The Presence of God, the People of God, the Purpose of God

Romans 12:2- 2 Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Why is it that many believers who are filled with the Spirit of God struggle to be transformed in thought and in deed to the life in which the God of the universe has destined them to live; a life of freedom, a life of hope, a life of joy in spite of any and all circumstances?  Why do believers struggle with all the trappings of the world?  Why are broken families as normal in the homes of believers as in the homes of those in the world?  Why do believers who have the power of the almighty God through His Ruach HaKodesh in them remain so powerless and ineffective?  What can be done about this and how can these trends be reversed?

Our “situations” tend to gain complexity as we use worldly solutions to guide us to a life of peace and tranquility.  What the body of Messiah Yeshua has clearly lost is the concept of the Spirit-formed life in Romans 12:2.  Those in the world-wide community of faith in Messiah Yeshua (both Jew and Gentile) are the people of God and what we need to remember is that we are the people of God because God first acted on our behalf.  He is the one who initiated the covenant relationship between us and Him.  It is Yeshua, who provided the way or means by His atoning sacrifice/blood/covering and the
Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) was given to live in us and provides the power in us and through us on our behalf.

However sweet this knowledge is, it is not alone enough to transform us.  What is needed in our knowledge of God is the presence of God and it is this presence that changes us.  As part of the covenant people of God we are given the ability to abide in the Messiah and this abiding is what effects our transformation and conformation.  Yet, before we kill our own transformation by legalistic works, we must realize that it is not the actions that we perform but rather it is being in the presence of God alone that changes us.  This Spirit-formed change is a natural by-product of our relationship with God and our being drawn into His presence is His work in our lives and our goal of real spiritual change.

The power of God in our lives comes from the Ruach HaKodesh and as we yield our lives to and in Messiah, the power of the Ruach becomes evident in us.  However, the yielding is a process for us and as we struggle to yield to the Ruach HaKodesh’s leading and guiding, we find that in Messiah there is no condemnation in this process which produces confidence, life and victory!

Romans 8:1-2- 1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Messiah Yeshua. 2 For the law of the Ruach of life in Messiah Yeshua has set you free from the law of sin and death.

It is in this process that we find that it is only in the presence of God that we are transformed.  This becomes the work of the partnership between the Ruach HaKodesh and us.  As we yield our lives to Him, we are drawn to deeper depths in His presence and we are further transformed.  It is this change of being in God’s presence that does, and will, draw men unto Him.

As you reach to deeper depths in Messiah Yeshua and struggle against the ways of worldly distractions and sin and exchange them for the ways of the Ruach (Spirit) there is an important spiritual equation to grab hold of:  It is the presence of God that makes us (you) into the people of God to accomplish the purposes of God in your life and in the life of others.  Practice the presence!

Matthew 6:33- 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

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God’s Relational Perspective

Exodus 6:7 (TLV)-  “7 I will take you to Myself as a people, and I will be your God…”

Your perspective accounts for much of your action in your life.  As a believer in Messiah Yeshua and thereby a child of the One True God of Israel, you are intended to employ a God given perspective on scripture.  As human beings we tend to let the events of our physical lives dictate our perspectives.  For example, an abused child typically views the world and all relationships through the lens of a victim.  An assaulted woman by a man typically sees men as victimizers and this shadows every relationship she has.  Men define themselves often by what they do for a living and are aimless and listless in a weak economy.  Unfortunately, the brokenness of the world that touches our lives has the potential to darkly shadow our understanding of God’s Word and our relationship with Him.  Our questions then become: how can this be prevented?  How can I live in the world and not become part of it?  How do I correctly understand who God is in the midst of all this worldly pain? Ignoring our pain through a “fleshly faith” inevitably produces powerless results.  The answer comes when we truly understand who God is by what He declares in His Word.  The many statements of “I will be your God and you will be my people” (Jer. 30:22; Ezk. 36:28; Ex. 6:7 etc.) indicates a desire from the one and only Almighty God towards those He is in relationship with.

The desire of God is to have a people and He takes the initiative in this by saying “I will be your God…” As He initiates, His people respond and they become His people, “…you will be my people.”  This is the typical covenant of “if this, than that.”  It is followed by the consummation of the covenant “…I will dwell with you.”  So, we are looking at a covenant between God and His people Israel and the grafted in peoples through faith in Yeshua the Messiah.  The physical implications of this statement in scripture of being set apart unto God, were meant for the people then, and the spiritual implications of this statement in scripture of being set apart unto God are meant for all of God’s people now.  The spiritual implications of this covenant “relational perspective” is to draw God’s created humanity out of places of perceptive death and into places of God ordained life.

So, what are the implications of this covenant?  For the people then, it was to set them apart from physical actions of the nations around them so as not to be like them.  It was to keep them safe and secure within the physical covenant.  For God’s people now, it is to set them apart spiritually from the death of religion and the perspectives of worldly brokenness around them.  Although the people of God are from every tribe, nation and tongue we come under the banner of the saving nature of the sacrifice of Yeshua the Messiah and enter into this new spiritual covenant.  This is where we employ the “relational perspective.”  Because God is our God we are elevated in the greater reality of the Spirit of God and from this perspective we can see God’s ultimate desire for us; to be “our” God and for “we” to be His people.  The greater perspective is that we are forever in covenant relationship with Him where there will be no more tears, no more pain.  Indeed, in the greater reality of the spirit there is now no more tears, no more pain because this work in that reality has been accomplished and it is growing as opposed to our “here and now physical reality,” which is in the process of passing away.  As we realize God’s bigger story or the meta-narrative we can grow in this greater reality by “becoming” as we allow the spirit of the kingdom of God to invade us as we work out our salvation and build our own “becoming” through lives formed in God’s Spirit.

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The Time is Near!

How fortunate is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and those who hear and keep what has been written in it—for the time is near. Revelation 1:3

An economist released a book early this year projecting the collapse of the global monetary system, but in a recent interview he confessed he got something wrong. “Therefore some of these catastrophic outcomes may come sooner than I wrote about.” Other books are being written about the upcoming economic collapse. It may come sooner than we expected! That’s how many Believers feel about world events. Rogue nations are acquiring nuclear weapons. Terrorism is a constant threat. Government surveillance is relentless. Middle East tensions are rising. And morals are collapsing like dominoes.

What a great time to read and study the Bible! When we read the Bible, we are encouraged to see God working through problems in our history. We also are blessed by the promise of Messiah’s return! He is coming shortly. He is coming for us.

If you’re anxious about the state of the world, that’s understandable. But trade your anxiety for the blessing of hearing the words of Scripture, keeping them in faith and obedience and remembering: it’s all about God and Messiah! Anyway Yeshua is coming back! And it could be today!

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Staying Peaceful in an Evil World

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! John 16:33

It is possible to become overwhelmed with all the reports of Islamic terrorists slaughtering so many; while crying out threats against Christians and Jews. Indeed, violence has increased against Believers worldwide. One expert recently called Christian persecution “worldwide human rights disaster of epic proportions.”

The Western world is becoming increasingly secularized in giving over to sin. It is easy to grow discouraged. However, according to Yeshua, discouragement isn’t the correct response. We should maintain our shalom; knowing that Yeshua is our Redeemer. He said, “You may have shalom. In the world you will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world!”

I personally believe that we, here in the United States, are heading for a time of evil turmoil. We need to remain focused on God and the Messiah! Only through the Holy Spirit can we truly hold onto the “peace that passes understanding.” How often have you heard me say: “it’s all about God and the Messiah?” If you make God your reality, everything else will simply be: everything else! Stay focused and be blessed.

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Living on Purpose

LIVING ON PURPOSE

But He said to them, “I must proclaim the Good News of the kingdom of God cf. Dan. 7:14, 27. to the other towns also. It was for this purpose I was sent.” Luke 4:43

In 2005, the Barna Research Group surveyed Pastors and Christian Leaders about the books that influenced them most during the previous 3 years. Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life was the most cited book (apart from the Bible). Warren’s The Purpose Driven Church was the 2nd most often cited. What does it mean that 2 Bible-based books on “purpose” sold tens of millions of copies around the world? At the very least, it suggests that Christians (and others) are interested in discovering how to live life “on purpose.” When we say we did something “on purpose,” it means we did intentionally; it means our actions were no accidents.

“Meanwhile, the disciples were pressing Him, “Rabbi, eat!”  But He said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about. So the disciples were saying to each other, “No one brought Him food to eat, did they? Yeshua tells them, “My food is to do the will of the One who sent Me and to accomplish His work.” John 4:31-34

If we model our life after that of the Messiah Yeshua, we would live our lives as purposefully as He did. Yeshua came into this world with a purpose, a mission from God, and refused to let anything distract Him from that purpose.

As God sent his son Yeshua into the world “on purpose,” so Yeshua has sent us “on purpose” as well. “Yeshua said to them again, “Shalom aleichem! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” John 20:21

Live purposefully, not accidentally, for Messiah today!

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Don’t Bare False Witness

“Do not bear false witness against your neighbor.” Exodus 20:16

There are at least 2 ways to be untruthful about another person. One, it is possible to tell a lie: to say that someone did or said something that they didn’t. The other way is not to tell the truth when you know someone is under a false impression. Staying quiet in the presence of a lie can be as wrong as telling the lie.

“So they took Joseph’s tunic, slaughtered a billy goat, and they dipped the tunic into the blood. Then they sent the long-sleeved tunic, and it was brought to their father, and they said, “We found this. Do you recognize whether or not it is your son’s tunic? He did recognize it and said, “My son’s tunic! An evil animal has devoured him! Joseph must be torn to pieces!” Genesis 37:31-33

Ten of Jacob’s sons, who were also brothers of Joseph, the 11th son, were guilty on both counts. First, they misrepresented what happened to Joseph; they pretended they didn’t know how Joseph’s torn, bloodied coat got that way. They even pretended not to know if the coat was Joseph’s. Then, when Jacob reached the wrong conclusion about Joseph’s fate – that he had been killed by a wild animal – the brothers remained silent, knowing they had sold Joseph, alive and well, to Midianite traders.

You must purpose never to traffic in falsehoods yourself. Also, purpose never to remain silent in the presence of a lie. “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all ways into Messiah, who is the Head.”  Ephesians 4:15

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Crowd Following Failure is Not Your Calling

2 Chronicles 32:10-17 (TLV)- 10 “Thus says King Sennacherib of Assyria, ‘What are you relying on that you would stay in Jerusalem, under siege?  11 Is not Hezekiah misleading you, to let you die by famine and thirst, saying, “Adonai Eloheinu will deliver us from the hand of the king of Assyria?”  12 Has not the same Hezekiah removed His high places and His altars, and commanded Judah and Jerusalem saying, “You shall worship before one altar and upon it you shall burn incense?”  13 Do not you know what I and my fathers have done to all the peoples of the lands?  Were the gods of the nations of the lands ever able to deliver their land out of my hand?  14 Who among all the gods of these nations-which my father’s utterly destroyed-could deliver his people form my hand?  How then is your God able to deliver you from my hand?  15 So now, do not let Hezekiah deceive you or mislead you like this.  Do not believe him, for no god of any nation or any kingdom has been able to deliver his people from my hand and from the hand of my fathers.  How much less will your God deliver you from my hand!”  16 His servants spoke further against Adonai Elohim and against His servant Hezekiah.  17 Sennacharib also wrote letters reviling Adonai, the God of Israel, speaking against Him saying, “Just as the gods of the nations of the lands have not delivered their people from my hand, so the God of Hezekiah shall not deliver His people from my hand.”

Following the crowd is easy to do.  There is extreme pressure to be like everybody else, to have all the same problems that everyone associates with.  One of the things that are common to all man is failure.  In 2 Chronicles 32 it is the officers who are representing Sennacherib King of Assyria (in other words, the world) who are putting pressure on the people God in Jerusalem and King Hezekiah to be like everyone else and just fail.

“On what are you basing your confidence?”  … “Were the gods of those nations ever able to deliver their land from my hand?” … “…no god of any nation or kingdom has been able to deliver his people from my hand or the hand of my predecessors…”

Indeed, Sennacherib’s men succeeded in terrorizing the people and if it were not for the intercession of King Hezekiah King of Judah and the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz the city may have failed, fallen and been captured.

Terror, fear and thereby failure are easy to accept for us because they come to us so naturally.  It does not take any faith, any effort or any action to fail, to fear or be in terror.  In the world, terror and fear is dished out in order to intimidate and win the day.  This worldly approach often works because there is either no real strength and no real power to resist it or those with power and strength to resist decide to remain inactive.  In Messiah Yeshua, we do not need to accept terror or fear because with His presence indwelling us, we are the ones with a super-natural strength and a super-natural power to resist and overcome and it is given to all who believe, obey and abide.

Acts 5:32 (TLV) 32 And we are witnesses of these events-as is the Ruach ha-Kodesh (Holy Spirit), whom God has given to those who obey Him.”

John 15:5 (TLV) 5 “I am the vine; you are the branches.  The one who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for apart from Me, you can do nothing.

We get to decide to enact the power and strength that comes through our faith.  The difference between the faith of the world and those who’s faith is in Yeshua is that faith in Yeshua is not inert. It is not powerless or feckless.  The faith of the world follows the faith of the world into failure albeit eventual sometimes, however faith in God (through Messiah Yeshua) always follows Yeshua into life and God’s success.

2 Chronicles 32:20-21 (TLV) 20 Then King Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz prayed about this and cried out to heaven.  21 Then Adonai sent an angel who annihilated every mighty warrior, commander and officer in the camp of the king of Assyria.  So he withdrew in disgrace to his own land.  When he entered the house of his god some of his own children struck him down with the sword.

2 Chronicles 32 tells of a story of two men who refused to be just like everyone else.  They refused to accept terror, fear and failure and petitioned God, the source of real power and strength to work on their behalf.  How much more will God work on our and your behalf now that we are the dwelling place of the Ruach ha-Kodesh?   Oh yes!  In this life there will be trouble (John 16:33) and we are not always on the “right” side of our issues as we need to refuse to step into our pain and our passions that lead to willful sin and error.  But corporately, and I believe individually as well, we do have the super-natural gifting’s of power and strength through Messiah Yeshua.

Next time you are pressured to follow the crowd into failure and be intimidated by people, events or situations/circumstances, remember you were given super-natural gifting’s when you accepted the gift and responsibility of Yeshua, your salvation.

Romans 8:15 (TLV) 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall again into fear; rather, you received the Ruach of adoption, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”

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Be Still and Wait Patiently

Be still before ADONAI and wait patiently for Him. Do not fret over one prospering in his way, over one carrying out wicked schemes.   Psalms: 37:7

If life is a journey, most of us are racing down the interstate, hitting the brakes in the congestion, overheating our engines, and running out of gas.  Think of this verse (Psalms 37:7) as a winding mountain road with relaxed speeds, glorious overlooks and scant traffic. Now consider this detour is the quickest way to the destination. We can accomplish so much more when we’re relaxed as we trust in the Messiah and wait patiently for Him.

Waiting patiently and being still before Messiah recognizes He is in control; if we let Him be. Your problems are His concern, and His promises are your inheritance. You may have reasons to worry, but you have better reasons not to. The eternal God is your refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms, the Messiah Who knows your needs before you even ask. He is willing to take care of you.

Waiting patiently and being still is the exact opposite of the spirit of our age. But who wants the spirit of this age anyway? Let the Spirit of God fill you with all joy and peace as you wait patiently and be still before the Messiah.

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Live Carefully!

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deluding yourselves.” Jacob’s Letter 1:22

Everyone knows that it’s important to read legal documents before signing. If signed blindly, you may be affected in unforeseen ways. The additional fees and required actions are difficult to get out of once you have signed the agreement. Your signature equals your commitment and approval.

Our actions are the signature to our beliefs. Actions tell us more about our beliefs than our words do. We know the danger of signing blindly. But, do we know the danger of living blindly?

It’s easy to say we believe in being on time, but if we are continually late, our actions prove otherwise. Our actions bind us to our beliefs in the same way that our signature binds us to a legal document. We expect integrity from our leaders; and while you may not see yourself as a leader, each of us has influence. Our actions are witnessed by friends, coworkers, family, and even strangers. Impressions are left. Our influence is either positive or negative. We affect the lives of others through our words, and even more so through our actions. Live carefully.

God has given each of us a sphere of influence. We can either ignore or intentionally use it. What beliefs are your actions undersigning?

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Priorities

Priorities

And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Yeshua the Messiah, the One You sent.” John 17:3

We hear a lot about priorities in life and there are many. Every area of our life: family, work, personal situations – has its own set of priorities. But is there one that stands above all others? It could be said that attaining eternal life is more important than any other goal in life. After all, eternal life was the gift of God “in the beginning”, and it is what was lost to sin. So re-establishing that status could be seen as priority one in our life.

But whatever things were gain to me, these I have considered as loss for the sake of the Messiah. More than that, I consider all things to be loss in comparison to the surpassing value of the knowledge of Messiah Yeshua my Lord. Because of Him I have suffered the loss of all things; and I consider them garbage in order that I might gain Messiah and be found in Him not having my righteousness derived from Torah, but one that is through trusting in Messiah—the righteousness from God based on trust. My aim is to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the sharing of His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death— if somehow I might arrive at the resurrection from among the dead.”  Philippians 3:7-11

Knowing Yeshua as Messiah is where eternal life begins; but by its very definition it never ends. All of our earthly, temporal life should be lived in light of the eternity we possess and the presence of God we anticipate. We should be living now the same way we would live in heaven forever. Is your life taking on more and more of Messiah -like quality every day – becoming less earthly, more eternal?

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