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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For Good or Not for Good

For good or not for good…that is the question?

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

Life is full of happenings and because our view is limited to a degree in this present reality we often miss, that our heavenly father is working all of our good times and (what we consider) bad times together for our good.  This is not a new realization but it is one that we often times ignore.

It is easy to immediately identify a good or bad circumstance as valuable, yet at other times we must wait for the progression of time to pass before we can see the benefit of a difficult or trying circumstance.  As human beings we tend to “sweat the small stuff” and in so doing we often miss the good that God is doing in our lives.  The other day, my wife and I drove 30 miles to keep an important appointment.  We made work and home arrangements to leave town after work to be at the meeting location on time (if not a bit early).  We waited, and waited, and waited.  We knocked on the door and double checked our information by reading through the emails to be sure we had the right day, time, and location.  After a while we discovered that the meeting had been cancelled via phone message that we never received.  Do to the nature of the meeting we could have been upset, disappointed, mad and a whole host of other non-helpful emotions but in that moment we had clarity. We had a choice to recognize that God was working for us through this inconvenience.  The meeting was rescheduled but what about the fuel expense, the time we spent in vain making arrangements at work and our home schedule?  We both looked at one another and had the same thought…”God is working through this circumstance and what He is doing is good.”

With God there is never any waste.  The writer of Ecclesiastes 3:1 reminds us that “For everything there is a season, a right time for every intention under heaven.”

Recognizing God’s love for us and being aware spiritually can help us live in much more joy.  We do not have to react like the world, we can act and accept all things with joy and love.

James 1:2-4- 2 Regard it all as joy, my brothers, when you face various kinds of temptations; 3 for you know that the testing of your trust produces perseverance. 4 But let perseverance do its complete work; so that you may be complete and whole, lacking in nothing.

I pray that you can see that this awareness actually frees you from a lot of pain and suffering in this world.  Your awareness of all things being made to benefit you whether minor irritations like being stood up for a meeting to major pain and suffering in your life is all easier to endure.  You can decrease suffering and distress and plain misery simply by engaging your free will and choose to view your life in the light that God is letting nothing go to waste and all things will (eventually) benefit you, His child.

Back to the question…”For good or not for good?”  Prayerfully you understand that every circumstance in your life is positive.  God is working in the background to make it so and He never fails.

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Stay Focussed!

STAY FOCUSSED!

“We have found this man a pest. He is an agitator among all the Jews throughout the world and a ringleader of the sect of the Natzratim. He even tried to profane the Temple, but we arrested him. By questioning this man yourself, you will be able to learn all about the things of which we are accusing him.” The Judeans also joined in the accusation and alleged that these were the facts.   Acts 24:5-9

When Paul appeared in court he heard these outlandish charges leveled against him. It was a trap set by Paul’s opponents. Yet Paul saw an even bigger trap. HaSatan himself was trying to get Paul off his message of Yeshua being central and to embroil him in the Jews bitter conflict with their Roman enemies.

As a skilled debater, Paul easily could’ve engaged his opponents. But he refused to become entangled in their political fight. He made the choice for the sake of the truth to preach Messiah.

Eventually, Paul was taken before King Agrippa to defend himself. But in the Royal Court, Paul again chose to preach Messiah. He boldly told Agrippa his dramatic story, even at his own peril:  “On one such occasion, I was traveling to Dammesek with the full authority and power of the head cohanim. I was on the road, and it was noon, your Majesty, when I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining around me and my traveling companions. We all fell to the ground; and then I heard a voice saying to me, in Hebrew, ‘Sha’ul! Sha’ul! Why do you keep persecuting me? It’s hard on you to be kicking against the ox-goads!’ I said, ‘Who are you, sir?’ and the Lord answered, ‘I am Yeshua, and you are persecuting me!   Acts 26:12-15

The king was stirred by Paul’s message and refused to rule, instead decreed that Paul be sent to Rome to appear in Caesar’s court. Paul accepted this readily because he accepted his Calling: “The following night, the Lord stood by him and said, “Take courage! For just as you have borne a faithful witness to me in Yerushalayim, so now you must bear witness in Rome.”   Acts 23:11

Today, Satan is attempting to get us off the message of the centrality of Messiah Yeshua. We must stay focused!

It’s all about God and the Messiah!

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