Praise is an action for purpose – Rabbi Jeff

Praise is an action for a purpose

In our modern day (and I can only speak from this American’s perspective), the praise of God has been relegated primarily to our religious institutions on whatever specific day we gather to worship and praise Him.  It also has become more of an activity of spectators, a concert if you will of melodies and harmonies and some profound poetry, albeit not necessarily biblically accurate or sound and of technical wonders and choreographed movement.  We tend to sing about God and not too God and we do this perhaps because we think that our praise of God is more about how we feel than what He can do.  When we sing about God, we sing about his faithfulness to us, his mercy to us, his goodness to us, his salvation to us; his love to us.  In other words, we sing about him and focus on what it does for us.  But the focus of heaven is different:

Revelation 4:8- 8 Each of the four living beings had six wings and was covered with eyes inside and out; and day and night they never stop saying, “Holy, holy, holy is ADONAI, God of heaven’s armies the One who was, who is and who is coming!”

Heaven’s focus seems to be on God not about God and this is for a purpose.  The will and power of God is released when He is praised.

Matthew 6:10- 10 May your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as in heaven.

II Chronicles 20 gives us an example of this amazing tool in our arsenal and the forces of darkness called praise.  In the beginning verses we see that the enemies of Judah are rising up against them and the people cry out for God’s help and He assures them that the battle will be their’s if they take their position.

II Chronicles 20:17- 17You won’t even need to fight this battle! Just take your positions, Y’hudah and Yerushalayim, stand still, and watch how ADONAI will deliver you! Don’t be afraid or distressed; tomorrow, go out against them; for ADONAI is with you.’”

What we see next is quite astounding if we will only pay attention and heed the action.

II Chronicles 20:18-19  – 18 Y’hoshafat bowed his head with his face to the ground; while all Y’hudah and the inhabitants of Yerushalayim fell down before ADONAI, worshipping ADONAI; 19and the L’vi’im from the descendants of the K’hati and the descendants of the Korchi, stood up and praised ADONAI the God of Isra’el at the top of their voices.

The leadership and the people humbled themselves before Adonai and worshipped him actively.  The Levites stood up and praised Adonai actively at the top of their voices.  Later the scripture tells us that they were delivered from their enemies during the time of their praise.  Praise that is focused on God and is active releases the supernatural power of God to defeat the enemy of our mind, body, soul and spirit.  But praise is more than a mental ascent of acceptance.  It is more than merely feeling good about the God whom we serve.  Praise is not leaving a religious service or concert and saying:  “wow, the praise was just awesome!”  In my opinion, praise is not awesome (or has even occurred) until the power of God shows up, hearts and lives are changed, relationships are supernaturally restored, spiritual chains are broken, spiritual prisons are open and the physical and spiritual lives of God’s people are healed.  This is and is the result of praise.

 Acts 16:23-26- 23 After giving them a severe beating, they threw them in prison, charging the jailer to guard them securely. 24 Upon receiving such an order, he threw them into the inner cell and clamped their feet securely between heavy blocks of wood. 25Around midnight, Sha’ul and Sila were praying and singing hymns to God, while the other prisoners listened attentively. 26 Suddenly there was a violent earthquake which shook the prison to its foundations. All the doors flew open and everyone’s chains came loose.

Sha’ul and Sila found themselves in prison because they spoke of the way of salvation in Messiah Yeshua.  I do not think that it was their plan to praise in order to gain freedom or even to set other captives free.  What I do believe is that their praise was completely and totally focused on God and as a natural by-product; God’s will was released on earth as it was in heaven and the supernatural happened for them all.  I am not sure how much physical movement that Sha’ul and Sila had in prison but I am confident that their praise was active.  God desires to have His power flow through those who are His children in Messiah Yeshua.

Do you seek this power?  One step closer to the power of God is to “get your praise on.”   We must engage this conduit of supernatural flow with praise both physically and spiritually.  God’s power affects the physical and the spiritual and our praise has a physical and a spiritual component that releases the power.  The other day I was able to observe a group of middle school students who were practicing a praise song in “ASL” (American Sign Language).  The flow of power that poured from their midst was a strong flow that nearly knocked me over.  It was more than a feeling, it gravitated to the very core of who I am and in those brief seconds the convicting transformational flow of God’s power transformed me again.  The ramifications of this transformation is made known this day by the subtle changes in my behavior and thoughts that I am acutely aware of but be assured they were realized in that moment when a group of students were focused and actively praising God.

Next time you are in a “praise and worship” service, focus your active praise on God just because He is worthy.  Perhaps you or someone you are not even aware of may encounter the transformational power of the Almighty God.

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Knowledge or relationship? – Rabbi Jeff

Knowledge or relationship?

Over the past few years I have been in conversations that centered on the importance of seeking after the knowledge of God.  In these conversations, it became clear that seeking after God equaled the attainment of the knowledge of God and that there was “more.”  In other words, the more you know, the more (in intimacy) you can and will grow.  My question has become; “should knowledge of God be the goal and the intimacy with God the byproduct or should intimacy with God be the goal and knowledge of God the byproduct?”  I find my answer when I look back to the beginning.  On the sixth day of creation God made mankind in His own image and this creation of man was the pinnacle of all the things He had created, after all man was created in His very image.

B’resheet (Genesis) 1:26- 26 Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, in the likeness of ourselves; and let them rule over the fish in the sea, the birds in the air, the animals, and over all the earth, and over every crawling creature that crawls on the earth.”

God gave man the rule over all things and as God walked in the cool of the day He had a relationship with man that was close and/or intimate.  I find it interesting to note that there was only one command in this relationship and it was to stay focused on the relationship.

B’resheet (Genesis) 2:16-17- 16 ADONAI, God, gave the person this order: “You may freely eat from every tree in the garden 17 except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. You are not to eat from it, because on the day that you eat from it, it will become certain that you will die.”

Even though man had this command and a close and real and intimate relationship with God, it ended up not begin enough for him, because he wanted more.  I believe that very much like we are today, mankind was not completely satisfied with the relationship because he reasoned that there was “more” and in his hunger for wanting “more,” he was ripe for the scheme of the serpent.

B’resheet (Genesis) 3:4-6- 4 The serpent said to the woman, “It is not true that you will surely die; 5 because God knows that on the day you eat from it, your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it had a pleasing appearance and that the tree was desirable for making one wise, she took some of its fruit and ate. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her; and he ate.

Mankind traded the intimacy of a relationship with the creator of the universe for the knowledge of the creator.  We look at the first man and standing from the perspective of past millennia we scream “watch out!” But so many in the body of messiah do the same thing that original man did in the garden so long ago.  We trade relationship for knowledge thinking “if we just knew more, than we could or would have a deeper relationship with God.”  We do this when reading the Bible, in prayer, in community and we all “seek” after a “deeper” head knowledge all the while forsaking the intimate relationship that would give us all that we truly desire.  This is why Yeshua told the Pharisees that the greatest commandment was to Love God with all they were; with all they had.

Mattityahu 22:37-40- 37 He told him, “`You are to love ADONAI your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.’ 38 This is the greatest and most important mitzvah. 39 And a second is similar to it, `You are to love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All of the Torah and the Prophets are dependent on these two mitzvot.”

What is it you are seeking, knowledge or relationship?  I agree that knowledge of God and of the Bible is very important but knowledge in place of relationship bears no spiritual fruit.  As I have been reminded recently; “even the demons believe”… Ya’akov (James) 2:19

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Explain the “Fear of Adonai.”

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Explain the “Fear of Adonai.”

He boarded the boat, and his talmidim followed.  Then, without warning, a furious storm arose on the lake, so that waves were sweeping over the boat. But Yeshua was sleeping.  So they came and roused him, saying, “Sir! Help! We’re about to die!”  He said to them, “Why are you afraid? So little trust you have!” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and there was a dead calm.  The men were astounded. They asked, “What kind of man is this, that even the winds and sea obey him?”

Matthew 8:23-27

Simply follow the sequence of this event. It starts with a serious storm at sea. They were in fear of what was outside the boat. Because they were afraid of what was outside the boat they forgot about Who was inside the boat. While it is somewhat clear they knew He was the Messiah; they were distracted by the serious storm that was outside of the boat. They turned to the Messiah for help (something we often do). He simply “rebuked the storm” and everything became calm.

At that point, they were no longer in fear of the storm that was outside the boat. They were awed by Messiah’s power as the Son of God! The fear of Adonai simply recognizes Who and what God is!

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Keep it Simple

KEEP IT SIMPLE

Because you have known me, you will also know my Father; from now on, you do know him — in fact, you have seen him.”  Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it will be enough for us.”  Yeshua replied to him, “Have I been with you so long without your knowing me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father; so how can you say, `Show us the Father’? John14:7-9

Yeshua must be repeatedly astounded at us, astounded at how un-simple we are. It is opinions of our own which make us stupid, we “discern” all the time. Philip expected the revelation of a tremendous mystery, but not in the One Whom he knew. The mystery of God is not in what is going to be, it is now; we look for it presently, often in some cataclysmic event. We think we have no reluctance in obeying Yeshua, yet we often miss Him. “Lord, show us the Father.” He answers us: “There He is, always here, or nowhere.” We look for God to manifest Himself to His children: God only manifests Himself in His children. Other people see the manifestation; the child of God does not. We want to be conscious of God; we cannot be conscious of our consciousness and remain sane. We are asking God to give us experience, or if conscious experience is on the road, we complicate Messiah.

If I believe the character of Yeshua, am I my living up to my belief? Am I allowing anything to disturb my heart, any morbid questions to come in? I have to get to the implicit relationship that takes everything as it comes from Him. God always guides now! Realize Messiah is here now, and the emancipation is immediate.

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Are You Concerned about Finances?

ARE YOU CONCERNED ABOUT FINANCES?

OFTEN I AM.

Young lions can be needy, they can go hungry, but those who seek ADONAI lack nothing good. Psalms 34:10

Trust in ADONAI, and do good; settle in the land, and feed on faithfulness.  Then you will delight yourself in ADONAI, and he will give you your heart’s desire. Psalms 37:3-4

For ADONAI, God, is a sun and a shield; ADONAI bestows favor and honor; he will not withhold anything good from those whose lives are pure. Psalms 84:11

He has heeded the plea of the poor and not despised their prayer. Psalms 102:17

“So don’t be anxious, asking, `What will we eat?,’ `What will we drink?’ or `How will we be clothed?’

For it is the pagans who set their hearts on all these things. Your heavenly Father knows you need them all.

Matthew 6:31-32

Moreover, my God will fill every need of yours according to his glorious wealth, in union with the Messiah Yeshua. Philippians 4:19

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Reasons to Celebrate

REASONS TO CELEBRATE

The days on which the Jews obtained rest from their enemies and the month which for them was turned from sorrow into gladness and from mourning into a holiday; they were to make them days of celebrating and rejoicing, sending portions [of food] to each other and giving gifts to the poor. Esther 9:22

This month, we once again celebrated Purim! Once again time to rejoice! This time for our deliverance in Persia and the plans of the wicked official named Haman. Is it time to remember that which “was turned from sorrow into gladness and from mourning into a holiday.”

With so much trouble in the world; it is important to take time to remember to rejoice! While it is true, that there is often turmoil and others who will stand against us; “if God be for us who can be against us”? What should we do?

“Rejoice in union with the Lord always! I will say it again: rejoice!” Philippians 4:4

We have more to celebrate then all those in the world who reject the Truth. “He has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son.  It is through his Son that we have redemption – that is, our sins have been forgiven.” Colossians 1:13-14

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Hope

HOPE

The reason the promise is based on trusting is so that it may come as God’s free gift, a promise that can be relied on by all the seed, not only those who live within the framework of the Torah, but also those with the kind of trust Avraham had – Avraham avinu for all of us. This accords with the Tanakh, where it says, “I have appointed you to be a father to many nations.” Avraham is our father in God’s sight because he trusted God as the one who gives life to the dead and calls nonexistent things into existence. For he was past hope, yet in hope he trusted that he would indeed become a father to many nations, in keeping with what he had been told, “So many will your seed be.” Romans 4:16-22. His trust did not waver when he considered his own body – which was as good as dead, since he was about a hundred years old – or when he considered that Sarah’s womb was dead too. He did not by lack of trust decide against God’s promises. On the contrary, by trust he was given power as he gave glory to God, for he was fully convinced that what God had promised he could also accomplish. This is why it was credited to his account as righteousness.

Hope seems to be lacking today. Many people intentionally resist hope because they don’t want to face the pain and disappointment that comes if their hopes are dashed. Their philosophy is: “Don’t get your hopes up and you will never be disappointed. They obviously fail to realize Yeshua is our hope. “While continuing to expect the blessed fulfillment of our certain hope, which is the appearing of the Sh’khinah of our great God and the appearing of our Deliverer, Yeshua the Messiah.” Titus 2:13

The people who break away from the pack and accomplish great things are those who believe and hope. Abraham was one of these people, “for he was fully convinced that what God had promised he could also accomplish.” He knew the power of hope and would not let it go. When Abraham was nearly 100 years old and his wife was over 90, he still held on to the hope of God’s promise to give him a child. Although his faith gave him the victory, his hope kept his faith alive.

Where does hope come from? This says that Abraham’s hope, that he would become a father, was according to the words God had spoken to him. The Holy Spirit continually ministers hope to us as we meditate on the words God has spoken to us. God’s Words releases His hope into our hearts. If we have no Word from God, then we have no hope. Certainly the world doesn’t give out hope; it actually destroys it by rampant pessimism, skepticism and fear. Our only source of true hope is in what God has promised us.

Make a special effort to spend time listening to God’s Words today, and let hope begin to work in your life. You read your Bible not to see what it says; but to listen what it tells you.

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Hearing from God

HEARING FROM GOD

They said to Moshe, “You, speak with us; and we will listen. But don’t let God speak with us, or we will die.” Exodus 20:19

We often don’t consciously disobey God, we simply don’t pay attention to Him. God has given us His commands; there they are, but we don’t pay attention to them, not because of willful disobedience, but because of our lack of love and respect for Him.

If you love me, you will keep my commands.” John 14:15. When we realize that we have been “disrespecting” God most of the time, we are covered with shame and humiliation because we have ignored Him. “You, speak with us; and we will listen. But don’t let God speak with us, or we will die.” We show how little we love God by preferring to listen to His servants rather than Him. We like to listen to good messages, but we do not desire that God Himself speaks to us. Why are we so terrified to let God speak to us? Because we know that if God does speak; either the thing must be done or we must tell God we will not obey Him. If it is only the servant’s voice we hear, we feel it is not imperative. We can say, “Well that’s simply your own idea, though I don’t deny it is probably God’s truth.”

Are you putting God in the humiliating position of treating you as a child of His while all the time you have been ignoring Him? When you do hear Him the humiliation you have put on Him comes back on you; “Lord, why was I so dull and obstinate”? This is always the result when we do hear God. The real delight of hearing Him is tempered with the humility of having been so long not hearing Him.

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High Priest (Cohen Gadol)

HIGH PRIEST(COHEN GADOL)

  “Therefore, since we have a great cohen gadol who has passed through to the highest heaven, Yeshua, the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we acknowledge as true. For we do not have a cohen gadol unable to empathize with our weaknesses; since in every respect he was tempted just as we are, the only difference being that he did not sin. Therefore, let us confidently approach the throne from which God gives grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace in our time of need”. Hebrews 4:14-16

A long list of criteria had to be met for man to become High Priest. Meeting the criteria was only the 1st step. Afterwards, the High Priest was to offer sacrifices on behalf of himself and the people. He was the most connected to the sacred perfection of God and most responsible to correctly atone for the People’s sin. The sacrifices were continually repeated because no sacrifice was perfect enough to atone for sin once and for all.

Yeshua was different. He was perfect and did not become High Priest by being appointed by men. He was appointed by God. When Yeshua submitted Himself to His bloody sacrificial death, He assumed the position of both the High Priest and the sacrifice. He presented Himself as the sacrifice for our sins. When we look to Yeshua, we should be filled with thanksgiving, because our High Priest is perfect. Once we believe in Him, we are safe, having been cleansed from all unrighteousness. Yeshua fulfilled the Torah completely and through Him we have eternal life.

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Obedience

OBEDIENCE

 First were told: “Seek ADONAI while he is available, call on him while he is still nearby”. Isaiah 55:6. Then the Bible says:

No one seeks God”. Romans 3:11. In the Bible it’s a reality that we won’t seek God as we should.

Again and again, we are shown God’s standard of perfection, and our inability to reach it. Why? It is so we can avoid the fate of the Pharisees. They got up early in the morning and prayed long prayers. They constructed rules to keep a holy appearance of behavior. But Yeshua points out that while they appeared to be clean on the outside, their hearts were dark and rotten.

God is after a deeper work in us; deeper than we could ever accomplish on our own. Paul sums all this up in one simple passage: “You stupid Galatians! Who has put you under a spell? Before your very eyes Yeshua the Messiah was clearly portrayed as having been put to death as a criminal! I want to know from you just this one thing: did you receive the Spirit by legalistic observance of Torah commands or by trusting in what you heard and being faithful to it? Are you that stupid? Having begun with the Spirit’s power, do you think you can reach the goal under your own power?” Galatians 3:1-3

When our obedient works aren’t fashioned by the grace of God, we feel it. On the surface we may feel proud of what we seem to achieve. But when we’re honest, you feel like failures and are discouraged to the point of giving up, thinking, “This is too heavy a burden. I can’t take it anymore.” Exactly! That’s the point. It is a too heavy burden. That’s why Yeshua tells us: “Come to me, all of you who are struggling and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

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