Tree of Life Messianic Congregation

A Fellowship of Jewish and non-Jewish Believers in Yeshua

Author: treeofl8 (page 2 of 4)


Today’s Torah portion is one of those passages that we tend to skip over or speed read through as we put our brain on pause. There are names we can’t pronounce and places we can’t locate on Google earth. And what difference does it make anyway. It certainly doesn’t look like international borders today. So why study it?
Well there are some important lessons about the character of God that can be learned from dividing up the land. Here are a few.
Order, not Chaos
I’ve said many times that God is not the author or confusion. He does not sew discontent. In this chapter we see evidence of that again. Israel is about to go into the promised land and drive out the inhabitants and divide it among the various tribes. God is taking an active role in the process. He actually told Moses who he wanted on the steering committee. He names each individual. Then he gives them some guidelines. The leadership was not left to chance or arguments. No confusion as to who was chosen. God said it, that was the end of it.
Fair and equitable
Israel had already taken a census in order to determine how many people were in each tribe. So now they were to partition the land and portion it out according to the size of each tribe. The larger tribes received more land while the smaller tribes received less. So we see that on a per capita basis, every person or family received an equal share.
Peter recognized this characteristic of God in the home of the Roman Centurion, Cornelius.
Acts 10:34-35 Then Peter opened his mouth and said, “I truly understand that God is not one to show favoritism, (35) but in every nation the one who fears Him and does what is right is acceptable to Him.
Our creator does not love the Billy Grahams and Mother Theresas of this world any more than he does the vilest sinner. He loves us all. He proved it by sending his son to die for our sins. You know the famous verse John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Yeshua truly made everyone equal. He elevated the status of women. Paul put it this way.
Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female—for you are all one in Messiah Yeshua.
Today we hear a lot of noise about discrimination. You are all familiar with the buzz words, black lives matter, blue lives matter, white privilege, cultural appropriation, illegal immigration. The list goes on. Seems like you can’t take a breath without offending someone. But rest assured. With God we are all equal. And no one is more equal than anyone else. Because we all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. No one gets a free pass. We all come to salvation only through the shed blood of Yeshua HaMashiach.
God Set Boundaries
Boundaries are very important to our very existence. Without boundaries society would devolve into chaos and anarchy. All civilizations whether primitive or modern have had some kind of boundaries under which they functioned and carried out their daily lives. It may have been something as simple as making sure the chief gets the best cut of meat after the hunt. It was still a rule that helped the group function.
Of course, today we have evolved and I use that term guardedly, we have evolved into a very complex society wit mountains of rules and regulations. Just look at the tax code to get an idea of the absurd manner in which we live today.
Hashem had a different take on rules. If we look at what He gave us at Mount Sinai, we see 613 rules. These instructions covered civil, moral and ceremonial aspects of their society. It was God’s standard of holiness. The Torah has been condensed into what we call the Ten Commandments. Those Ten Commandments are as appropriate today as they were 3500 years ago. There is not one of those commandments that we can point to and say “oh that’s outdated and no longer applies”. Some people try to do that, but they are only deluding themselves.
So God gave the Israelites physical boundaries that we see in today’s reading and he gave them societal boundaries in the 613 laws of Torah. There were some further instructions regarding boundaries.
Don’t Move the Boundary Markers
Deuteronomy 19:14 “You must not move your neighbor’s boundary marker that the first generations marked out, in the inheritance you will receive in the land Adonai your God is giving you to possess.
Property rights were very important to the Israelites and it is borne out in the above verse. It speaks to us about honesty and integrity.
Deuteronomy 27:17 ‘Cursed is the one who removes his neighbor’s boundary marker.’ Then all the people are to say, ‘Amen.’
This is one of the curses that were shouted from one mountain to the other when Israel entered the land further cemented their relationship with Hashem by repeating both blessings and curses which were tied to their obedience of Torah.
Many of us own property and the corners of our property is marked with an iron rod driven into the ground by the surveyor. The corners at my place are further marked with a big post placed immediately next to it so it is easy to find. It would be against the laws of the State of Texas and well as the Law of God to move the boundary marker into my neighbor’s property so my property would be bigger.
What about the spiritual and moral boundaries that are given to us in the Bible? Are we guilty of moving the boundaries?
There are those in our churches and synagogues today who are doing exactly that. They have moved the moral boundary markers. No longer is it an abomination to live a homosexual lifestyle. Modesty has been thrown out the window. Honesty has been replaced with extensive contracts because a man’s word and handshake is no longer good enough.
Some denominations are now ordaining people of the LGBT persuasion. Ministers are being indicted for all manner of crimes from assault to embezzlement. The boundary markers have been moved.
This morning I want to caution us all to leave God’s boundary markers in place. When the Bible says there will be no liars in Heaven, I believe God means it. When Romans Chapter one describes behavior that is called an abomination, I believe God means it.
But when we live within the boundaries that God has given us we have blessings beyond imagination.
Live within His boundaries and be blessed.

Warrior Mentality

20180310 Parsha 123 Warrior Mentality

The parsha for this week is the entire chapter 33 of Numbers. It begins with a recounting of the travels of the Israelites from the Exodus to their present location, the Plains of Moab.
Many of the locations we remember from earlier Parashot because something noteworthy occurred there. Let’s recap some of these events, as they lead up to B’Nei Israel becoming ready for their transition from Egyptian Exodus to Conquering Canaan.
1.Pillars of Cloud and Fire
2.Red Sea Crossing
3.Healing of Marah Waters
4.Manna and Quail
5.Ten Commandments
6.Korah’s Rebellion
7.Zeal of Pinchas

After B’nei Israel left this first campsite, the Lord attended them in a cloud by day and in a pillar of fire by night (Ex. 13:20–22).

They had witnessed all the plagues of Egypt, but were still unsure of their security with G-d as Father. In many ways, their understanding of Him was nearly like a fairy tale, an oral narrative that had been passed down the generations since Abraham. They were taking their first steps as a nation, the same way a child takes unsteady steps toward a patient father. The pillars served as a constant guide, like a night light warding off the things that go bump in the night.

Israel passed through the Red Sea, laden with the riches of Egypt, and the promise of a future. (Ex. 14; Num. 33:8).

In a miracle that should have been the sealing of their faith, the nation of Israel is born through the parting of the waters. They left Egypt laden with the riches of and every necessary thing that would help them build the Tabernacle that would house the Holy One of Israel.

The Lord healed the waters of Marah when Moses threw the Tree into the water. (Ex. 15:23–26).
Allowing their flesh to cloud their minds, they complained of thirst, not trusting Adonai to provide for them. The waters of Marah were as bitter as their souls, yet Adonai made it sweet again when Moses threw the Tree bringing life and healing to the water and the people.

G-d used Manna to lay the foundations of Shabbat, as they were to collect it for 6 days, a double portion on the 6th day, then rest on the Sabbath. (Ex. 16).
The Lord established many things on the journey to Canaan, and his Holy Shabbat was one of the alterations to their lives that they were instructed to honor. He used Manna to teach them what Shabbat was, and to prove to them that He is their portion.

G-d called Moses up (with Joshua) to the mountain to receive the two tablets of stone with the ten commandments written by the finger of God. (Ex. 19–20).
God called Moses and Joshua up to Mt. Sinai to give firm boundaries to the Hebrews, establishing the Law which would become the code by which they would be identified through all generations. The Law laid the foundations that led the way to understanding the need for blood to cover sin, so that we could know why we need Yeshua HaMashiach to be our savior and redeemer.

Israel spent 38 years here, where everyone over the age of 20 from the original exodus from Egypt died, numbering 1.5 million Hebrews. Also Korah’s Rebellion.
Kadesh Barnea saw a lot of action, as the Hebrews spent nearly all of their desert experience in this location. Miriam died here, as did the rest of the ungrateful and grumbling generation who refused to believe the goodness of God. Significant events here include Korah’s Rebellion, where Adonai firmly established the sanctity of the priestly line through Aaron. Spies were sent out to neighboring kingdoms, resulting in a distinction between the original unfaithful generation, and the younger generation that was ready to overcome the enemies of G-d.

Where contention existed between the Israelites and G‑d, Pinchas sought to replace it with love, as G‑d says, “Pinchas… has turned My wrath away from the children of Israel.’
The Israelites have been wandering about in the Middle Eastern desert for 40 years. Everyone over the age of 20 who came out of Egypt was condemned by God to die in the wilderness because of their lack of faith. They chose to believe the report of 10 faithless spies who convinced the people that they could not take the land God had promised them. Only two men remained from that generation, Joshua and Caleb, and now they are beginning a new phase of the journey.
Pinchas embodied the zeal that filled the hearts and minds of the younger generation, who were ready to do whatever it took to bring healing to the nation and restore relationship to G-d. Their zeal paved the way for the Hebrews to occupy Canaan and claim their promised birthright.

God’s chosen people were on the cusp of realizing the promise given to their father Abraham some 600 years earlier.
Then Adonai appeared to Abram, and said, “I will give this land to your seed.” So there he built an altar to Adonai, who had appeared to him.
600 years is a long time to wait, but here they were. There had to be a lot of emotions swirling around the people at this time. I’m sure they felt apprehension, maybe fear, eager anticipation, anxiety. Just about every human emotion would have been present as this teeming mass of people prepared for the next step in God’s plan for their lives.

They were preparing for war. This is not a pretty passage of scripture. I’m sure it makes some people uncomfortable the think that God is telling Joshua to go into the land and drive out all the inhabitants. Don’t leave anyone alive in the land. They must all be driven out or killed.
There is a practical application for us today. Whether you want to admit it or not, we are at war.
We are at war with those who demand that our children leave their Bibles and their Godly values at the door of the school building.
We are at war with those who say it is ok for a man to go into a women’s restroom and put our women and children at risk.
We are at war with the forces of evil that push violence, sex and perversion on our youth every day in the form of TV, movies, and social media.
We are at war with those hateful regimes that strive to annihilate the nation of Israel. Not a week goes by but what we read about some terrorist killing or attempting to kill innocent people in Israel for no other reason other than they are Jewish.
We must vigorously battle those political voices in this nation that constantly denigrate people of faith and morality. That also includes those screeching voices on TV that ridiculed our Vice President because he said he listens to the voice of Jesus.
I could go on and on about who and what we should be confronting this morning, but I think you get the picture.
We cannot sit idly by on our CAT, sigh and say oh how terrible. You know what a CAT is don’t you? It’s a Complacent American Tukis. No, we need to get up on our feet.
The children of Israel lost a golden opportunity to conquer the land of Canaan because of fear and unbelief. An entire generation of people lost their lives because of their unwillingness to take up the sword and follow Adonai Elohim Tzva’ot, the Lord God of Hosts into battle and certain victory.
When an army prepares to go into battle what do they do?
They train, making sure that they are strong, fit, and capable of waging war against the enemy.
How do we train for war? Praying and reading God’s word. We cannot be overcomers if we are weak, out of shape, ill prepared believers.
What else does the successful army do before battle? They equip themselves.
The apostle Paul had something to say about equipping ourselves for spiritual combat.
Ephesians 6:10
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.
This is a very important point here. Be strong IN THE LORD. Not in ourselves. If we rely on our own puny resources we are bound to fail. Remember, we are not battling flesh and blood but powers and principalities. Spiritual battles require spiritual leadership.
If we are to be successful in battle, we need the proper equipment. Paul says to put on the whole armor of God. Half measures lead to defeat and failure. Spiritual battles require 100% effort and dedication.
What is the full armor of God?
Belt of Truth – What was the purpose of a belt in ancient times? The same as today, it holds stuff up. The belt was important to the Roman infantryman. It held his money and possible ID. It also was a place that could keep his Sword at hand.
Breastplate – protected the soldier from frontal attack. It protected the soldier’s heart . Righteousness protects our hearts today. We need to constantly guard against those that would steal our hearts away from the one true God.
Feet strapped with cloth and leather to protect against the elements. Allowed the soldier to move over rough terrain. We need our feet protected so that when we walk over sharp rocks, thorns, and stinging creatures, the obstacles don’t slow us down or distract us from the battle. We need to be ready for anything the enemy can throw up against us.
The shield of faith is essential for when the enemy throws flaming arrows at us in the form of fear and doubt, we can fend them off. Without faith we are powerless.
The helmet of salvation. Knowing the Messiah is the crown jewel of our lives here on earth. An injury to most of the body parts already mentioned can be serious but normally, not fatal…. The brain can be particularly vulnerable in battle. But salvation and God’s grace is always effective.
The sword of the Spirit. The Ruach HaKodesh was the power that propelled the 70 to start speaking in foreign languages. It was that power that gave Peter boldness. It was that power that sustained the early believers during the lean years in Jerusalem.
I would like to point out one other thing associated with this parsha. Paul told the kehila at Ephesus, that when they had done everything they knew how to do in order to stand against evil, Then Stand.
I am a big fan of Winston Churchill. He said one time that we should never, never, ever give up. Of course he was speaking of surrender to Nazi Germany, but that would apply today to the forces of evil that so forcefully surround us today. Never, ever surrender because “greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world.

We all have our own personal Canaan lands to conquer. Now is not the time to be complacent or to give up our guns. Don’t lay down your armor.

Covenant of Shalom

This week’s Torah portion is a continuation of last week’s story of Balak and Balaam. Balaam had advised Balak that the way to defeat Israel was to attack their morality. Sure enough, the women of Moab soon began corrupting the men of Israel to great effect. A great plague came on the people because of their sin. The Bible records that 24,000 died.

One particular prince of the Tribe of Simon took a woman named Kozbi and basically defied God and flaunted their sin before all Israel in front of the tent of meeting. Aaron’s grandson Pinchas (or Phineas), was so incensed over their flagrant display that he followed them back to their tent and ran a spear through them.
Hashem spoke to Moses and said that Pinchas had turned away His wrath from Israel and the plague stopped. God also said something very interesting. Adonai made a covenant with Pinchas. This was an unusual covenant in that it was cut with Pinchas, not in anticipation of something that he would do in the future. This was not an ‘if’ – ‘then’ covenant. It was more like a ‘because’-‘then’ covenant. Because of the zeal of Pinchas, then God made a covenant with him.

God called it a Covenant of Shalom, or Covenant of Peace.
Today I want to look at the word shalom and expand the meaning of the word to what it really means in Hebrew.

All of us here today are familiar with the word Shalom. I recite it every week in the Aaronic Benediction. We see congregations called Sar Shalom, Prince of Peace. Shalom is often used to mean the absence of war.

I often begin email and other correspondence with the word Shalom. In Israel you pick up your phone and the first word you say is Shalom. Commonly Shalom closes your phone conversation.

We can guess that God did not give Pinchas a covenant of Hello or Goodbye. So, what did this word שלום really mean?

“Shalom” is taken from the root word shalam, which means, “to be safe in mind, body, or estate.” It speaks of completeness, fullness, or a type of wholeness that encourages you to give back — to generously re-pay something in some way.

True biblical shalom refers to an inward sense of completeness or wholeness. Although it can describe the absence of war, a majority of biblical references refer to an inner completeness and tranquility. In Israel today, when you greet someone or say goodbye, you say, Shalom. You are literally saying, “may you be full of well-being” or, “may health and prosperity be upon you.”

If this is the way we understand biblical peace, then suddenly many verses take on a whole new meaning. With this Hebrew thought of shalom in mind, let’s look at a few common Scriptures about peace:
Numbers 6:23-26 “Speak to Aaron and to his sons saying: Thus you are to bless Bnei-Yisrael, by saying to them: (24) ‘Adonai bless you and keep you! (25) Adonai make His face to shine on you and be gracious to you! (26) Adonai turn His face toward you and grant you shalom!’

The context of the Aaronic Blessing is ironic (pun intended). God told Aaron to bless Israel with peace while they were getting ready to go conquer the Promised Land. If peace means “the absence of war,” then this doesn’t make sense, since they would soon be destroying cities. God was referring to an inner peace and completeness brought on by sharing in His countenance and His protection. That was the blessing that Israel needed! Israel was to rarely experience times of outward peace, but even in the midst of battle, they were to have an inward rest brought on by the presence of the Lord, regardless of the outward circumstances — so it should be for us as well.

Psalms 122:6-7 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem—“May those who love you be at peace! (7) May there be shalom within your walls—quietness within your palaces.”
Today many are praying for the peace of Jerusalem due to the rising threat from Israel’s enemies. However, this exhortation to pray is not so Israel can live without conflict. It is so that Jerusalem can fulfill its destiny as set by the only One who can bring complete restoration to the city, which Yeshua referred to as “The city of the great King.”

Psalm 122:6-7 should serve as a prayer for Israel’s spiritual revival. Verse 7 says that we are praying for peace within Jerusalem’s walls and palaces. That is where true biblical peace is found — within. Pray for the fullness and completeness of Jerusalem. Pray that there may be such wholeness and safety found in her palaces that it overflows to others. From this perspective, it almost sounds like we are praying for the return of Israel’s Messiah, the Prince of Peace, to establish His throne in Jerusalem.

Matthew 5:9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
In this verse, Yeshua is not referring to mediators or political negotiators, but to those who carry an inward sense of the fullness and safety that is only available through son-ship with God. In the biblical Hebrew understanding of shalom, there is a point at which you have so much shalom that it spills out from you, and is repaid or rendered to others. And so, as you make others peaceful and inwardly complete, that makes you a peacemaker. Yeshua said these peacemakers will be called sons of God. Yeshua was called the Son of God. By sharing God’s uncontainable peace with others, we become just like Yeshua.

John 14:27 “Shalom I leave you, My shalom I give to you; but not as the world gives! Do not let your heart be troubled or afraid.

Completeness and wholeness I leave with you, my own fulfillment, comfort, completeness I give to you; but not as the world gives.

There are many other examples worthy of study regarding shalom. Peace is so much more than the world’s one-sided definition. We must find our understanding of it through the Bible, from the God of Israel. We will need it in the days ahead
There is so much more to shalom that what you knew before today. When Yeshua says that He is leaving peace for us, he meant so much more than no fighting.

This morning do you feel like your life is lacking something? You just never seem to look forward to getting out of bed in the morning. Your marriage, your kids, your career, your friends will never be able to completely satisfy your soul. Only Yeshua can satisfy that hunger.

By My Spirit

20171104 Parashat 105 By My Spirit

Today’s Haftarah reading is from Zechariah. This particular passage is very well known, especially to those of the charismatic/Pentecostal persuasion.

This book is the second to the last of the Minor Prophets in the second (Prophets) division of the Hebrew Bible. Neither Jews nor Christians seriously challenged its canonicity. One reason for this is the fact that the New Testament quotes and alludes to Zechariah so often, about 41 times. The Gospel evangelists cited chapters 9—14 more frequently in their passion narratives than any other portion of the Old Testament. The Book of Revelation refers to the Book of Zechariah more frequently than to any other Old Testament book except Ezekiel. There are also few textual problems in the book; the text has come down to us well preserved.

Many of us don’t get excited about going to the mailbox to get the mail. (Former military members are the exception. I still like to go to the mail box.) But most people do one of two things with our mail; we throw it in the trash, or we put it with our checkbook. My kids enjoy going to the mailbox.

Although they don’t get a lot of mail they go with the anticipation of finding a letter or magazine with their name on it. Does anyone remember what it was like to be excited to find a letter in the mail addressed to us? Today we are recipients of such a letter.
The Bible tells us “All Scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, for reproof, for restoration, and for training in righteousness”, 2Ti 3:16 TLV This morning we are going to look at what should be a familiar passage of scripture to most of us (if you aren’t familiar with it, then after I introduce you to it I want you to get well acquainted with it.(write it down and memorize it).

This passage of scripture is a PERSONAL WORD. Originally it was a message for Zerubbabel (did anyone just figure out what verse of scripture I’m headed towards?). Because the Word of God is given to all of us and is beneficial for instruction or a well needed rebuke to help us live our lives for God, then this is a verse of scripture we can all personalize. Don’t think of this word of the Lord as an antiquated message for another time and place. This is a personal message for you and me today so put your name into it and listen to what the Lord has to say to each of us today.

Zechariah 4:6 ‘This is the word of Adonai to Zerubbabel (Tree of Life Messianic Congregation) saying: “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Ruach!” says Adonai-Tzva’ot.

Zechariah 4:6 This is God’s Message to Zerubbabel: ’You can’t force these things. They only come about through my Spirit,’ says God-of-the-Angel-Armies. (MsgB)

1. This is the Word of the Lord.
We are bombarded by announcements and messages today. In our electronic age images sounds and words flood our TVs, radios, computers, newspapers, magazines, billboards and more. It is becoming more and more difficult to find someplace where someone isn’t trying to get your attention.

How often do we give our attention to something that is here today and then gone tomorrow? Advertisers spent millions of dollars to communicate their message during the last Super Bowl Game; but just a few months later many of those multi-million dollar ads are obsolete. New messages have taken their place.

God’s word has not changed. GOD’S WORD ENDURES FROM GENERATION TO GENERATION! His message is timeless; the word of the Lord is not out dated or obsolete. God’s word continues to speak personally to us today!
1Pe 1:24-25 For, “All humanity is like grass, And all its glory like a wildflower. The grass withers, and the flower falls off, (25) But the word of the Lord endures forever.” And this is the word that was proclaimed as Good News to you.

God has no need to invent new ways of communicating His message to the hearts of men and women.

Whether the word is written or spoken, regardless of if the word is illustrated with pictures or drama, GOD COMMUNICATES HIS WORD IN THE SAME WAY, BY HIS SPIRIT!
1 Corinthians 2:11-13 For who among men knows the things of a man, except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way, no one knows the things of God except the Ruach Elohim. (12) Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God—so we might come to know the things freely given to us by God. (13) These things we also speak—not in words taught by human wisdom but in words taught by the Ruach, explaining the spiritual to the spiritual.

God’s Word endures the test of time. His is a message of the Spirit. HEAR THE WORD OF THE LORD SPOKEN TO YOU TODAY!

2. Stop trying to do it on your own.
The Lord says, Not by might nor by power, you can’t force these things¨.

Might and power refer to human strength of any kind. No amount of physical, mental or moral strength will accomplish anything of eternal value. Neither the combined strength of many nor the authority of any individual is of any value.

How often do we find ourselves trying to do things for ourselves, or looking to what others can do to help us? In every area of our lives, from family and friends, health and medical needs, education and work, to fun and entertainment, you name it; we try to handle problems on our own.

The Bible reminds us over and over to stop trying to do it on our own.
Psalms 33:16-19 No king is saved by his great army, no warrior is delivered by great strength. (17) A horse is a false hope for victory, nor can its great strength save. (18) Behold, the eyes of Adonai are on those who fear Him, waiting for His love, (19) to deliver their souls from death, and to keep them alive in famine.

Proverbs 3:5-7 5Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. 6Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. 7Don’t assume that you know it all. (MsgB)

3. By the Spirit of the Lord.
God wants to help us! He has given us His Spirit to empower and equip us for every good work. “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit, declares the Lord Almighty”. Nothing will be impossible with God as our helper!

Yeshua is our perfect example. Everything Yeshua did was not by His own power or strength. Yeshua depended upon the Spirit of the Lord.
Luke 4:18-19 “The Ruach Adonai is on me, because He has anointed me to proclaim Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free the oppressed, (19) and to proclaim the year of Adonai’s favor.”

HOW DO WE DEPEND UPON THE SPIRIT? What must we do to ‘Let go and let God?’ What do you and I need to do individually and as a congregation to let the Spirit operate in and through our lives? What do we need to do in order to put Zechariah 4:6 into practice in our daily lives today?

As individuals and as a congregation, we must be committed to prayer. Prayer plugs us into the power and resources of the Spirit.

Prayer is the litmus test for our dependence upon the Spirit. Where prayer is absent or reduced, the confidence in human strength increases. We might say we can do nothing without God’s Spirit, but if we aren’t praying we are only fooling ourselves. Individuals or congregations who pray acknowledge their dependence upon God and His Spirit.
Isaiah 30:15 God, the Master, The Holy One of Israel, has this solemn counsel: “Your salvation requires you to turn back to me and stop your silly efforts to save yourselves. Your strength will come from settling down in complete dependence on me, The very thing you’ve been unwilling to do.¨ (MsgB)

James 5:16-18 So confess your offenses to one another and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous person is very powerful. (17) Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain. And it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. (18) He prayed again, and the sky gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.

God will speak to us through our time spent in prayer. The more we spend time with Him we will soon realize God is speaking to us throughout the day. (He has promised to never leave us didn’t He?)

How will we recognize God’s voice? How can we know God is leading and directing us, is it God or just me? God will always speak in agreement with His written Word.
Numbers 23:19 God is not a man who lies, or a son of man who changes his mind! Does He speak and then not do it, or promise and not fulfill it?

Through the scriptures God speaks with a clear voice. Through the scriptures we will learn to recognize the voice of God leading and directing our every step.

John 15:4-7 Abide in Me, and I will abide in you. The branch cannot itself produce fruit, unless it abides on the vine. Likewise, you cannot produce fruit unless you abide in Me. (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. (6) If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away like a branch and is dried up. Such branches are picked up and thrown into the fire and burned. (7) “If you abide in Me and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you.

The Lord said, Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit.¨ God did not say, Sit and do nothing and just watch me do it.¨
James 2:14-18 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone says he has faith, but does not have works? Can such faith save him? (15) If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, (16) and one of you says to them, “Go in shalom, keep warm and well fed, ” but you do not give them what the body needs, what good is that? (17) So also faith, if it does not have works, is dead by itself. (18) But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith without works and I will show you faith by my works.
What is living faith? It is faith tied to action. It is faith that is not sitting on the sofa with an x-box in your hand.

Living faith is putting your faith in motion. When the disciples were being trained by Yeshua, he didn’t tell them to sit in their local synagogue and do nothing but read Torah and recite their daily prayers. No! He sent them out in pairs to tell all who would listen the good news of the Kingdom of God. They went out preaching, teaching and laying on of hands with faith for healing.

Yeshua further defined our duties just minutes before He left the earth:
Matthew 28:18-20 And Yeshua came up to them and spoke to them, saying, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. (19) Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, immersing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Ruach ha-Kodesh, (20) teaching them to observe all I have commanded you. And remember! I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

What’s the takeaway this morning? What we can accomplish by our own strength and abilities is limited. If we want to achieve great things for the Kingdom of God, it has to be through the power of the Ruach HaKodesh, the Holy Spirit.

And we don’t have to worry, because Yeshua said “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.

Meeting on 21 October

On 21 October we will be meeting at 21334 Provincial Blvd in Katy. This will be for one week only. We will be back at St Peter’s United Methodist Church on 28 October.

Yom Kippur

I would like to remind everyone that Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement begins this coming Friday evening 29 September. We will have an Erev Yom Kippur Service beginning at 7 pm.

On Shabbat, 30 September we will have a Yom Kippur service beginning at 10:30 AM.

We are now meeting in the Wesley Center at St Peter’s United Methodist Church located at 20775 Kingsland Blvd, in Katy.

Everyone is welcome to come and observe with us this most Holy Day of our Jewish Calendar.

True Wisdom

20170923 Parashat 101 Shabbat Shuvah Sermon – True Wisdom
Today is Shabbat Shuvah – the Sabbath of Return
Our text comes from Hosea, and it tells us of Israel returning to God and His blessing in doing so. I want to focus on Hosea 14:10
Hosea 14:10 Who is wise? Let him discern these things. Who is intelligent? Let him know them. For the ways of Adonai are straight, and the just walk in them, but the wicked stumble in them.
The entire chapter speaks of returning to God and equates it to wisdom, so let’s talk about wisdom.
Are you wise?

Who do you consider wise? What is wisdom?

Here are some random wise sayings I found on the internet

The older I grow the more I distrust the familiar doctrine that age brings wisdom
– H.L. Mencken (American journalist)

Men and nations behave wisely once they have exhausted all other alternatives
Abba Eban (Israeli diplomat and deputy prime minister)

Cabbage: A familiar kitchen-garden vegetable about as large and wise as a man’s head
Ambrose Bierce (American author)

It’s so simple to be wise. Just think of something stupid to say and then don’t say it.
Sam Levenson (American humorist)

Hmmm not sure if that helps or hinders our quest in understanding wisdom….

The dictionary says that wisdom is having the power to judge properly what is true or right…. is having the power to judge properly what is true or right….

When I read that it surprised me a bit…’s not the first thing I think of when I think of wisdom….often in our society we link wisdom with people who are older than us, or folks with a great deal of education. Oriental cultures seem to value those of us with grey hair as being wise. I viewed my grandfather as being wise, although he a more “no hair” than grey hair. So, in our society wisdom is often coupled with age….

Wisdom I think is also associated with knowledge…..People who have loads of knowledge on a particular topic are considered wise…..My dad for example knew a lot about fixing things. He was a regular McGiver. It might not have been a pretty fix, but it was solid.

The point is though that society has definite ideas on who has wisdom and who doesn’t……. We all have ideas and people who we think are wise……However today what I want us to think about is not just what society thinks is wise but what is wisdom in God’s eyes? Who does God consider wise?

Let’s briefly review the book of Hosea. Now Hosea was a man called by God to speak God’s message to the people of Israel…..So just like when we read the Bible, we read God’s message to us…..Hosea was actually saying, at times yelling, or even pleading God’s message directly to the people of Israel.

Now Israel were God’s people….they were set apart from the rest of the world….. for his purposes of saving that world. This was a big responsibility…… And I just want you to think for a moment how you respond when you are given responsibility. Sometimes we accept the responsibility with humility, caution, or enthusiasm, depending on our experiences up to that time and our individual personalities.……Other times I think we can assume a superiority…..One that is very aware that you have been given responsibility or power over something or someone else….I think it’s easy to let the “power” go to your head if you have knowledge over someone else…..if you are considered wiser or the wisest….. Israel were to be God’s people set apart to be a light to the rest of the world…..You can nearly see Israel thinking…..Wow we’re different?! Chosen by God…. superior to everyone else….You can nearly see them leap from being set apart by God for his purposes…. to how wise or good are we ….thinking they must have the power to judge properly right and wrong because God has chosen them…..

Yet as we look at our passage today….we see that Israel God’s people have turned away from God….We see Hosea’s plea to return to the Lord your God…..Israel had stumbled in many ways……in chapter 4 verse 1 and 2 we read
Hosea 4:1-2 Hear the word of Adonai, Bnei-Yisrael! For Adonai has a dispute with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, no covenant loyalty, and no knowledge of God in the land. (2) Curse, deceive, murder, steal, commit adultery! They practice violence, and bloodshed follows bloodshed.….
in that same chapter we read from verse 12…Israel had turned to other gods that of Baal and of consulting wooden poles….it’s interesting to note the language of whoredom…..Israel was in relationship with God… that of a marriage…..God the husband, the provider, nurturer and deliver has been cheated on by Israel…..

In understanding this….I ask the question “Was Israel as a people considered wise?” By all accounts you would have to say a definite no……People who steal and commit adultery don’t fit into our definitions of wisdom….one assumes that they don’t know what is true or right…..or else they would have carried it out….surely??!! What do you think God thinks of Israel’s behavior…..would it fit by His standards of wisdom??

The first verse in our passage today answers this question ……Read with me from verse 1..(READ)…… Israel has stumbled….They had turned away from their Creator, they had cheated on Him….They had disobeyed his laws for them……Stealing, murdering and idolatry are not part of God’s standard’s of wisdom… they’re stumbling…..

However after stumbling they are also hurting…..just like…..when you stumble and your knee breaks open…..It hurts a lot….Israel were hurting…..They needed God…..And that’s exactly what Hosea orders “Return to your God….” The first step in becoming wise in God’s eyes is to acknowledge your Creator and turn to God

Hosea then proceeds to outline what returning to God is…..even giving them the words of a prayer to say to God.

This prayer acknowledges that Israel has done the wrong thing….they have sinned against their God…..and now they are asking God to take away all guilt – forgive us our sins……

Hosea even details what the sins are……(He’s definitely a details man)…..including having affairs with foreign gods….gods that have been made by the work of human hands….wooden poles…. Or relying on Assyria to save them…….a nation Israel was banking on to get them out of hot water…..

It’s very easy to be like Israel….who in their wisdom decided to rely on humans either themselves or other humans as people who have the power to judge properly what is true and right……particularly in the world we live in presently, a world of terrorism….It’s very easy to find refuge in statements made by people like George Bush……

On the day of September 11….George Bush responded with this….”A great people has been moved to defend a great nation. Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shattered steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve. America was targeted for attack because we’re the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world. And no one will keep that light from shining.”

Now to America that was a very inspirational speech… that would have encouraged them in their grief……but where are the results of such a speech……there’s still terrorism in the world…..Bali, the UK….there’s still violence in the world…..Ultimately man or woman cannot save us…..just like Assyria could not and did not save the people of Israel…

In our society today we have many gods made by human hands…..many things we worship that lull us into a false sense of security….nice house, good job, money in the bank, being nice to people… money to charity….lots of things we think will ultimately save us…….lots of good deeds done by humans hands…..

Well God says to all return to me, return to your God….Forgive us our sins….take away our guilt…. so that we may offer you the fruit of our lips….so we can praise you God with our words and songs and prayers…. For you God and only you will the orphan or the fatherless find mercy and be saved.

Now if Israel had returned to God and prayed the prayer outlined by Hosea……we see what God’s response would be…. Look at verse 4 onwards and note the language straight away of….I, I , I…this is God speaking through Hosea….(READ) “I will heal their disloyalty…I will love them…because my anger has been turned away”….. The results of God healing them, loving them……are found in the poetic, flowing language of verses 5-7 (READ) ….This describes a beautiful picture of Israel’s bountiful prosperity which would result from being in a restored relationship with their God….They will blossom and their beauty will be like that of an olive tree, the dew will enable Israel’s dry climate to give life to dying grass and plants….. there is such richness in this language, in this imagery describing how Israel could have been healed….

In our last verse…verse 9 we see the message of today summarized……the message of today has been leading up to this verse….please read with me….(READ)…Here are the wise….Here are God’s standards for being wise clearly specified…..And we see it’s not just about understanding what has been outlined in our passage….there must be action…..Note the action words returning, discerning and walking……returning, discerning and walking….

In our intro today….we looked at various definitions of wisdom… such definition was having the power to judge properly what is true and right…..but being wise in God’s eyes is so much more than that…’s not just having the power to judge properly it’s actually carrying out what is true and right……And Israel….though they might have known what is true and right…..didn’t actually carry it out……one assumes that they didn’t heed to Hosea’s words…their capital city of Samaria was invaded and the people were taken captive…….they continued to stumble tragically….. And this was a pattern repeated generation after generation…..How were people to be wise in God’s standard?

Well it wasn’t actually until Yeshua, God’s only Son, came that we would see the glorious bountiful prosperity as described in verses 5 and 7. He was right with God, without sin, perfect in every single way. Yeshua dealt with the sins of the whole world when he died on the cross…..He is how we can have our guilt removed, our sins forgiven, because He took on the punishment / the wrath that God has for sin……..Israel’s, ours, our neighbors….all sin by all people. Well who are the wise? Who are those considered wise in God’s eyes? Well it’s not those necessarily who are aged, it’s not those who have knowledge about something…’s not even those who have the power to judge properly what is true and right…..It’s those who are walking in the ways of the Lord….who turn to Him….who ask for forgiveness of their sins…..knowing that Jesus has paid the price……

Well what are you relying on to save you? Your spouse? An assuring friend that says “Don’t worry, you’ll be fine”….The next charismatic world leader……Your good deeds…..The common denominator in all those is humans trying to save themselves or one …..God’s wisdom is completely opposite to the what the world says is wise that of humans or other gods…..1 Corinthians 1:18 (READ)…..what is at the very core of being saved is Yeshua dying on a cross…..which in the world’s view is utter foolishness…..yet in 1 Cor 1:20 we read that God makes foolish the wisdom of the world … human wisdom or human made thing is going to save you…..turn to God….and ask him to take away all guilt….ask for his forgiveness through Jesus and you will be saved not just for this life but for the next as well…….And understand that God’s response is unchanging to those who ask for forgiveness “I will heal their disloyalty, I will love them freely”…..all you have to do is ask….

For those who have turned to God who have been healed by Him……who have received their salvation…….understand that it doesn’t stop there……we are to keep asking for forgiveness ……as the Holy Spirit keeps working in us and convicting us of specific sins…..we need to keep confessing and being active putting to death….. sin in your life

And understand that you are living a blessed life….you will be like a blossoming lily, a deep-rooted tree, a fragrant garden…protected by God’s shade….He is the God who promises to save you and look after you… living a blessed life…..

Would you be considered wise in God’s eyes?

Servitude or Servanthood

Servitude or Servanthood


Today we are meeting in a new facility and it seems the world has shifted on its axis since the last time we met.  Members of our congregation have experienced great loss of personal items as well as the loss of friends to the ravages of Hurricane Harvey.  Harry Drennan and Elva had about 3 feet of water in their home.  Cynthia Bowen lost friends to the storm.  There is not a family in this congregation that was not touched by this storm.  It is a time to grieve for our friends and for ourselves.

There are a couple of things I would like to say about this.  It is OK to grieve.  Here in this area, there are a lot of engineers, oilfield and military folks.  I’ve heard it many times when catastrophe hits “it ain’t nothing but a thang”.  It is a mechanism for coping.  As long as no one is physically impacted then it is standard procedure to shrug off massive losses as if grieving was a sign of weakness.  I’m reminded of the Monty Python skit where the knight loses a limb and remarks that it is nothing but a flesh wound.  Losing most of the contents of a home is horrific and it is OK to mourn the loss of your stuff.

There’s another thing we need to understand about what we are going through right now.  It is OK to receive.  Many of us are not accustomed to being in a situation of need.  Perhaps we have been blessed to be in a position of giving during much of our lives.  So now we don’t know how to receive. It’s OK.  You can receive. It won’t be long before you will be able to once again bless others.

When we run into people that have needs it is important to help them retain their dignity.  Torah teaches us to help out our brother when he is in need in such a way that he can regain his footing.

Last week’s Torah portion, as well as this one recounts how Moses was instructed to take of census of all the tribes with the exception of the tribe of Levi.  The reason was to take account of how many men of military age were able to serve in the army of Israel.  Each tribe was counted, all the men from the age of 20 and older.  Notice that there was no upper limit.  There was no age at which the Lord discounted a man as unfit.  There was no retirement age.  Service in the army was mandatory.  All the men were required to be available.  The Bible records that there were just over 600,000 men available for the army. That is what I call servitude.  Mandatory service.  I am sure many of the men did not want to serve in the army.  Later on in Israel’s history the Lord allowed all who were afraid to go home.  There were other exemptions, such as the first year of marriage.

The Levites did not serve in the army, but were dedicated for service in the tabernacle.  Again, this was not optional.  The Lord said “thou shalt” and that that was it.

In recent weeks, we discussed how Yeshua taught his disciples about the virtues of being a servant rather than being a ruler.  It didn’t make a lot of sense in the natural, but Yeshua very seldom concerned himself with the things of the world.  Instead, He focused His attention on the Kingdom of Heaven rather than earthly kingdoms.

Here are some examples of Yeshua’s teaching.

Matthew 20:26  It shall not be this way among you. But whoever wants to be great among you shall be your servant,

Matthew 23:11  But the greatest among you shall be your servant.

John 12:26  If any man serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there also will My servant be. If anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.

Remember Yeshua’s example to His disciples of being a good servant by being willing to take on the lowly and sometimes unpleasant tasks of taking care of someone else.

Last night I saw an account of rescue personnel describing their rescue of elderly patients in a nursing home.  They recounted the deplorable conditions in which these poor folks lived on a daily basis and was exacerbated by the rising flood waters that eventually overflowed the nursing home and threatened their lives.  It was readily apparent that their caregivers were not displaying the love of Messiah in caring for these people.

By the same token, there are many stories coming out of this terrible storm that testify of the caring and giving spirit to which Yeshua calls us.  Yesterday I watched car after car pull up in this parking lot with families who were donating items for flood victims.  Items being donated were toys and clothing no longer needed by children who had long ago outgrown them.  But there were also massive amounts of new items that people bought solely for the purpose of giving to the less fortunate. They were showing the love of Messiah to a hurting world.

I saw a line of people that stretched for a city block in front of a distribution center.  These people were not looking for a handout.  This was a group of people standing in line to volunteer to help flood victims.

This cleanup and recovery operation will last for months.  People will get tired or will have to get back to their own jobs and families.  Today I would like to encourage those of you at Tree of life to seek out opportunities to serve.  Serve with gladness. Serve in love.  Let the light of Yeshua shine into the life of those whose lives have been darkened, battered and beaten in the last week.

When we were finally able to get back to our home this week I saw that we had been blessed by not having a great deal of damage to our home.  A couple of shingles, some tree limbs and a garden that was severely battered.  But I noticed something about my garden.  Before the storm I had massive okra plants, some with stalks 2” in diameter and almost 10 feet tall.  Almost all the plants had been blown over and their large, brilliant green leaves blown to shreds.  But on the end of the okra stalk there were pods that survived.  It did not matter to what angle the wind had driven the plant, in the three days between the storm and my return, the plants had redirected the ends that held the fruit.  The plants had twisted so as to face the sun so they could continue to produce fruit.

To me it was a testimony and a lesson.  No matter how much we may be battered, beaten or broken by the storms of life, the Son of God is there to provide hope and help.  We need only to turn our lives over to Him and he will sustain us and make us fruitful.

Today, let us determine not to live in servitude, servants because we are force to serve. But let us live in servanthood, voluntary servants, serving because we love God and want to show that love to our fellow man.

Living Water

The feasts or Moedim, were and continue to be a part of the Mosaic Law that was given to the Children of Israel by God through Moses (Exodus 12; 23:14-17; Leviticus 23; Numbers 28 & 29; and Deuteronomy 16). Moedim means appointed times.  God calls them His appointed times.  They are not just Jewish feasts. The Jewish nation was commanded by God to celebrate seven feasts over a seven-month period of time, beginning in the spring of the year and continuing through the fall.


Notice that the feasts fall into three clusters. The first three feasts Passover, Unleavened Bread, and First Fruits occur in rapid succession in the spring of the year over a period of eight days. They came to be referred to collectively as “Passover.”


The fourth feast, Shavuot, occurs fifty days later at the beginning of the summer. Today in Christian circles, this feast has come to be known by its Greek name, Pentecost, a word meaning fifty.  This feast is also when the Ruach HaKodesh, the Holy Spirit was given to the 120 disciples who were in the upper room.


The last three feasts Trumpets, Atonement, and Tabernacles extend over a period of twenty-one days in the fall of the year. The ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is known as the Days of Awe and are a time to reflect and repent.


Pesach, Shavuot, and Sukkot were the mandatory feasts that required all the men in Israel to travel to Jerusalem three times a year to offer sacrifices.


The Nature of the Feasts


Some of the feasts were related primarily to the agricultural cycle. The feast of First Fruits is a time for the presentation to God of the first fruits of the barley harvest. The feast of Shavuot is a celebration of the wheat harvest. And the feast of Tabernacles is in part a time of thanksgiving for the harvest of olives, dates, and figs.


Most of the feasts were related to past historical events. Passover, of course, celebrated the salvation the Jews experienced when the angel of death passed over the Jewish houses that were marked with the blood of a lamb. Unleavened Bread is a reminder of the swift departure from Egypt so swift that they had no time to put leaven into their bread.


Although the feasts of Shavuot and Sukkot were related to the agricultural cycle, they both had historical significance as well. Traditionally, we believe that it was on the feast day of Shavuot that God gave the Law to Moses on Mt. Sinai. And the Feast of Tabernacles is and was a yearly reminder of God’s protective care as the Children of Israel tabernacled in the wilderness for forty years.


The Spiritual Significance of the Feasts


All the feasts were related to the spiritual life of the people. Passover serves as a reminder that there is no atonement for sin apart from the shedding of blood. Unleavened Bread is a reminder of God’s call on our lives to be a people set apart to holiness. Throughout the Bible leaven has been used as a symbol of sin. We are to be unleavened, that is, holy before the nations as a witness of God.


The feast of First Fruits, or Yom HaBikkurim, is a call to consider our priorities, to make certain we are putting God first in our lives. Shavuot is a reminder that God is the source of all blessings.


The solemn assembly day of Trumpets is a reminder of the need for constant, ongoing repentance. The Day of Atonement is also a solemn assembly day a day of rest and introspection. It is a reminder of God’s promise to send a Messiah whose blood would cover the demands of the Law with the mercy of God.


In sharp contrast to Trumpets and Atonement, Tabernacles is a joyous celebration of God’s faithfulness, even when the Children of Israel were unfaithful.


The Prophetic Significance of the Feasts


What the Jewish people did not seem to realize is that all of the feasts were also symbolic types. In other words, they were prophetic in nature, each one pointing in a unique way to some aspect of the life and work of the promised Messiah.


1) Passover – Pointed to the Messiah as our Passover lamb whose blood would be shed for our sins. Yeshua was crucified on the day of preparation for the Passover, at the same time that the lambs were being slaughtered for the Passover meal that evening.


2) Unleavened Bread – Pointed to the Messiah’s sinless life, making Him the perfect sacrifice for our sins. Yeshua’s body was in the grave during the first days of this feast, like a kernel of wheat planted and waiting to burst forth as the bread of life.


3) First Fruits – Pointed to the Messiah’s resurrection as the first fruits of the righteous. Yeshua was resurrected on this very day, which is one of the reasons that Paul refers to him in I Corinthians 15:20 as the “first fruits from the dead.”


4) Shavuot or Pentecost – Pointed to the great harvest of souls, both Jew and Gentile, that would come into the kingdom of God during the Church Age. The Church was actually established on this day when the Messiah poured out the Holy Spirit and 3,000 souls responded to Peter’s first proclamation of the Gospel.


The long interval of three months between Shavuot and Trumpets pointed to the current Time of the Gentiles, a period of time that was kept as a mystery to the Hebrew prophets in Old Testament times.


That leaves us with the three fall feasts which are yet to be fulfilled in the life and work of the Messiah. Because Yeshua literally fulfilled the first four feasts and did so on the actual feast days, I think it is safe to assume that the last three will also be fulfilled and that their fulfillment will occur on the actual feast days. We cannot be certain how they will be fulfilled, but my guess is that they most likely have the following prophetic implications:


5) Trumpets – (Called Rosh Hashana today.) Points to the Rapture when the Messiah will appear in the heavens as a Bridegroom coming for His bride, the Church. The Rapture is always associated in Scripture with the blowing of a loud trumpet (I Thessalonians 4:13-18 and I Corinthians 15:52)


6) Atonement – (Called Yom Kippur today.) Points to the day of the Second Coming of Yeshua when He will return to earth. That will be the day of atonement for the Jewish remnant when they “look upon Him whom they have pierced,” repent of their sins, and receive Him as their Messiah (Zechariah 12:10 and Romans 11:1-6, 25-36).


7) Tabernacles – (Called Sukkot today.) Points to the Lord’s promise that He will once again tabernacle with His people when He returns to reign over all the world from Jerusalem (Micah 4:1-7).


One final note about the feasts. Six of them the first six are related to man’s sin and struggle to exist. The last feast, Tabernacles, is related to rest. It is the most joyous feast of the year. It looks to the past in celebration of God’s faithfulness in the wilderness. It looks to the present in celebration of the completion of the hard labor of the agricultural cycle. And it looks to the future in celebration of God’s promise to return to this earth and provide the world with rest in the form of peace, righteousness and justice.


Before we finish this review of the feasts, I want to briefly link an aspect of the feast of Tabernacles or Sukkot to a vital teaching of Yeshua.


Over the years, the various feasts had taken on some extra-biblical traditions that enhanced the experience of the celebration.  For instance, a roasted egg was added to the Passover seder to symbolize life. Chanukah was instituted about 165 years before Yeshua was born as an extension of Sukkot and to commemorate Israel’s victory over Greek occupation.  At Chanukah, huge menoras were lit and the city of Jerusalem was awash with light from the temple.

There were some customs added to Sukkot that we practice even today.  Sukkot is associated with the fall harvest and is also known as the Festival of Ingathering.  This was the time of the agricultural cycle when the vineyards were beginning to peak along with other tree fruits, such as lemons and figs.  Of course, water played a huge roll in the success or failure of their crops.


On the 8th day of Sukkot, a priest would draw some water out of the pool Siloam into a golden vessel, and then bring it into the temple with the High Priest leading the procession. As the priests approached the water gate, the shofar would be blown. This was accomplished during the time of the of the morning sacrifice, while the members of the sacrifice were on the altar; the priest would go up and pour the water mingled with wine upon the Altar. At the same time, the people would all be singing with joy Isaiah 12:1-6 (especially verse 6).

Isaiah 12:1-6  In that day you will say: “I will give You thanks, Adonai, for though You were angry with me, Your anger is turned away, and You comfort me.  (2)  Behold, God is my salvation! I will trust and will not be afraid. For the Lord Adonai is my strength and my song. He also has become my salvation.”  (3)  With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.  (4)  In that day you will say: “Give thanks to Adonai. Proclaim His Name! Declare His works to the peoples, so they remember His exalted Name.  (5)  Sing to Adonai, for He has done gloriously. Let this be known in all the earth.  (6)  Cry out and shout, inhabitant of Zion! For great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.”


On the last day of Sukkot, when the priests would bring water up from the pool of Siloam, we hear from Yeshua.

John 7:37  On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Yeshua stood up and cried out loudly, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.


It seems that all living things get thirsty.  One of our first reflexes upon being born is to drink in the mother’s milk that satisfies and sustains us in those first critical hours.  Throughout our lives we have to stay hydrated.  Being thirsty is absolutely miserable.  And carried to the ultimate conclusion, the lack of water will end our lives.


We as humans also have a thirst for other things, earthly satisfaction, fame, fortune.  But none of those things will bring lasting happiness. The more we get, the more we want.


When it comes to spiritual things human beings are wired to seek something outside themselves.  Throughout the history of mankind, we see evidence of this quest in temples, idols and ritual artifacts.  But in the end, none of these things will satisfy.  At the end of the day we are still empty and thirsty.


Yes, we are predisposed to worship.  Someone has said there is a God-sized vacuum in all of us.  The only thing that can bring us everlasting satisfaction and happiness is putting our faith and trust in Yeshua HaMashiach, Jesus, the Messiah, the Son of the One True God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  Belief in anything else will result in a life of emptiness and longing.


Yeshua said “Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture says, ‘out of his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.”


He was speaking of the Ruach HaKodesh, the Holy Spirit, that would be given initially to the 120 Believers who were cloistered in prayer.  This new manifestation of God’s love and power caused these men and women of God to overflow.  Not only were they filled with the living water, it flowed out of them in the form of languages that they never learned.  It poured out to the ears of those nearby. Peter spoke and 3000 men were immediately convinced of the deity and Messiahship of Yeshua.  This power ignited a flame that swept the world.  Mankind has never been the same since the coming of the Holy Spirit.


This was what Yeshua spoke of when he said anyone who believes in Him would have living water flow out of them. It is significant that He said “living water”, mayim chaim. Running water, literally in Hebrew “Living Water” was required for ritual cleansing and the immersion pools known as mikvahs.


Living Water, not still, stagnant, water.


Yeshua gives us living water, life, and life abundantly.


That living water is available for the asking today.  It’s a simple as repenting of your sins and walking in God’s way.  If you have been thirsty lately, now is the time to drink up from this fountain of living water provided by Yeshua. Now is the time to let the Ruach HaKodesh, God’s Holy Spirit flow through your life, make you clean and satisfy that dry, thirsty soul.

A Matter of Perspective

20170715 Parashat 91 How’s your vision?

Our Torah Portion today is Leviticus 21.  It is a list of instructions to the priests concerning ceremonial cleanliness with regard to caring for the bodies of close family members.  There are also instructions as to who a priest may marry.  There are even more restrictions on marriage for the ones would be high priests.

All the above mitzvot involved actions that a priest should or should not do, but starting verse 18, there is a list of physical defects that would prevent tabernacle of temple service.

Leviticus 21:18  Any man who has a defect is not to draw near: no one blind or lame or disfigured or deformed,

I had originally prepared a sermon that listed each one of the defects and developed a spiritual application for each one.  But at the last hour, I felt led to go in another direction.  This morning I want to draw your attention to only one of the defects.  It happens to be the first one. Blindness.

A prohibition of blindness falls into the ‘well duh’ category. It is too obvious.  You can’t have a priest stumbling around with a knife, trying to offer the sacrifices or feeling his way around in the Holy Place or the Holy of Holies.  He must be able to see. He must have vision.  Today, I want to talk about the concept of vision.  Just to make sure, it should be obvious that I’m not talking about our eyesight.

We need to have a vision for ourselves, our family and our synagogue.  Where do you want to be in the Lord this time next year?  Do you have a plan?  What about your family?  Where do you see them next year, 5 years from now, 10 years from now?  How about Tree of Life Messianic Synagogue?  Do you have a vision for us as well as your part in it?  Do you even plan to be here next year?  Do you see yourself teaching a class, leading the youth, discipling someone who just gave their life to Yeshua?  Hopefully, you don’t see yourself sitting in the same spot next year?  We need to have a vision.

Luke 11:34  Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light. But when it is sick, your body is full of darkness.

What is this passage saying? It’s saying that whatever you focus on, becomes your character. If you are always focused on the negative, you become a negative person.

This may seem like a confusing scripture but I think it is extremely important. I don’t believe that this is talking about our physical eyes notice it says “eye” not eyes.


And in verse 35 it says take heed or watch out that the light that is in you is not darkness. This is talking about our perspective or how we see or understand things. Pro.23:7 says, “As a man thinks in his heart so is he.” think- that is our understanding, how do we understand or conceive a situation that’s how you will react. Many times, the same circumstances will cause various reactions by different people-why? Because of the way each person perceives or understands the situation.

Here’s a story that illustrates the point of view concept.

One day, the father of a very wealthy family sent his son on a trip to the country with the express purpose of showing him how poor people live. The son spent a couple of days and nights on the farm of what would be considered a very poor family.

Upon the son’s return, the father asked, “How was the trip?”

“It was great, Dad.”

“Did you see how poor people live?” the father asked.

“Oh yeah,” said the son.

“So, tell me, what did you learn from the trip?” asked the father.

The son answered:

“I saw that we have one dog and they had four.

We have a pool that reaches to the middle of our garden and they have a creek that has no end.

We have imported lanterns in our garden and they have the stars at night.

Our patio reaches to the front yard and they have the whole horizon.

We have a small piece of land to live on and they have fields that go beyond our sight.

We have servants who serve us, but they serve others.

We buy our food, but they grow theirs.

We have walls around our property to protect us, they have friends to protect them.”

The boy’s father was speechless: Then his son added, “Thanks Dad for showing me how poor we are.”


I like this way of looking at things.


When other people take a long time to do something, they’re slow; when we take a long time, we’re thorough. When they don’t do something, they’re lazy; when we don’t, we’re too busy. When they succeed, they’re lucky; when we do, we deserve it.

Look at Luke 11:36.  If then your body is full of light, with no part of it dark, it will be as full of light as when a lamp gives you light with its gleam.” . This means that if we have the right perspective we will make right choices. Life is all about our choices. Probably all of us can look back at situations in our lives and realize if we would have chosen differently, things could have been better or we wouldn’t have made a series of bad mistakes.


Dr. Pierce Harris, a pastor from Atlanta, Georgia, preached to some prisoners. One of the prisoners got up and introduced himself to the others with these words: “Several years ago, two boys lived in a town in north Georgia. They went to the same school, played together and attended the same Sunday School. One dropped out of Sunday School and said that it was ‘sissy stuff.’ The other boy kept on going. One rejected Christ; the other accepted Him. The boy who rejected Christ is making this introduction today. The boy who accepted Christ is the honored preacher who will speak to us today!”


Of course, the perspective we need is God’s perspective. When we look at things through God’s revelation and perspective we respond in ways that bless us.

Let’s look at a story from Luke chapter 7.

Luke 7:36-50.  Now one of the Pharisees was asking Yeshua if He would eat with him. Upon entering the Pharisee’s home, He reclined at the table.  (37)  And behold, a woman in the town who was a sinner, when she discovered that Yeshua was reclining at the Pharisee’s home, brought an alabaster jar of perfume.  (38)  As she stood behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to drench His feet with tears and kept wiping them with her head of hair. Then she was kissing His feet and anointing them with perfume.  (39)  Now when the Pharisee who invited Him saw this, he said to himself, “If this were a prophet, He would know what sort of woman is touching Him—that she’s a sinner.”  (40)  And answering, Yeshua said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he said, “Say it, Teacher!”  (41)  “A moneylender had two debtors. One owed him five hundred denarii, but the other fifty.  (42)  When neither could repay him, he canceled both debts. So which of them will love him more?”  (43)  Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled.” “You have judged correctly,” Yeshua said.  (44)  Turning toward the woman, He said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered into your house, and you didn’t give Me water for My feet. But she has drenched My feet with tears and wiped them with her hair.  (45)  You didn’t greet Me with a kiss; but from the time she entered, she has not stopped kissing My feet.  (46)  You didn’t anoint My head with oil, but she has anointed My feet with perfume.  (47)  For this reason I tell you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven—for she loved much. But the one who is forgiven little, loves little.  (48)  He then said to her, “Your sins have been forgiven.”  (49)  But those who were reclining at table with Him began to say to one another, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?”  (50)  Then He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in shalom.”.


I really like this story. There is a lot we can see in it. What we are going to look at today is the two different perspectives shown by the Pharisee and the woman and the resulting actions caused by their perspectives. This Pharisee had such an opportunity, he had Yeshua HaMashiach at his home for dinner. But because of his perspective he really missed out. What wonderful things could have happened because Yeshua was at his house for dinner. We know that in the case of Zacchaeus, dinner with Yeshua changed his life. Yeshua declared that salvation had come to his house. Once when Yeshua was at Peter’s house Peter’s mother-in-law was healed. When Yeshua was at Mary and Martha’s house, Mary sat at His feet listening to the word and Yeshua said she had received the necessary thing: to hear the word of God. Mary got to listen to Yeshua teach at her house. Wow!! As we look at this story of the Pharisee we can think of lots of wonderful things that could have been. Even though this Pharisee had such a great opportunity, he missed out.


So, what Were the perspectives in this story?

THE PHARISEE: This Pharisee obviously thought he was “all right” as he was. That he was a good guy. According to the world’s way of looking at things he probably was.

THE WOMAN: This woman knew that she was sinful and needed a savior.

GOD’S PERSPECTIVE What is the true perspective-God’s perspective.

ROM.3:23, For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God

EPH.2:1-8.  You were dead in your trespasses and sins.  (2)  At that time, you walked in the way of this world, in conformity to the ruler of the domain of the air—the ruler of the spirit who is now operating in the sons of disobedience.  (3)  We too all lived among them in the cravings of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and the mind. By nature we were children of wrath, just like the others.  (4)  But God was rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us.  (5)  Even when we were dead in our trespasses, He made us alive together with Messiah. (By grace you have been saved!)  (6)  And He raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Messiah Yeshua—  (7)  to show in the olam ha-ba the measureless richness of His grace in kindness toward us in Messiah Yeshua.  (8)  For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not from yourselves—it is the gift of God.

This is very important because until someone realizes that they need a savior they will not want Yeshua.

MARK 2:17. “Those who are healthy have no need for a doctor, but those who are sick do. I did not come to call the righteous, but the sinful.”

This doesn’t mean that some people are not sinners it means that people must recognize that they are and that they need a Savior.


LUKE 18:9-14. (Pharisee and Tax Collector) God is ready though the blood of Yeshua to save anyone who will realize that they are sinful and in need of saving. If anyone thinks that they are good enough on their own they make it impossible to for God to save them because they reject Yeshua. We must never forget that without Christ we would be lost.

VIEW FROM ETERNITY: This Pharisee thought he could make it to heaven on his own. There are many twists on this today. Many people feel that since God is good , He would not send any one to hell. In reality God doesn’t send them, people choose to go when they reject God’s plan of salvation. Some people think there is no eternity, you just die. This Pharisee must have thought that his being a Pharisee would get him to heaven. There are lots of religions today that teach that if you are baptized a member of their church that you will go to heaven. This woman on the other hand knew her only hope was God’s mercy and God’s way. She was looking to Yeshua for hope.


Again this is so important. You can find all kinds of opinions that will tickle your ears but here is the bottom line God is the one who makes those decisions. Isn’t it smart to look to Him to find the truth. Is there a heaven and hell? MARK 9:43-48. Yeshua was the biggest hell fire and brimstone preacher in the Bible because He doesn’t want anyone to go there. Two very important things we can see here is that there definitely is a real place of torment called hell. Heaven is real according to God’s word. Why would anyone want to miss out on heaven. Those who reject God’s offer of heaven will have to go to hell. The souls that He loves that reject Him will not have another chance JOHN 14:1-3. God made the earth in six days, and He has been working on heaven this long, it’s going to be great.

YESHUA: The Pharisee thought of Yeshua as just a man. Our scripture says he didn’t even treat Him with the same respect that other guests of those days received. The woman saw Him as her Savior. What a difference it makes. What does God say about it?

JOHN 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life! No one comes to the Father except through Me.

JOHN 11:25, I am the resurrection and the life! Whoever believes in Me, even if he dies, shall live.

JOHN 8:58, “Amen, amen I tell you, before Abraham was, I am!”

JOHN 8:24, If you don’t believe that I am, you will die in your sins.


1 John 5:11-13  And the testimony is this—that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.  (12)  The one who has the Son has life; the one who does not have Ben-Elohim does not have life.  (13)  I wrote these things to you who believe in the name of Ben-Elohim, so you may know that you have eternal life.


MATT. 16:13-18. When Yeshua came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”  (14)  They answered, “Some say John the Immerser, others say Elijah, and still others say Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.”  (15)  He said, “But who do you say I am?”  (16)  Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”  (17)  Yeshua said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven!  (18)  And I also tell you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My community; and the gates of Sheol will not overpower it.

God’s revelation or perspective is very important. We have the choice to believe whatever we choose but if we choose to look at things with God’s view point we are blessed. Blessed means, “empowered to prosper.”


Let’s look at the responses caused by their perspectives.


The Pharisee took his acquaintance with Yeshua very lightly. He didn’t have a desire to serve Him. He didn’t consider it very special to be around Yeshua. He was critical of Yeshua. He was prideful when it came to others. He didn’t put any effort into getting to know Yeshua. He didn’t consider being with Yeshua as special.

The woman on the other hand found being with Yeshua so precious that she risked ridicule and insult to be with Him. She pursued Yeshua. This woman loved Yeshua. She brought Him costly perfume. She humbled herself before Him. What she did was beautiful worship. Her concern wasn’t in someone seeing her or what others thought of her. Her desire was to worship and please Yeshua.


My question is, what is our perspective? Our lives will show the view we hold. We might say we love Yeshua but are we like this Pharisee? Many times, people who call themselves Christians are very much like this Pharisee. What place do the things of God hold in Our lives? Do we have a desire to worship? Do we love spending time with Yeshua? Is His word important to us? Do we look down on others because we feel we are better? How much time do we give to the Lord? Will we take ridicule to be associated with Yeshua? Will we serve Him? Will we worship Him even when others don’t? Do we love Him much? What are we doing for Yeshua? Are we just living for ourselves? Are we willing to change for Him? Are we taking opportunities to draw close to Him, or are we more interested in what’s on T.V. than spending time with Him. Our lives will show our love for Him.


We need to ask ourselves, do we have God’s perspective when it comes to ourselves. I am not saying that as Believers we should see ourselves as sinners, but we should see ourselves as God sees us, saved by the precious blood of Yeshua and if we do, our appreciation will be evident. The more I learn what God has done for me the more I desire Him and love Him. What is our perspective when it comes to eternity? Do we really believe there is a heaven and a hell? Is it a reality in our lives? Col.3: tells us then to set our minds on things above. How do we see Yeshua? Do we see Him as our only Savior?


REV.3:20. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.


Yeshua wants to spend time with you! He is knocking will you let Him come in and dine with you?


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