Sukkot

Sukkot

“ADONAI spoke to Moses saying: Speak to Bnei-Yisrael, and say, On the fifteenth day of this seventh month is the Feast of Sukkot for seven days to ADONAI. On the first day there is to be a holy convocation—you are to do no laborious work. For seven days you are to bring an offering by fire to ADONAI. The eighth day will be a holy convocation to you, and you are to bring an offering by fire to ADONAI. It is a solemn assembly—you should do no laborious work. So on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the fruits of the land, you are to keep the Feast of ADONAI for seven days. The first day is to be a Shabbat rest, and the eighth day will also be a Shabbat rest. On the first day you are to take choice fruit of trees, branches of palm trees    , boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook, and rejoice before ADONAI your God for seven days. You are to celebrate it as a festival to ADONAI for seven days in the year. It is a statute forever throughout your generations—you are to celebrate it in the seventh month.”  Leviticus 23:33-36, 39-41

Next week we celebrate Sukkot, Weds. Oct 8, Erev Sukkot, The Feast of Tabernacles. The main focus of this time is joy. In my opinion, Sukkot is one of the most prophetic of the Appointed Times. Here are some samples of the future that is prophesied. “In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, you will have the Passover, a feast of seven days when matzah will be eaten. On that day the prince will prepare a bull as a sin offering for himself and for all the people of the land. He will prepare a burnt offering to ADONAI for the seven days of the feast—seven bulls and seven rams without blemish daily for seven days and a male goat daily for a sin offering. He will prepare as a grain offering, an ephah for a bull, an ephah for a ram and a hin of oil for each ephah. He will do this in the seventh month, on the fifteenth day of the month, during the Feast, for seven days, for sin offering as well as burnt offering, grain offering as well as oil.” Ezekiel 45:21-25

“Then all the survivors from all the nations that attacked Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, ADONAI-Tzva’ot, and to celebrate Sukkot. Furthermore, if any of the nations on earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, ADONAI-Tzva’ot, they will have no rain.” Zechariah 14:16-17

One of the great focuses of this festival is rain. It is a transition in Israel between the dry season and the rainy season. Hence the significance of Hoshana Rabbah! “On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Yeshua stood up and cried out loudly, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture says, ‘out of his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’ Now He said this about the Ruach, whom those who trusted in Him were going to receive; for the Ruach was not yet given, since Yeshua was not yet glorified.  When they heard these words, some of the crowd said, “This man really is the Prophet.” Others were saying, “This is the Messiah.” Still others were saying, “The Messiah doesn’t come from the Galilee, does He? Didn’t the Scripture say that the Messiah comes from the seed of David and from Bethlehem, David’s town? So a division arose in the crowd because of Yeshua. John 7:37-43

So, enjoy this festival. And especially enjoy your relationship with God in the Messiah.

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Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur

“ADONAI spoke to Moses saying: However, the tenth day of this seventh month is Yom Kippur, a holy convocation to you, so you are to afflict yourselves. You are to bring an offering made by fire to ADONAI. You are not to do any kind of work on that set day, for it is Yom Kippur, to make atonement for you before ADONAI your God. For anyone who does not deny himself on that day must be cut off from his people. Anyone who does any kind of work on that day, that person I will destroy from among his people.

You should do no kind of work. It is a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. It is to be a Shabbat of solemn rest for you, and you are to humble your souls. On the ninth day of the month in the evening—from evening until evening—you are to keep your Shabbat.”  Leviticus 23:26-32

Yom-Kippur takes place next week, Friday & Saturday, Oct. 3-4. It is the most revered Holy Day in the Jewish community. Synagogues are filled to capacity with worshipers. Even marginally religious Jews will attend services on this day. It is a day marked by repentance. Rabbinic Judaism teaches: “At this time, when the Temple no longer exists, and we have no atonement altar, nothing is left but repentance. Repentance atones for all transgressions. Even if a man was wicked throughout his life and repented at the end, we must not mention anything about his wickedness to him, as it is written, “You, son of man, say to the children of your people: ‘The righteousness of the righteous person will not deliver him in the day of his transgression. Nor will the wickedness of the wicked person make him stumble in it on the day he turns away from his wickedness. Nor will the righteous person be able to live by it on the day he sins.” (Ezekiel 33:12) Yom Kippur itself atones for those who repent, as it is written, “It is to be a statute to you forever, that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you are to afflict your souls, and do no kind of work—both the native-born and the outsider dwelling among you. For on this day atonement will be made for you, to cleanse you. From all your sins you will be clean before ADONAI.” (Leviticus 16:29-30) Moses Maimonides, Mishneh Torah, Laws of Repentance, 1:3, 2:1, 9–10.

We who are Messianic do not have to wonder whether our repentance has been through and our good works adequate, because our Salvation, finally and forever, rests not on our own performance, but on the finished work of Messiah. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Messiah died for us.  How much more then, having now been set right by His blood, shall we be saved from God’s wrath through Him!” Romans 5:8-9. Salvation is God’s gift to the believing heart. On Yom Kippur we follow Yeshua our Messiah. “But on the other hand, the One who does remain forever has a permanent priesthood. Therefore He is also able to save completely those who draw near to God through Him, always living to make intercession for them.” Hebrews 7:24-26.

As Yeshua intercedes on behalf of the People of Israel, so do we plead with God to forgive, restore and bless our People. May they soon find the truth of Messiah and True Atonement. “I, I am ADONAI—and there is no savior beside Me.” Isaiah 43:11

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Possessing the promises

POSSESSING THE PROMISES

“… through trusting …, received what was promised,”

Messianic Jews 11:33

The Bible is full of promises, but how are they obtained? Can we purchase them like items in the store? Can we earn them like wages in a job? Can we win them like dollars in a lottery? If you have a perplexity in your life presently, there is surely a promise in the Bible that would meet your need. If you’re worried about the future, there is a word from God to give you confidence. But how do you occupy that promise?

Through trusting! Through faith! It’s like Salvation. Messiah has already purchased what we need and it’s available by grace. Our job is to receive it by faith, which means trusting Him to do just as He has said. God has given us the gift of faith that we can take what’s unseen and make it a part of who we are.

Messianic Jews 11 gives a lot of examples of that.

“What more should I say? There isn’t time to tell about Gid’on, Barak, Shimshon, Yiftach, David, Sh’mu’el and the prophets; who, through trusting, conquered kingdoms, worked righteousness, received what was promised, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, had their weakness turned to strength, grew mighty in battle and routed foreign armies.  Women received back their dead resurrected; other people were stretched on the rack and beaten to death, refusing to be ransomed, so that they would gain a better resurrection. Others underwent the trials of being mocked and whipped, then chained and imprisoned. They were stoned, sawed in two, murdered by the sword; they went about clothed in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted, mistreated, wandering about in deserts and mountains, living in caves and holes in the ground! The world was not worthy of them! All of these had their merit attested because of their trusting. Nevertheless, they did not receive what had been promised, because God had planned something better that would involve us, so that only with us would they be brought to the goal. Messianic Jews: 11:32-40

Abraham didn’t know where he was going, or how to find the land promised him, but he took every forward footstep with the assurance that God could and would unerringly guide him. We can do the same and through trust obtain the promises. But you must move, when He says move.

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Moadim (The Appointed Times)

Moadim (The Appointed Times)

 God called the light “day,” and the darkness He called “night.” Genesis 1:5

G-d created time.  The natural beauty of the world declares the glory of G-d.  “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky shows His handiwork.” Psalms 19:1.  G-d’s will is that we follow His directions.  “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:10.  The High Holy Days are a part of G-d’s plans for us as community.  “Speak to Bnei-Yisrael, and tell them: These are the appointed moadim of ADONAI, which you are to proclaim to be holy convocations—My moadim (designated times).”  Leviticus 23:2.  The High Holy Days should not be viewed from our perspective as having to do with our performance.  As we all know “it’s all about G-d and the Messiah”, so we approach this season in His freedom and love.  G-d is the Lord of time, since He created it.  He knows best how we should use our time.  “Make the most of your time because the days are evil.”

Ephesians 5:16.

It is imperative that we come into the High Holy Days with an attitude of appreciation and freedom that we have in the Messiah.  “Therefore, do not let anyone pass judgment on you in matters of food or drink, or in respect to a festival or new moon or Shabbat. These are a foreshadowing of things to come, but the reality is Messiah” Colossians 2:16-17.  It is appropriate, therefore, that we celebrate these festivals in a way that is consistent with our Messianic faith and exalts the Person of Yeshua.  The Moadim (Appointed Times) all find their fulfillment in Messiah.  “Do not think that I came to abolish the Torah or the Prophets! I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill.   Amen, I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or serif shall ever pass away from the Torah until all things come to pass.”  Matthew 5:17.

G-d’s Moadim (Appointed Times) remind us that He is Lord of the calendar, the King of creation, and that He is to be worshiped every day.  G-d’s Appointed Times have a great deal to teach all who have crowned Him Lord of their lives.

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How do you handle money?

HOW DO YOU HANDLE MONEY?

“Do not store up for yourselves wealth here on earth, where moths and rust destroy, and burglars break in and steal. Instead, store up for yourselves wealth in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and burglars do not break in or steal. For where your wealth is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21

 In 2009, discussions began between Bill and Melinda Gates with Warren Buffet, among the world’s richest people, about what to do with their vast billions when they die. The results of those discussions is “The Giving Pledge” – an international efforts to encourage the world’s wealthiest people to give away at least half of their wealth to philanthropic or charitable causes. So far, 114 billionaires have signed The Giving Pledge.

 There is much to commend about the efforts of wealthy people to be generous. But the most basic reason to make giving decision is because, as the saying goes:  “You can’t take it with you.” Everything we have had, now have, or will have will remain on earth after we die. “And he gave them this illustration: “There was a man whose land was very productive. He debated with himself, `What should I do? I haven’t enough room for all my crops.’ Then he said, `This is what I will do: I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and I’ll store all my wheat and other goods there. Then I’ll say to myself, “You’re a lucky man! You have a big supply of goods laid up that will last many years. Start taking it easy! Eat! Drink! Enjoy yourself!”‘  But God said to him, `You fool! This very night you will die! And the things you prepared — whose will they be?” Luke 12:16-20. The Bible is clear about the differences between laying up our treasures here and laying them up in heaven. Treasures acquired on earth can provide returns for eternity only if they are invested for the glory of God now.

How do you handle your finances? Invest them now to bear eternal fruit forever. Learn to trust God’s Instructions.

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Life Happens!

LIFE HAPPENS!

“Furthermore, we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of thosewho love God and are called in accordance with his purpose.” Romans 8:28

 We are used to hearing people say, “I did what I thought was best.” Even if a person’s actions didn’t produce the desired outcome, we emphasize with them because we’ve been there ourselves. Faced with the decision, we gather our facts, seek advice, way the pros and cons, and then finally make a decision. Because we are imperfect, it’s hard for us to imagine someone choosing and acting perfectly. It’s hard to imagine someone with a sovereign will whose decisions are always right and for the good.

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Who needs you?

Who needs you?

 Philippians 2:3-5- 3 Do nothing out of rivalry or vanity; but, in humility, regard each other as better than yourselves - 4 look out for each other’s interests and not just for your own. 5 Let your attitude toward one another be governed by your being in union with the Messiah Yeshua: 6 Though he was in the form of God, he did not regard equality with God something to be possessed by force.

It is pretty humbling to realize that each of us has been placed in the lives of others who need us.  If someone is in your life, then they have been placed in your life specifically because they need you.  At times people in your life will need your goodness, your patience or your tenderness.  Sometimes you will hold information or the keys to a problem that they need to solve or you may have resources, financial or otherwise that you can use to help.  People in your life may need encouragement from you or even truth spoken into their life circumstances or a spirit lead prayer.

It is important to be lead by the Holy Spirit when interacting with people in your life.  This is why we need to put down attitudes of vanity and rivalry within ourselves and be lead by our union with Messiah Yeshua.  Messiah Yeshua knew what we needed and He sacrificed himself so that we could have the atonement for our mis-deeds and sin.

We are encouraged in the book of Phillipians to provide for the needs of others.  These needs are not just physical but include intangible needs as well.  We truly become servants of Messiah as we become servants to one another.  As we serve each other, we become more like Yeshua as our service to one other causes us to emulate Him.

Listen to the Holy Spirit in your relationships and be quick to offer your resources, information and knowledge, encouraging words and a smile, a note, phone call or just some time with you.  You have much to offer one another because of Messiah Yeshua in you.  Focus on God and Messiah and He will let you know how you can serve the people in your life.  Don’t delay, bless each other today!

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Gods will, your love, your reward

1 Corinthians 10:13- 13 No temptation has seized you beyond what people normally experience, and God can be trusted not to allow you to be tempted beyond what you can bear. On the contrary, along with the temptation he will also provide the way out, so that you will be able to endure.

Have you ever considered that this verse is not just or not only talking about what we consider to be the “big sins” in our lives? What about the everyday tasks (how we conduct our lives and treat others) that we are given through the scripture and the promptings of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) that we often so promptly ignore? It is sin to ignore the Holy Spirit but it tends to be sin that we most certainly discount. For example: What about the stranded motorist we could help out, the words of encouragement we could give, the monetary gifts we could offer, the time set aside when the Holy Spirit calls us to read or study Gods words or any act of kindness we are lead to give. When it comes to doing the will of God it can be difficult to put our comfort level aside and complete the work.

The Bible tells us that we me must put our comfort levels or flesh to death:

Galatians 5:24- 24 Moreover, those who belong to the Messiah Yeshua have put their old nature to death on the stake, along with its passions and desires.

If fulfilling Gods will was easy, Rav Shaul (The Apostle Paul) would not have needed to express that it is like putting our old nature to death. Yet, it is not impossible:

Mattityahu (Matthew) 19:26- 26 Yeshua looked at them and said, “Humanly, this is impossible; but with God everything is possible.”

The statement here is that “with God all things are possible” which not only includes a salvation experience but also includes following Gods will and putting the flesh to death.

I heard a saying once: “just because something is difficult does not mean it is not worth doing.”

If doing Gods will was or is easy, what credit is that to you? But, it is these works that have been prepared in advance for us to do that display our faith:

Ephesians 2:10- 10 For we are of God’s making, created in union with the Messiah Yeshua for a life of good actions already prepared by God for us to do.

Expose the depth of our relationship:

Mark 12:29-31- 29 Yeshua answered, “The most important is, `Sh’ma Yisra’el, ADONAI Eloheinu, ADONAI echad [Hear, O Isra'el, the LORD our God, the LORD is one], 30 and you are to love ADONAI your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your understanding and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: `You are to love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other mitzvah greater than these.”

Causes man to rejoice and be drawn into a relationship with God:

Peter 2:12- 12 but to live such good lives among the pagans that even though they now speak against you as evildoers, they will, as a result of seeing your good actions, give glory to God on the Day of his coming.

And positions us to receive heavenly rewards:

Mattityahu (Matthew 25:21)- 21 His master said to him, `Excellent! You are a good and trustworthy servant. You have been faithful with a small amount, so I will put you in charge of a large amount. Come and join in your master’s happiness!’

When Gods will is difficult for us, we have an opportunity to show to ourselves the depth of love we have for Him when we obediently comply. God will reward you for every pre-ordained task you overcome to complete. Find joy in all your adversities whether it is overcoming sin, completing an act of kindness or conquering a difficult task. You have joy in knowing the depth of your love for God and that God is a rewarder of those who seek Him.

Messianic Jews (Hebrews) 11:6- 6 And without trusting, it is impossible to be well pleasing to God, because whoever approaches him must trust that he does exist and that he becomes a Rewarder to those who seek him out.

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Who says you need an appointment?

Who says you need an appointment?

You may have heard it said that it is good to set and keep appointments with God.  To be sure, God does make appointments with us such as Shabbat, the high holy days etc.  But what about appointments for prayer?  Is it really sound in practice to make set times for prayer?  It depends on how you approach God.  Do you approach God in a religious form or do you approach him in a relational form.  During the times of the temple, prayer times were established for the Morning (Shacharis), Noon (Minchah), and Evening (Maariv) and these times or appointments continue today.  It is by no means wrong or an error in keeping these times but if you look at how these prayers are spaced and structured they reveal God’s plan for His children; God’s plan for you in prayer is not the short bursts of communication wrapped in specified time frames, but rather a continuous communication between a loving father and His child(ren).

1 Thessalonians 5:17 says to “pray continually”.  What is interesting about this verse is its location.  Beginning with verse 16 the passage reads like this:

1 Thessalonians 5:16-24- 16 Always be joyful.  17 Pray regularly.  18 In everything give thanks, for this is what God wants from you who are united with the Messiah Yeshua.  19 Don’t quench the Spirit, 20 don’t despise inspired messages.  21 But do test everything – hold onto what is good, 22 but keep away from every form of evil.  23 May the God of shalom make you completely holy – may your entire spirit, soul and body be kept blameless for the coming of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah.  24 The one calling you is faithful, and he will do it.

The Complete Jewish Bible translates verse 17 out as “Pray regularly” but the Greek word means to pray without interruption or continually or unceasing.  Yes, there are times and even appointed times when we should pray the scripture or pray crafted prayer or pray a specific petition or request but these should be accomplished within a lifestyle or a relationship of prayer and not apart from it.

1 Thessalonians 5, says to pray continually without interruption.  So, if you look at the passage in context we can see how this continual/relational prayer works on our behalf:

Pray continually and in everything give thanks.  By praying continually you stay relationally connected to the spirit of God and He is free to move through you and you are free to speak His inspired messages and the spirit is not quenched by you.  Relational or continual prayer helps to keep you chasing after the good that God has set before you, and strengthens you to resist the evil that fleshly desires bring into our path.

The design of this continual prayer is that it is to keeps us in a state of intimate relationship with the loving Father.  It is a gift that is given to all believers in Messiah Yeshua, Jew and gentile alike and it helps us to walk out our salvation and brings us to complete holiness and keeps us blameless for the day when the Messiah Yeshua returns.

Appointed times of prayer or prayer appointments can benefit us tremendously but it is the continual / relational prayer that we have with the heavenly father that produces the will of God in our lives because it changes us…being in God’s presence always does…

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Unending Prayer in God’s presence

Psalm 65:2- “You who listen to prayer, to you all living creatures come.”

 Prayer is the way you talk to God and it is through prayer that you connect with God.  Prayer is the communication from our heart and it can be couched in song, words or tears.

 Luke 6:45- 45 The good person produces good things from the store of good in his heart, while the evil person produces evil things from the store of evil in his heart. For his mouth speaks what overflows from his heart.

 Our prayers that pass our lips is the expression that comes from our heart.  If we listen to our prayers carefully we can begin to get an idea of what is in our heart and if our heart is in line with the will of God.  God does not delight in doing our will, it is we who delight in doing His will.  When we pray in conjunction with God’s will; we sense His presence.  Do you feel distant from God?  Do not wait until you “feel” close to Him.  The Bible tells us what God’s will is, praying the scriptures when we “feel” distant will lift us up into His presence where our feelings of unworthiness are washed away because our focus becomes His righteousness, His holiness, His work, His will.  This is why we never need to wait to be worthy or to feel worthy to come to Him.  It is easier to pray when your heart is full during a worship service but it can be another experience altogether when the brokenness of the world and our wrong attitudes toward sin completely drain our hearts empty.  However, this is when it is especially important to pray.  Do not worry that you may have times when you may falter in prayer.  Where you are now is all that matters.  Sometimes our thoughts or opposing spiritual forces speak to you and tell you that you are not worthy to go to God in prayer.  You may have stumbled yesterday and you may stumble tomorrow but God is God of all your days and each day is a day made for you to enter and be led by His presence.  Through Messiah Yeshua, God has delivered you and He wants to elevate you above the world’s brokenness and sin onto the path of His good and perfect will.  Pray for guidance and wisdom from the creator of the universe and thrust yourself upon Him for His mercy and His grace for all spiritual and material blessings appointed unto you so you may perform His will without impedance.

The mechanics of your prayer may be different each time, but you should pray with every breath, every movement, every thing deep inside of you and every thing on your surface.  Pray with your emotions and your reason.  The power of this kind of prayer will lead you into joy, fulfillment and a deeper understanding of your relationship with the Lord of Lords and the King of Kings.  This is practicing the presence and will lead you to prayer that is unending.  Every conversation you have can be elevated by your understanding of continual, unceasing prayer.  Every thing you think and do can have its root in your continual prayer to God and your actions and prayers will begin to line up with Gods will as you exist in His presence.

Do not wait, start your unceasing prayer today!

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