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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Focus on the Future

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place he was to receive as an inheritance. He went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he migrated to the land of promise as if it were foreign, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob—fellow heirs of the same promise. For he was waiting for the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. Hebrews 11:8-10

Sometimes we have heard, “You need to stop dreaming about the future and get a job today!” Some of us can’t stop thinking that our true destination in life is just around the corner. Instead of sowing seeds today, we dream only of the harvest. “The one who works his land will have plenty of food, but whoever chases daydreams lacks sense”. Proverbs 12:11

For many of us the opposite is true. Instead of keeping our eyes focused on the eternal calling, we become focused with “today”. Forgetting that the things of this world are only temporal. “The world is passing away along with its desire, but the one who does the will of God abides forever.” 1 John 2:17

Luke, the writer of Hebrews, singled out Abraham and Moses as examples of those who lived their lives by faith in the future. Abraham might’ve been traveling to Canaan, but he knew he was destined for eternal city. “These all died in faith without receiving the things promised—but they saw them and welcomed them from afar, and they confessed that they were strangers and sojourners on the earth. For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If indeed they had been thinking about where they had come from, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they yearn for a better land—that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.

Hebrews 11:13 – 16 And Moses didn’t mind giving up the riches of evil because “he looked at the reward” God planned for him in eternity. “He considered the disgrace of Messiah as greater riches than the treasures of Egypt—because he was looking ahead to the reward.” Hebrews 11:26

Both present and the future are important, but only one will last forever. In fact, our present life is to be lived with our eternal life in mind. “For no one can lay any other foundation than what is already laid—which is Yeshua the Messiah. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear. For the Day will show it, because it is to be revealed by fire; and the fire itself will test each one’s work—what sort it is. If anyone’s work built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss—he himself will be saved, but as through fire. 1 Corinthians 3:11 – 15

Whatever your plans are for today, fulfill them for eternal reasons.

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The Necessity of a Spirit-Filled Life

Whether we live in the 1st century or the 21st, the goal of faith and life in Messiah remains the same, to be born of the Spirit, to be filled with the spirit and to be formed in the spirit.  The “spirit-filled” life is often hijacked by a quick-fix or bless-me centeredness, which has produced confusion about what Spirit-filled, Spirit-formed living is really about.  The filling of the spirit should produce miracles, should produce abundant life, should produce…?  The missing piece could be described as disciplined practices such as, it should…produce a life of prayer, intimacy with God through His Words, a life of awareness in His presences etc.  It is when the power of the spirit in you is connected with your submitted life or disciplined practices that the produce good fruit in your life that can be harvested by those around you.  Abiding in Messiah is about the relationship and the lordship of Yeshua in our lives.  It is about yielding our wants, our desires, or the “whole” of ourselves and becoming a living “Pillar.”

The Revelation 3:12- The one who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the Temple of My God, and he will never leave it. And on him I will write the name of My God and the name of the city of My God—the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God—and My own new Name.

The living “Pillar” is really a principle that is displayed in the life of Shimon Kefa as a committed follower who continues to grow through his weaknesses.  To be committed requires some action to remain in the state of the commitment.  Being a living “Pillar” is not about human failing but rather about the process of overcoming and remaining committed.  Provision for this is in Yeshua Messiah that lifts us up and enables us to walk in deeper spiritual growth and continued hope.

God’s Pillar Principal begins with faith, which gives the confidence in what Yeshua has done for us.  We need not have any doubt,  “4 For everyone born of God overcomes the world. And the victory that has overcome the world is this—our faith.” (1 John 5:4)

This is a promise to us in scripture and it begins with our commitment to God through Yeshua.  Our redeeming experience does not begin and end with our commitment; rather our acceptance of a commitment in Messiah is like a seed that gives us the potential to grow into the likeness of Him.  It is this creative power of the Ruach in this seed that reveals the shaping of who we are as a work of God in our lives.  Yet, this is accomplished only when we yield all of our “raw materials” to the infusion of all of His “refined materials” which brings forth the Pillar that stands in the Temple of God, the workmanship of Messiah, the stability within our frailty.

The spirit-formed follower is one who trusts the work of God being performed in their lives and who remains yielded as they are changed from “glory to glory.”  Be encouraged, this process is cyclical and demands a little more yielding and a little more forming in each season just like a lump of clay upon the potter’s wheel.

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The King Eternal

Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.1 Timothy 1:17

There are 2 eternities in this Scripture. There is a King who reigns eternally; and there is praise that greets Him forever and ever. His praises everlasting!

One of the reasons God promises us eternal life, is so we can offer Him everlasting praise. The Bible teaches: “Before the mountains were born, or You gave birth to the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God!” Psalms 90:2

The picture of the Kedoshim (Holy Ones) in heaven is: “And I heard every creature in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea and everything in them, responding, “To the One seated on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and power forever and ever!”  Revelation 5:13

If we only think in terms of time, our life’s can be miserable. The Bible says that without the reality of the resurrection and the ensuring eternal life, we are the most pitiful of people.   “If we have hoped in Messiah in this life alone, we are to be pitied more than all people.” 1 Corinthians 15:19

Eternity is our inheritance. As we better contemplate the nature of our eternal King, we’ll better cope with attention time. Since we’re going to praise Him forever, why not begin now. Why not start living with eternity in view?

“When He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense—which are the prayers of the kedoshim. And they are singing a new song, saying, “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals. For You were slain, and by Your blood You redeemed for God those from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. You have made them for our God a kingdom and kohanim, and they shall reign upon the earth.” Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders—their number was myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands.

They were chanting with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” And I heard every creature in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea and everything in them, responding, “To the One seated on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and power forever and ever!” And the four living creatures kept saying, “Amen!” And the elders fell down and worshiped.”  Revelation 5:8 – 14

 

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