Avoiding the Wrong Spirit

But every spirit that does not acknowledge Yeshua is not from God. This is the spirit of the anti-messiah, which you have heard is coming and now is already in the world.  1 John 4:3

We often hear different concepts of “spirit”; school spirit, Spirit of America, Olympic spirit, and others. While it’s difficult to define “spirit of”, often means attitudes and behaviors consistent with the season or event being described. “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world—the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, and the boasting of life—is not from the Father but from the world. The world is passing away along with its desire, but the one who does the will of God abides forever. Children, it is the last hour. Just as you heard that the anti-messiah is coming, even now many anti-messiahs have come—by this we know that it is the last hour. They left us, but they didn’t really belong to us. If they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us. But they left us so it became clear that none of them belongs to us.”  1 John 2:15 – 19

John gave us insight toward diabolical spirit: “the spirit of anti-Messiah.” Saying that spirit was already at work, empowering those who denied that the Messiah Yeshua had come in the flesh as a human man; Son of God and the Son of Man. The spirit of the anti-Messiah would be any attitude, behavior, or teaching, that is blatantly against or subtly counterfeiting the true Messiah. There is no reason to suspect that spirit of anti-Messiah was limited to the 1st century. Simply look around today at the number of ways Messiah Yeshua is being opposed or misrepresented in our culture.

It is our responsibility to know Yeshua and His teaching well enough to immediately recognize “the spirit of anti-Messiah.”

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Come to Me

“Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”  Matthew 11:28

G-d means for us to live a fully absorbed life in Messiah Yeshua, but there are times when that life is attacked from the outside, and we stumble into ways of introspection which we thought we had previously left behind. Self-consciousness is the first thing that will upset the completeness of our life in G-d, and self-consciousness continually produces wrestling. Self-consciousness is not sin; it may be produced by a nervous temperament or by a sudden confrontation with new circumstances. It is never G-d’s will that we should be anything less than absolutely complete in Him. Anything that disturbs rest in Him must be cured at once, and it is not cured by being ignored, but by coming to Yeshua our Messiah. If we come to Him and ask Him to produce G-d consciousness, He will always do it until we learn to abide in Him.

Never allow the dividing up of your life in Messiah to remain without facing it. Beware of slippage, of the dividing up of your life by the influence of friends or of circumstances; beware of anything that is going to split up your oneness with Him and make you see yourself separately. Nothing is so important as to keep right spiritually. The great solution is a simple one – “Come to Me.” The depth of our reality is tested, intellectually, morally and spiritually, by these words. In every degree in which we are not real, we will dispute rather than come to Him.

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Our Helper

Happy is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in Adonai his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, who keeps truth forever, who executes justice for the oppressed, who gives bread to the hungry. Adonai sets the prisoners free. Adonai opens the eyes of the blind. Adonai raises up those who are bowed down. Adonai loves the righteous.  Psalm 146:5 – 8

Can you help me? Our natural response to challenges is to react in our own strength. We think and try to strategize our way to a solution. When that fails, we often turn to others. Have you ever experienced this? What did you do?

While these methods sometimes work, we have forgotten the most powerful truth. True wisdom and help comes from God. We are struggling to trust God’s insight and sovereignty; we need to spend more time in His creation. The intricate details and creative coloring of each plant and creature points to God’s power.

Instead of turning to God as an afterthought, we can start with Him. We are His creation and He knows what we need. God knows more about us and our situation than any other being, including ourselves. He’s the only one who can control the outcome. When we realize this, we will seek His expertise and help first. We need to surrender ourselves and our situation to His expertise. We can gain hope and confidence by knowing that He is with us and that He loves to help us.

“Adonai is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for His Name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me: Your rod and Your staff comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You have anointed my head with oil, my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the House of Adonai forever.”  Psalm 23

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Credibility Gaps

He was fully convinced that what God has promised, He also is able to do. Romans 4:21

In this political season, we are hearing many campaign promises. As usual, nobody holds their breath to see if any politician will keep his or her promises. However, we still kind of hope that the one that we support will be different and promises will be kept. Knowing there is a serious credibility gap ingrained in politicians.

God is different. His promises are sure. No matter how many promises He has made, each one is more certain than the sunrise, more enduring than the highest mountain, more abiding the deepest sea. Think about Abraham. “For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Romans 4:3

Whenever we are tempted to doubt, or lose focus in darkness, we can find a promise in Scripture and cling to it in faith. God is pleased with that. He is faithful. He will always do as He has said. There is no credibility gap in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Let’s focus on having no credibility gap in ourselves. Trust God and live for and through Him. Live carefully and faithfully. It’s all about God and the Messiah!

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Counting the Omer

Counting the Omer

 “Then you are to count from the morrow after the Shabbat, from the day that you brought the omer of the wave offering, seven complete Shabbatot. Until the morrow after the seventh Shabbat you are to count fifty days, and then present a new grain offering to Adonai. You are to bring out of your houses two loaves of bread for a wave offering, made of two tenths of an ephah of fine flour. They are to be baked with hametz as firstfruits to Adonai.  Leviticus 23:15-17

“You are to make a proclamation on the same day that there is to be a holy convocation, and you shall do no regular work. This is a statute forever in all your dwellings throughout your generations.” Leviticus 23:21

The tradition of counting 50 days to the day after a Sabbath is divided into two different traditions. The mainline tradition today comes from the Pharisees who believe the counting should begin on the 16th of Nissan. They do this because they consider the day of Passover on the 15th is the Sabbath. The other tradition believes that the Sabbath in this instruction concerns to the weekly Sabbath. Beth Messiah uses this second tradition that puts us in a minority of those who bother to count as instructed. I want you to understand why we do it this way.

Very simply, if we always start counting on the 16th of Nissan, then Shavuot would always fall on the 6th of Sivan. All of the other appointed times have a specific date in the Bible. If God wanted it to fall on a specific date, why would we have to count 50 days? Tradition says we count because He told us to. Interestingly if you look at your calendar you will see that Passover begins Friday evening this year. Therefore, both traditions will be counted the same way. “Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath”. If we count from the weekly Sabbath, (which is the day of Passover this year) Shavuot would fall on the first day of the week, which we call Sunday. I believe that fits better in the instruction given to us. However, if Passover would fall on another day of the week, it would put us in a small minority. I wanted to share why we do it as a Synagogue differently than most others in our Jewish Community whenever Passover falls on a different day. I hope this helps you out.

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Tribulation

Do not be lagging in zeal; be fervent in spirit. Keep serving the Lord, rejoicing in hope, enduring in distress, persisting in prayer.  Romans 12:11 – 12

Archaeologist in the Mideast world have discovered many examples of a farming implement called a tribulum, which was a sort of a sled with a sharp flint or stones embedded on the underside. As it was dragged over harvested wheat, its sharp stones rub the seed from the pods and chop the straw into chaff. From this comes our word “tribulation” – being raked by the sharp troubles of life.

This word appears often in the Bible; often interpreted different ways in an English language Bible. For example: Matthew 24:21

“For then there will be great trouble, such as has not happened since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. Speaking of the coming destruction of the Temple.

Acts 14:22 “They were strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to persevere in faith, and saying, “It is through many persecutions that we must enter the kingdom of God.”

Romans 5:3 3 “And not only that, but we also boast in suffering—knowing that suffering produces perseverance;”

Romans 8:35 “Who shall separate us from the love of Messiah? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?” If you feel you’re going through very difficult times, be patient and trust. It is because we live in a broken world. But the Bible teaches us that such things are normal to go through.

John 16:33 “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have shalom. In the world you will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world!” All you have to do is overcome!

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Joy to the World!

Shout joyfully to Adonai, all the earth. Break forth, sing for joy, and sing praises. Psalm 98:4

It might surprise you to know that when Isaac Watts wrote “Joy to the World,” he wasn’t thinking anything about Christmas. He had been studying Psalm 98. He was focusing on the 2nd coming.

Read carefully this beautiful Psalm 98

“Sing to Adonai a new song, for He has done marvelous things. His right hand and His holy arm have won victory for Him.

Adonai has made His salvation known. He has revealed His righteousness before the eyes of the nations. He has remembered His lovingkindness, His faithfulness to the house of Israel. All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God. Shout joyfully to Adonai, all the earth. Break forth, sing for joy, and sing praises. Sing praises to Adonai with the harp, with the harp and a voice of melody. With trumpets and sound of the shofar blast a sound before the King, Adonai. Let the sea roar and all within it, the world and those who dwell in it. Let the rivers clap their hands, let the mountains sing for joy together— before Adonai, for He is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness and the peoples with fairness.”

Isaiah 11:6-9  “The wolf will dwell with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the kid, the calf and the young lion and the yearling together, and a little child will lead them. The cow and the bear will graze, their young ones lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like an ox. A nursing child will play by a cobra’s hole, and a weaned child will put his hand into a viper’s den. They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of Adonai, as the waters cover the sea.”

When we now hear of wars and rumors of war, and we despair over the brokenness of society, and when you worry about global issues, remember: He is coming back to make His blessings flow as far as the curse is found! A joy to the world!

 

 

 

 

 

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Remember the Sabbath

So the heavens and the earth were completed along with their entire array. God completed—on the seventh day—His work that He made, and He ceased—on the seventh day—from all His work that He made. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, for on it He ceased from all His work that God created for the purpose of preparing. Genesis 2:1 – 3

Have you ever considered that on the 7th day God rested; even though He wasn’t tired. He looked on what He had made and delighted in it and He commanded us to do the same.

At Sabbath rest we don’t simply rest our body; although that is important. Also, we don’t primarily rest our emotions; although it would be wise to discover such a rest on our Sabbaths. Instead, it is a remembrance. Moses writes: “Six days you are to labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Shabbat to Adonai your God. In it you are not to do any work—not you or your son or your daughter, or your slave or your maid, or your ox, your donkey or any of your livestock or the outsider within your gates, so that your slave and your maid may rest as you do. You must remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and Adonai your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore Adonai your God commanded you to keep Yom Shabbat.” Deuteronomy 5:13 – 15

The same God who rescued us from our slavery in Egypt is the same One who rescues us from bondage to sin. Remember.

On Sabbath, we suspend our own dominion work and instead worship the dominion Maker. We cease reaping for own cupboards and instead bring an offering to Him. Like Him, we rest, not because we are tired. We don’t cease our labor because it is finished. We don’t worship because now there are grapes on the vine and cattle in the stalls. We rest and worship one day in the 7 simply because He is our Lord.

Remembering, worshiping and resting are acts of contemplation. Many of us have not developed practical theology of contemplation nor a practical theology of rest. The Sabbath rest is an opportunity for contemplation, and opportunity to remember our roots, a time to focus completely on God.

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Personal Encounter

God said to him: “Your name was Jacob. No longer will your name be Jacob, for your name will be Israel.” So He named him Israel. God also said to him: “I am El Shaddai. Be fruitful and multiply. A nation and an assembly of nations will come from you. From your loins will come forth kings. Genesis 35:10-11

Our loving God has saved out many who had carnality and rebellion into a life of spiritual maturity. God will use all means necessary to transform us into the image of Messiah.

“Now we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters”. Romans 8:28 – 29

Who would’ve thought that, in his younger days, a scheming man like Jacob would become the father of 12 sons from whom would arise the multitudes of the nation of Israel? And yet that is what God did through a painful personal encounter with Jacob. “So Jacob named the place Peniel, “for I’ve seen God face to face, and my life has been spared.” Now the sun rose upon him just as he crossed by Peniel—limping because of his hip”. Genesis 32:22 – 30 God wants to do whatever it takes to conform us into the image of Yeshua; even a loss to experience pain and live with reminders of our “personal encounters” with Him.

Let God have His ways in your life today. The sooner we say “Yes, Lord” to Him, the sooner we become like Him. Stop being rebellious and turn to Him.

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Our Mediator

For there is one God and there is one Mediator between God and men—a human, Messiah Yeshua. 1Timothy 2:5

“Mom! He hit me!” As children we often ran to our parents when a disagreement broke out between us. Sometimes our parents would tell us to sort it out ourselves, other times they would step in as a mediator, helping us mend our relationship with one another.

When sin entered the world and the relationship between God and man was broken, man had no one to mediate and mend his relationship with God. Only one who was both deity and human could bridge the gap between man and God. We were stuck, unable to renew our relationship with God.

Aware of our inability to rectify our relationship to Himself, God chose and appointed a Mediator. He sent His Son, Yeshua, to earth, to become our Savior and Mediator and pay the penalty for our sins. When we believe in Him, the Messiah, our relationship with God is healed in our future destination is secured. Through Messiah we can have an intimate relationship with God on earth and throughout eternity.

Yeshua stands between us and God, and for that very reason He stands between us and all other men and things. He is our Mediator. God takes this seriously. Do you?

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