prize, look towards the goal, and do not hang your head and see nothing but where your feet are walking. Tunnel vision is a handicap and dangerous when walking. With regards to your spiritual life, having tunnel vision (i.e., looking only at what is directly in front of you and not seeing the end result) is more than dangerous- it can lead to spiritual suicide.

We need to keep walking in God’s will, along the pathway He designed for us, individually and corporately. God’s path is a straight path, it is a narrow path, and we can always see the end. When we walk with our heads hanging down, looking only at each step we take, trusting only in our own ability to walk, we are forced to wonder “What if…” because we can’t see where we are going. People- you can’t see where the path leads when you are only looking at your feet! It’s no wonder that you wonder what will happen with each and every step you take.

Keep your spiritual eyes ahead of you, trust in God, I mean, REALLY trust in God and show Him you trust in Him (as you will also be showing others) by confidently walking in faith. Walk tall, walk securely, walk with confidence that no matter what dangers or trials you will encounter on the road, you know God is there, walking alongside you and guiding you. It’s like the poem about footprints in the sand; trusting in God means walking looking ahead and never questioning or doubting God’s presence and help.

We all want to be like fine gold and pure silver; the good news is that we will be, so long as we continue to walk in God’s will; the bad news is that it can’t happen without going through the furnace. So, Brothers and Sisters, look forward to going through the furnace, and never ask “What if…” because God already knows what will happen, and He always allows whatever happens to work to the good for those that trust in Him and are called in accordance with His word (Romans 8:28): so, be confident, be sure, be faithful.

Living a “What if..” life is living a faithless life.


Can I come to God unclean?

Sometimes when I am starting to pray to God I feel so unclean, spiritually and physically, that I feel unworthy to approach the Lord. Maybe sometimes you feel the same way?

I once read a Rabbinic thought for the reason the Messiah hasn’t come to the Jewish people (remember “mainstream” Judaism doesn’t accept that Yeshua/Jesus is the Messiah God promised) is because we are unworthy, because we are too sinful to receive the Messiah. I tried to find this again, but couldn’t; however, if I am remembering it accurately, then it is such a shame that they just don’t “get it.” Our sinfulness is not what is keeping Messiah away- it is the very reason He has to come!

I mean, think about it- if we have to be sinless to deserve the Messiah, our sinless condition would disqualify His need to come at all.

Truth be told, only when we are unclean can we come to God for cleansing.

We read in Mark 5:25-34 about a woman who had an issuance (some form of bleeding or fluid loss) which made her ceremonially unclean, but was able to come to Yeshua and be healed.

In Matthew 8:3 a man who is unclean comes to Yeshua saying if Yeshua is willing He can cleanse him; Yeshua says He is willing and cleanses the man.

We also read about how Naaman was cleaned of leprosy by bathing in the Jordan because Elijah told him to do so (2 Kings, 5:10) and we read how God cleansed Miriam of leprosy after Moses prayed for Him to heal her (Numbers 12); of course, in this case it was God who caused the leprosy to come upon her as punishment for talking out against Moses, but the fact remains she was unclean and God cleansed her.

The reason Messiah has o come is because we are unclean; and when we are unclean, if we don’t come to God to ask for cleansing, how will we ever be made clean?

Yes, there are ceremonial practices where we wash our body and clothes in water and after sundown we are clean from certain uncleanlinesses (is that a word?), and for other forms of an unclean condition we may need to sacrifice animals, be sprinkled with blood, etc., but still in all, we have to come to the alter to sacrifice to be cleaned; we come to the Cohen (God’s representative) to be inspected and pronounced “clean” before God and the people; there is no other way to come to God for cleansing other than when we are in our state of uncleanliness.

When you see your child all muddy and soiled, you just have to throw that kid in the bath and burn the clothing!  God feels the same way about us when He sees into our hearts and sees the soiled, filthy desires of a sinful nature. He desires to clean us, He wants us to come to Him in any condition we are in. It’s a “Come-as-you-are” salvation that God offers to us, and when we come ready and willing to be cleaned, then God will clean us up. We will still get dirty, and through Messiah we can always be cleaned up again, but because we want to stay clean we will get a lot less dirty than before we did T’shuvah (turning from sin.) Eventually, from a spiritual viewpoint, we won’t look like “Pigpen” from the Charlie Brown comic strip anymore.

Isaiah knew all about our spiritual condition, and said so in no uncertain terms (Isaiah 64:6):

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;

King David, when he asked God to forgive him for his sin with Bat-Sheba, knew about God’s willingness and ability to clean us of our sins (Psalm 51:7-12):

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.  Let me hear joy and gladness;  let the bones you have crushed rejoice.  Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

David, who the bible calls a man after God’s own heart, knew that there is no state of unclean that God cannot make clean.

So if you feel, as I do sometimes, that you are too dirty to come before God, do as I do when I feel that way: remind yourself that God is always willing to clean you up. He has continually cleaned the uncleanable, saved the unsavable, healed the unhealable, and made the filthiest sinner so clean that they shine like silver and are as white as new fallen snow.

Brothers and Sisters, please- never feel you cannot come before God. There is no condition of spiritual or physical being He will reject if you come to Him humbly and honestly: He is always here, within reach, with His hand held out just waiting for you to grab hold of it.

Know when to hold ’em; know when to fold ’em

I read Dear Amy this morning. As I have often mentioned, Dear Abby and Dear Amy provide wonderful fodder for this ministry because the people that write to them are so lost and confused about the relationships in their life, and almost never do I read a letter from a Believing person asking for advice. Maybe, just maybe, that’s because we have a better adviser to ask.

In any event, the letter this morning had to do with someone whose friend is emotionally unstable and despite being close for many years, the writer is concerned about her own health and how dealing with her friend is draining her. She wants to know how to break away without totally closing her friend out.

I feel the same way, often, about family and friends who are not Believers, who desperately need God in their lives, and whom I try to tell about God and about the wonderful peace I receive from knowing Him and having the Ruach Ha Kodesh (Holy Spirit) in my life (despite the sad truth that I often fail to show this peacefulness, I DO have it.)

I try to tell people of God, I bring him up in conversation, even with clients (which is not always appropriate so I am very careful in how I do that) and I throw out my line with a little bait to see what I can catch.

What I do is simply add to the conversation something from the Bible, but I won’t say “The lord tells us this or that”; instead, I will lead off with, “I read this in a really good book about relationships, and the book said…..”. If they ask me the name of the book, then they have taken the bait. After I tell them it’s the Bible, and it was said by (whomever), I will follow up with , “Have you ever read the bible?”

This is an example of how I bring God into the conversation, slowly, deliberately, and with an open-ended aim: all I want to do is plant a seed. That is what the aim of today’s message is about: we need to plant a seed, we need to know when we can “hold ’em” (keep going on with the conversation) and know when to “fold ’em” (let it go if they don’t want to discuss it.)

People don’t like having something jammed down their throats, especially something as exotic tasting as spiritual things. They don’t want to hear that they are wrong in what they say and do, and that most everyone they know (friends, family and acquaintances) have all steered them in the wrong direction. Remember the old adage: birds of a feather flock together. That means people who aren’t “saved” won’t be hanging around with Believers. So, when we start to tell them about God, about the Torah and Yeshua, and what it means to be saved, and what it takes to stay saved, they are hearing the kind of stuff they have been ignoring their whole life.

And they don’t really want to hear it.

It is up to us to be patient, to understand what they are going through. I think the fact that so many Believers have been raised that way, or accepted Messiah at a young age, could make them poor missionaries simply because they can’t relate to what the people are going through when they hear the Good News.  I know what it is like to have people preach the Good News to me before I was saved by it- it was annoying. Because I spent so many years on the “outside”, I know when to hold and when to fold. And because I remember what it was like, I have the patience to allow them to accept what they will and reject what they need to.

And, yes- they NEED to reject what we tell them because if they don’t, they have to admit they have been lied to by everyone they have ever trusted and admired their whole life.

What we need to do is allow them the time they need to process that the people who have misled them have done so innocently, because they, too, were misled by those they trusted and admired. The incorrect teaching of the “Church” goes all the way back to Constantine in the Third Century CE. It’s been going on for quite a while.

When you talk to people about God, remember to say little and watch very, very carefully their response. You need to play your hand well, to watch what they discard and what they pick up, and (ultimately) when to call and when to fold.

Missionary work is not spiritual- it is sales. You have to ask what they feel they are missing, listen to what they think they want and make sure you only tell them what they need to hear, and it all starts with listening. Too often people go out there and just talk talk talk about God, without letting the other person tell them what they feel they need.

David says, in Psalm 38, that we should “taste and see that the Lord is good“; well, when you have something rammed down your throat you don’t get a chance to taste it. We need to let them savor the flavor of salvation, let them smell the steak sizzling on the grill, smell the bread fresh from the oven, let the aroma of peace and joy fill their nostrils to the point where they want more.

And when they ask, that’s the time we can, bite by bite, let them taste more of the Lord.

Most people will not make a leap of faith- they won’t go “all in” right away. They will make small bets, watch their cards and be very wary of the other players.  We need to deal honestly with them (pun intended) and go at their pace, not ours.

Offer, wait, watch, listen, and most important of all, be patient- those are tools you need in your creel when you go fishing for people. Also, know when to cut the line and re-bait your hook.

It’s not how big the fish is, but how many you end up catching.


Empty Joy

David tells us, over and over in the psalms he wrote, that the joy of the Lord is wonderful. When we think of God we think of love, peace, joy and salvation.

It is true that knowing the Lord has given me a sense of peace I never had before, and it is true that I find joy in His word, comfort in trusting faithfulness that His promises are solid and completely trustworthy, and spiritual completion in knowing that I can be a “born again believer” and still be Jewish.

I feel bad for those people that don’t understand that being a Believer is not easy. There are so many people, “born again” people, that I have met along the way who only want to hear about God’s love and compassion. They want to know His Grace, they cry and scream, “I love you, Lord!” But I wonder if they really do. I believe they think they do, but do they, really? If all they know is love and forgiveness, they don’t know all about God. He is all about judgement and punishment, too. He gave us laws and regulations to live by…commandments. His commandments are not a buffet for us to pick and choose which we like and which we don’t, and expect that God will accept us, anyway. His commandments are mandatory, they are what He says we should do and be. If we ignore what God says to do, then we are ignoring God, and that is not the way to get to know Him. You can’t really love someone without knowing all about them- that isn’t love, it’s infatuation. It is superficial, and that is why so many people fall away and keep going from one church to another, one synagogue to another, this week they’re Baptist, next week they’re Episcopalian, and by this time next year they’re probably going to be Methodists. They bounce between religions and places of worship because they only want the surface, they want to hear about the love and compassion and forgiveness, and don’t want to know about the laws, commandments and judgements that come from disobeying.

If God doesn’t judge against those who do not truly do T’Shuva (turning from sin) then we cannot trust His promise of salvation. It’s that easy, and that basic, and (should be) that frightening for those who think they can be loved and forgiven but they don’t have to obey His Torah. God gave us Torah as our guidelines, the way to know right from wrong, and the way He says we should live and worship Him. We all fall short, but how many times do we read in His word that God sees the heart? That means that what we do or don’t do is less important than what we want to be doing. If I sin but in my heart I hate the sin I do and want desperately to sin less, God knows. God also knows if I don’t care about what His Torah says, if I am more than happy to let someone in a religious position of authority tell me I am saved by God’s love and forgiveness, and if in my heart that’s all I want. I don’t want to do as He says, I don’t want to change what I do or what I like, I just want to be loved and forgiven. If that is in my heart, that all I want is God’s forgiveness and don’t want to  do anything He says I must, do you really think that will please God? Do you really think that God will accept me into His salvation if my heart doesn’t care about Him?

Do you really think God is that gullible?  That God doesn’t care if we obey Him or not?

Torah, according to Shaul (Paul), created sin. He said that because without knowing what is right and how God wants us to act (Torah), we can’t know that to disobey those laws and regulations is what God defines as sin. Actions are, in and of themselves, neither right nor wrong- there has to be a comparison, a Yin and a Yang, some rating system to allow us to weigh one against the other.  There is plenty of joyfulness in the world, and plenty of sadness, so we all, whether we are believers, pagans, atheists or whatever, feel joy and sadness.

But to really experience the joy of the Lord, we need to know the Lord. And to know the Lord, we have to know who He is and know all He has done. That’s all in the bible.

I was asked the other day by someone about how Christians could act a certain way. The person thought that arguing against allowing Syrian refugees into the USA was not a “Christian” thing to do. The issue wasn’t really whether Christians should allow refugees in or not- the real issue was that this person didn’t know what being a “Christian” was all about. The assumption this person had was that all “good Christians” should love and forgive and do what they can to help people. I explained that wanting to help others doesn’t mean being a naive idiot and endangering yourself. Yeshua told His disciples to be as gentle as doves and as wise as snakes.

To define a “Christian” person as one who tries to do as God wants is a good definition.  The next step is to understand what God wants so that one can then properly identify a “Believer/Christian” from others.

The only way to know what God wants is to know God; to read the User Manual He gave us through Moshe (Moses), the Prophets, and the writers of the New Covenant Gospels and Epistles. Until you read the bible, and more than just once or twice, you can’t really know anything about God. And if you don’t know anything about God, then you can’t say anything about when someone is a “good Christian” or not.

It’s like trying to identify a good wine from a bad wine- if you don’t know anything about wine, how can you say one is better or worse than another?

That’s why I say the joy people feel when they do not know God is empty- it is not anywhere near what they could feel, if they were able to have the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) fill them with joy.  Not that people who don’t believe in God cannot feel any joy at all- that isn’t what I am trying to say. What I am trying to say (I hope I am succeeding) is that once someone knows the joy we can feel only from God, everything else is substandard and empty.

I have felt God’s joy- I have been brought to tears of joy praying to Him, worshipping Him in song, and often just thinking about what He has done for me. When I watch the testimony I gave years ago (there is a link to it in my bio) I still get wet-eyed because I still feel the joy that came at that moment, when the Ruach HaKodesh entered me.

It was life-changing.

I wish everyone could know the fullness of joy that we can have when we allow God to fill us. What the world offers is dreck, useless and momentary because it is really a false sense of joy. It has the emotional kick of a small firecracker, whereas the joy of the Lord is an atom bomb! There is no comparison.

If you wonder why you aren’t as happy as you think you should be, or you feel you really aren’t happy at all, read the bible, get to know who God is through what He has done, and then make up your mind to accept and embrace Him, according to the way He says we should, or continue to wander through life feeling like there should be more, but never really getting it.

Real joy is here, right in front of you, within grasp, and God’s hand is reaching out to you. You need to reach back.


Hope is a Future Thing

I was rearranging some papers the other day and came upon a book of sermons and Bible teachings I have composed over the years. I couldn’t help but glance through and saw some good stuff in there (of course, it’s from the word of God so how can it be bad?) and thought I might share some now and then with you. Today it’s about hope and faith.}

The past is just that- the past. It can’t be changed and there is no hope for it: the best we can do is learn from it and let go those things that need to be let go of.

The present is just one heartbeat away from being the past. There isn’t that much hope in the present, and the best we can do is pray that we make good decisions as we react to what is happening this very second.

The future is where it’s at! It is wide open, it hasn’t been written and it can be changed. We can plan for the future (although there is the old adage: if you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans) and the idea of what may lay ahead should be exciting.

There are those, however, who fear the future because it is unknown. They worry about what may happen.

Yeshua tells us in Mattitayu 6:25 not to worry about anything because we have no control over it- we can’t even add one hour to our lives. He also reminds us that God cares about every bird that falls to the ground, and He cares even more about us. We are also told that no child of God will go hungry or without a roof over his head, and that God has provided for the birds and the flowers, and He will provide for us, too.

Yet, we still worry. Why is that? Simple: lack of faith. We feel uncomfortable and worry about the future because we are still trying to control things ourselves, and since we don’t know what is coming we can’t control it. We are looking to our own power, not to God, for protection and help.

Romans 5:2 and Galatians 5:5 both talk to us about this. Faith is believing in things unseen and unproven. It was through faith, not through human endeavors, that the Patriarchs survived, that the nation of Israel lived 40 years in a desert, and the people of Judea were saved over and over from the Assyrians and Babylonians; up to the days when they stopped acting in faith. When they deserted their God, and rejected faith in Adonai, they didn’t survive.

Faith is the process by which we receive salvation: First, faith in a God unseen, then faith in His works that are seen, then faith in His justice we see when we are obstinate and reject Him, then faith in His mercy and compassion when we do T’Shuvah, then faith in Yeshua who showed Himself to be the Messiah, then faith in His crucifixion and resurrection, as the sacrifice for all of us that was accepted, and finally faith in the promise of salvation that is possible by that sacrificial death.

As we go through life we need to show this faith, and strengthen it. When you feel concerned about things, remember those times when God rescued you, recount your blessings when you are worried about the future, and remind yourself, daily, to thank God for all that He has done, is doing, and especially for what He has planned for you. God only does what is good for us, even when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, He is there with us, guiding us to the light. He will never forget nor forsake us.

If these things don’t strengthen you and give you hope for the future, then you need a good slap to the side of your head! Get with the program, and don’t you dare profess to be a good, spiritual person, a Believer in the Lord, then show people your fear and trembling. You desecrate the name of the Lord when you do that. You need to stand firm- how many times did God tell His prophets to stand firm, to be iron against the kings of the day? To speak the truth even in the face of public disgrace and anger?

You don’t have to walk around half-naked as Isaiah, or wear a yoke around your neck like Jeremiah did, but you do, if you profess to be a Believer, have to walk around without stooping in fear, you do have to show courage and trust in God, faith in His provision, so you can show the world that being a child of God is the best way to control your future.

That’s what it comes down to- control. Those who want to be in control are doomed from the start, which is why there is so much fear and anger (from frustration) in the world- we want to control that which we can’t. It’s a lose-lose proposition.

But those who trust in God, who give control over to Him, are secure and free from worry because God is the only one who can control the future- to God, the future has already happened, so He already knows exactly what is coming long before it gets to us.

Exercise your faith so that it becomes stronger. Recount your blessing, forgive people, give hope to their hopelessness through your trust in God, remember Psalm 27:1, and fear not.

God gives us a spirit of victory, not of fear, so be victorious.

Remember what Yeshua tells us in Mattitayu 19:26- “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Trust in God, lead by faith, walk fearlessly into the lions den. Daniel survived, and with faith, you will, too!

We Need to Forgive Everyone, but We Need Forgiveness Only From God

When was the last time you visited Psalm 51? That’s what David wrote after being convicted by Natan the Prophet of the sins he committed against Uriah and Bat Sheba. Yet David knew who he really sinned against- God, first and foremost; David said that against God, and God alone, did he sin.

That doesn’t mean David didn’t realize the effect of his actions against these people, but God is the one who gave us the commandments and when we violate even the simplest of these laws, regulations and ordinances, we have sinned against God directly. Even if the actions are directed to another person, it is against God that we have sinned.

So, we ask forgiveness of God, and we should ask forgiveness of the person we have sinned against, too. If that person decides to forgive us, that is good for them.

No, I didn’t get that wrong: when someone forgives us it is good for them because God doesn’t tell us to be forgiven by others, He tells us to be forgiving of others. When we forgive we are doing what is right in God’s eyes. No person can forgive someone their sin- only God can do that. Your act of forgiveness is actually between you and God; likewise, the sin itself is between that person and God. Your forgiveness of others helps you, not them. They have to deal with God for forgiveness on their own.

The one who has sinned needs forgiveness from God- the sin is between the sinner and God. God is the ultimate judge, He is the one who will decide if we get to sit under our own fig tree and enjoy our wine, or if we spend eternity out of His presence, in misery and darkness gnashing our teeth.

Forgiveness is a wonderful remedy for the pain of being sinned against. Truth is, the only way to make the pain go away is to forgive the person who caused it. That isn’t easy to do, but it is the only remedy. Maybe that’s why God commands us to be forgiving? He wants us to be happy and, therefore, He tells us to forgive (so that we can be happy.)

Maybe that’s also why God is so willing to forgive us? It makes Him happy, too, and helps Him to remove the pain of being ignored and rejected by the ones He loves so much (He is much better at it than we are. Thank God for that, right?)

Yeshua tells us to “…seek ye first the kingdom of God,…” when He is talking to the crowds during the Sermon on the Mount. Within the context of this speech He has been talking about our relationships with each other, about leaving our gift at the altar to make reparations with those we have sinned against, about forgiving each other as God forgives us, and that’s when He tells us to not seek things of the world but things of God. The world seeks vengeance, God seeks forgiveness and reconciliation.

When it comes to things of God, forgiveness is definitely near the top of the A-List. Forgiveness is a natural result of loving each other and since Yeshua said the two greatest commandments are to love God and love each other, forgiveness (in my book) comes in at a very close third.

Shaul tells us to run the good race. If we are to run the race well, we need to understand and remember that to love God, love each other, and forgive each other is the Win:Place:Show of the most important race we will ever be part of.

We must forgive others and we should ask for forgiveness from those we have sinned against, but always ask forgiveness from God first and foremost because that is the most important forgiveness there is, and the only forgiveness you need.