Tree of Life Messianic Congregation

A Fellowship of Jewish and non-Jewish Believers in Yeshua

Author: treeofl8 (page 2 of 4)

When God Says No

20180421 Parsha 128

When God says no.

I have to admit, today’s topic is a tough one. Can you imagine praying to God, pointing out all the good reasons you need this or that, only to discover that it’s not going to happen. You don’t have to look too hard to find a preacher out there online or at your local megachurch that will tell you differently. You deserve whatever you ask for. Well we need to look a little closer into that concept.
Let’s look at three fellows that didn’t get what they wanted.

Moses and the Promised Land. His Request

Deuteronomy 3:24-25 ‘O Lord Adonai, You have begun to show Your servant Your greatness and Your strong hand—for what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do deeds and mighty acts like Yours? (25) Please! Let me cross over and see the good land across the Jordan—that good hill country and the Lebanon.’
This sounds like a reasonable request. Moses had put up with the most unruly, ungrateful, uneverythingful people for 40 years. They had tested his patience at every corner. There were even revolts against his authority. I would think Moses would have no problem with this request. But I would be wrong. He was rejected.

Moses. His Rejection

Deuteronomy 3:26-28 “But Adonai was angry with me because of you, so He would not listen to me. ‘Enough!’ Adonai said to me, ‘Do not speak to Me anymore about this matter. (27) Go up to the top of Pisgah, look around to the west and the north and the south and the east, and see with your eyes—for you will not cross over this Jordan.

(28) But commission Joshua, and encourage and strengthen him, for he will cross over before this people, and he will enable them to inherit the land that you will see.’
Hashem was pretty adamant about this matter. Seems like Moses wasn’t the only one whose patience was being stretched thin.

Moses. The Reason

We read about this a few weeks ago.
Numbers 20:10-13 Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly in front of the rock. He said, “Listen now, you rebels! Must we bring you water from this rock?” (11) Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with the staff. Water gushed out and the community and its livestock drank. (12) But Adonai said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust in Me so as to esteem Me as holy in the eyes of Bnei-Yisrael, therefore you will not bring this assembly into the land that I have given to them.” (13) These are the waters of Meribah where Bnei-Yisrael contended with Moses, and where Adonai showed Himself holy among them.
With the Promised Land in sight, Moses made a critical error. After all the years of being the go-between between God and the Israelites he got angry with them and instead of giving God the glory, he took it upon himself to strike the rock. Big Mistake.

Moses. The Reaction

Moses’ reaction was one of humility, seasoned grace and obedience.
Deuteronomy 4:1-8 “Now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and ordinances that I am teaching you to do, so that you may live and go in and possess the land that Adonai the God of your fathers is giving you. (2) You must not add to the word that I am commanding you or take away from it—in order to keep the mitzvot of Adonai your God that I am commanding you. (3) Your eyes have seen what Adonai did at Baal Peor, for Adonai your God has destroyed from among you everyone who followed Baal Peor. (4) But you who held tight to Adonai your God are alive today—all of you. (5) “See, just as Adonai my God commanded me, I have taught you statutes and ordinances to do in the land that you are about to enter to possess. (6) You must keep and do them, for it is your wisdom and understanding in the eyes of the peoples, who will hear all these statutes and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ (7) For what great nation is there that has gods so near to them, as Adonai our God is whenever we call on Him? (8) What great nation is there that has statutes and ordinances that are righteous—like all of this Torah that I am setting before you today?
Instead of whining and complaining, writing a book, going on tour with it all the while blaming everyone under the sun for his inability to cross over, Moses pulled up his big boy britches and did the right thing. He instructed the people to obey God. No excuses. No more complaints. Just obedience.
We could learn lesson from this. Instead of trying to figure out a hundred different ways to get around what the Bible says, just do it. Remember that obedience is better than sacrifice. In other words, do it right the first time.

Moses. The Reward

Matthew 17:1-3 After six days, Yeshua takes with Him Peter and Jacob and John his brother, and brings them up a high mountain by themselves. (2) Now He was transfigured before them; His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. (3) And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Yeshua.

Moses eventually made it to the Promised Land. No he didn’t sneak across after Joshua and the people crossed the Jordan. Moses came back in style. He appeared with Yeshua and Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration. Possibly Mount Hermon or Mount Tabor.

King David and Building the Temple. His Request

1 Chronicles 17:1-4 After David settled in his place, David said to Nathan the prophet, “Look! I am living in a house of cedar, while the Ark of the Covenant of Adonai is under a tent.” (2) Then Nathan said to David, “Do all that is in your heart, for God is with you.”
David had a deep-down desire to build a temple and permanent dwelling for the Ark of the Covenant. According to Talmudic sources, the Tabernacle had been at Shiloh for 369 years before being captured by the Philistines at Aphek (probably Antipatris). Great Idea, right? Maybe, but God had other plans.

David. His Rejection

1 Chronicles 17:3-4 But that same night the word of God came to Nathan, saying: (4) “Go and tell David My servant, thus says Adonai, ‘You are not to build Me a house in which to dwell.
Slide 11: David. The Reason (Dusk)
1 Chronicles 22:8 But the word of Adonai came to me, saying, ‘You have shed much blood and fought many battles. You will not build a House for My Name because you have shed much blood before Me on the earth.
David was a warrior and had killed many men on the battlefield and there was also that affair with Bathsheba and the murder of Uriah, the Hittite, Bathsheba’s husband. No, God had good reason to reject David’s prayer.

David. His Reaction

1 Chronicles 29:1-3 Then King David said to the entire assembly: “My son Solomon, the one whom God has chosen, is young and inexperienced and the task is great, for the palace is not for man but for Adonai Elohim.

1 Chronicles 29:2-3 Now I have made every effort to prepare for the House of my God gold for the golden objects, silver for silver, copper for copper, iron for iron, and wood for wood; onyx stones and inlay stones, stones of antimony and variegated colors—every kind of precious stones and marble in abundance. (3) Moreover, in my devotion to the House of my God, I have given over my private treasure of gold and silver to the House of my God, in addition to all that I have already supplied for the holy House:
David spent the last years of his reign staging all the materials that would be needed to build the Temple. It was all he could do given the fact that he was not to build the temple and David was certainly smart enough at that point to not go against God’s commands.

David. His Reward

1 Chronicles 17:11-14 It will be that when your days are fulfilled to go with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, one of your own sons, and I will establish his kingdom. (12) He will build a house for Me and I will establish his throne forever. (13) I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me, I will not withdraw My lovingkindness from him, as I withdrew it from the one who ruled before you. (14) I will appoint him over My House and My kingdom forever, and his throne will be established forever.’”
David got his reward. God promised him that one of his Descendants would rule Israel forever. His Messianic Kingdom would be without end.

Paul and a physical affliction

Paul. His Request (Dawn)

2 Corinthians 12:8 I pleaded with the Lord three times about this, that it might leave me.

Paul. His Rejection

2 Corinthians 12:9a But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.”

Paul. G-d’s Reason

2 Corinthians 12:7 ESV So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations,[a] a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.

Paul was around some of the most holy, powerful men of all time, and yet God did not heal Paul by the hands of the apostles. We don’t know if they ever prayed for Paul, but we know that whatever his physical problem was, Paul took it with him to the grave.

Paul. His Reaction

Paul’s response was one of maturity.
12:9b Therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that the power of Messiah may dwell in me. 10 For Messiah’s sake, then, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in distresses, in persecutions, in calamities.

Paul. His Reward

2 Corinthians 12:10b For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Timothy 4:4-6 And they will turn away from hearing the truth and wander off to myths. (5) You, however, keep a clear mind in all things, withstand hardship, do the work of proclaiming the Good News, and fulfill your service. (6) For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come.
Paul traded physical weakness for spiritual strength. He traded a temporary fix for a reward for eternity.

Has God told you no recently? Don’t be discouraged. You are in good company. When we pray, God ALWAYS hears our prayers and ALWAYS answers them. He doesn’t always answer them in the way we think He should. If He did, then He wouldn’t be God. He would be a heavenly messenger.
It’s time to accept the fact that we don’t always get what we want when we want it. But you can rest assured. God always answers your prayers and His answer is always in your best interest whether you want to accept it or not. Trust Him. You won’t be sorry.

Out of Egypt

I hope all of you enjoyed the Pesach last night. We appreciate all the work that everyone put into making it a successful celebration of God’s Redemption. Passover is a celebration of freedom from bondage. Our people were freed from the slavery of the Pharaoh of Egypt some 3500 years ago. Passover is also a time to rejoice in the redemption for the slavery of sin.
Yeshua HaMashiach gave up his sinless life that we, both Jew and Gentile might be free from the curse of sin. Because of his sacrifice we can be free from the modern day Pharaoh.

Sad to say, but mankind today is still living a life of subjugation. We are slaves to many things. Yes, without Yeshua, we are in bondage.
You might ask what bondage are you talking about? I live in America. I’m free. Haven’t you heard of the Bill of Rights? All that might be true, but we still struggle with all kinds of issues that weigh us down and prevent us from achieving the best God has for us.

Here are a few. There are undoubtedly several others.
1. Addictions – alcohol, tobacco, porn, video gaming, gambling. These things rob you of your time, your health and your resources. They usually start out as little threads that can easily be broken when they are small, but the more you get into the addiction the stronger the chords until you are trapped.
2. Emotions – anger issues, codependence, depression. These bonds are especially dangerous to us because many of them are too embarrassing, shameful, socially taboo. It’s one of those things you hear growing up “We just don’t talk about those things”. But they need to be addressed. Emotional problems are real and they are deadly. Don’t ignore depression in yourself or in others. Again, it can be deadly.
3. Relationships – with parents, spouses, children, coworkers. Of all the bonds that hold us, perhaps our relations with people are the messiest, most misunderstood and hardest to fix. But these are the bonds that Yeshua mentioned specifically, when laying your gift on the altar, if you have something between you and your brother, then leave the gift and go fix the broken relationship. This is vital to your wellbeing. Sometimes it is difficult to separate emotional land relational bonds.
4. Finances – overwhelming debt, out of work, underemployed. I have read that the number one cause of the failure of a marriage are financial issues. Unfortunately for many people, they are never taught how to manage their finances in high school. Most HS graduates don’t know how to balance a checkbook or even write a check. You have heard the blonde jokes about the blonde girl who was arrested for writing hot checks. When she had her hearing, she told the judge, that she did not write bad checks because she still had perfectly good checks in here checkbook.
Until we got a president that understood and promoted capitalism the job market was horrible. Unemployment was way up. There were more unemployed people in the US than ever before. Things have turned around a bit, but many have not caught up with their bills from when they were unemployed.
Credit cards are a mixed blessing. As long as you can keep track of your charges and don’t charge more than what you can pay each month, then you will not have problems. However, many people do not keep track of their purchases and end up getting further and further behind in their debt. That means bondage.
5. Health – physical limitations, mental issues. Sometimes health issues will limit what we can do. Some are born with limitations while others limit themselves with poor health choices. I strongly believe that childhood vaccinations are a major cause of autism.

In Egypt, the Israelites were kept in bondage by force of arms. The Egyptians were armed and the Israelites were not. Our bonds are kept in place by much more subtle means.

Choose Victory
1. Fear of the unknown or fear of change. Many of us are held in place because we are fearful of launching out and making the changes we need to break through.
2. Personalities – how often are we held in check by people of overwhelming personal power or perceived power? We are afraid to speak up for fear of retribution.
3. Our own personal desires and perceived needs. There are those that don’t change because they don’t want to change. The concept of “but I want it” has a devastating effect on our ability to advance.
4. Health Issues. Here again we come to health. Some cannot make a change because they physically cannot overcome their physical limitations.
5. Environmental Issues. Often we cannot achieve breakthrough because we are born on the wrong side of the tracks. I was told by a medical school entrance office that I could not expect to get into medical school even though my grades were exceptional. He told me I was too old, too white, too male and too poor. Remember that this was in the late 70’s.
6. Spiritual Forces can hold us back. Paul the Apostle said it this way.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the worldly forces of this darkness, and against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.

1. Slide 8: The first step is to recognize that you have a problem. Some of you may be familiar with the 12 step program utilized by Alcoholics anonymous. This is their first step. Hi, my name is Steve and I’m an alcoholic. The first step toward repentance is to recognize that we are sinners and need a Savior.

2. Slide 9: Know from where our help comes. The Israelites would make the trek up to Jerusalem every year for Pesach. As they were climbing the mountainous paths they would often sing what we call Songs of Ascents. This helped pass the time and was an encouragement of to the traveler.

One of the Psalms of Ascents is 121:1-2

I will lift up my eyes to the mountains—from where does my help come? (2) My help comes from Adonai, Maker of heaven and earth.

We have to realize who is the author and finisher of our faith. As believers in Yeshua HaMashiach we cannot buy into the false premise of the self-made man. Without God in our lives we are nothing.

3. Understand the weapons available to you. If any of you have played many video games you know that during the quest to get from A to B, you can take on more weapons. This allows you to stay active in the game.

It is the same with our spiritual warfare. We need to know our weapons. Remember that we are not fighting a conventional battle with AR-15’s or Ak-47’s or the like. No, we are fighting in a spiritual arena. An just as we are not battling against flesh and blood, but against powers and spiritual entities, our weapons are suitable for the task.

Study the Bible constantly. Invoke the word of God when you pray.

2Co 10:4
For the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly but powerful through God for the tearing down of strongholds.

2 Timothy 1:7
For God has not given us a spirit of timidity but of power and love and self-discipline.

4. Take Action. Get up, get off the pew and do things. The Israelites had to take action in order to escape from Egypt. They had to prepare and pack. They had to go to their Egyptian neighbors and ask for things like God told them to do. They had to slaughter the lamb and put the blood on the door posts.

Not all the Israelites left Egypt. Ancient writing and midrash postulates that only 20% of the Israelite population in Egypt left with Moses.
a. Pay your tithes – the surest way to work yourself out of financial difficulties.
b. Take control of your health. Quit eating junk food. Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Don’t make the Holy Spirit live in a cardboard shack.
c. Mend those relationships. Get rid of your anger.

James 1:19-20
Know this, my dear brothers and sisters: let every person be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger— (20) for human anger doesn’t produce the righteousness of God.

The story of the Exodus is a good guide for us today. It is a story of hardship and struggle. It is a story of failure brought on by unbelief. But it is also a story of triumph. It is the story of what can happen when a people cries out to God and then has the courage to step out in faith against overwhelming odds. It is a story of redemption.

Cities of Refuge

The Torah portion for today describes a rather strange phenomenon that doesn’t exist today in this form. The institution of Cities of Refuge was implemented by God to show mercy in a world where sometimes mercy and a second chance was in short supply.

Thomas Dorsey was a black jazz musician from Atlanta who was known in the early 1920’s for the suggestive lyrics he combined with original music. Then God touched his life and in 1926 he gave up the suggestive music and began to write spiritual music. In 1932 times were hard for Dorsey as they were for nearly everyone trying to survive the depression. Perhaps it was because of his past music and his also his musical style some said his music was too worldly. The most difficult night of his life came one night in St. Louis when he received a telegram telling him that his pregnant wife had suddenly died. Dorsey was filled with grief and his faith was shaken, but instead of wallowing in self-pity, he expressed his agony the only way he knew how. He wrote this song. . .
Precious Lord, take my hand, Lead me on, let me stand.
I am tired, I am weak, I am worn. Through the storm, through the night, Lead me on to the light; Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home.

In spite of Dorsey’s checkered past he experienced God’s presence during that crises. That song which came out of his pain and grief has comforted and challenged thousands of people since then because if we are honest, most of us have had a moment, or two or three when God’s presence was all that could get us through.
Let’s be honest about something else as well, we don’t really deserve all God’s faithfulness, because if we are honest, all of us will have to admit we haven’t always been faithful to Him.
I know that about you because I haven’t always been faithful either. But I’m glad to tell you this morning that, “God Gives Second Chances.” I’ll show you what I mean. Let’s read our Joshua 20 together this morning.

In addition to our Torah Portion, we see in Joshua 20:1-9 how the Cities of Refuge were put into law.

Then Adonai spoke to Joshua saying, (2) “Speak to Bnei-Yisrael saying, ‘Designate your cities of refuge, about which I spoke to you through Moses. (3) So the manslayer who kills any person by mistake and without premeditation may flee there. They will be your refuge from the avenger of blood. (4) When one flees to one of those cities, he must stand at the entrance of the gate of the city and state his case in the hearing of the elders of that city. Then they are to take him into their city and give him a place to live among them.

(5) Now if the blood avenger pursues him, then they will not hand the manslayer over to him, since he killed his neighbor without premeditation and did not hate him beforehand. (6) So he will stay in that city until he can stand trial before the congregation, or until the death of the kohen gadol in those days. Then the manslayer may return to his own city and to his own house, to the city from which he had fled.’” (7)

So they set apart Kedesh in Galilee in the hill country of Naphtali, Shechem in the hill country of Ephraim, and Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron) in the hill country of Judah. (8) Across the Jordan east of Jericho, they designated Bezer in the wilderness on the tableland from the tribe of Reuben, Ramoth in Gilead from the tribe of Gad, and Golan in Bashan from the tribe of Manasseh. (9) These were the appointed cities for all Bnei-Yisrael and for the outsider who is dwelling among them, so that whoever kills any person unintentionally might flee there and not die by the hand of the blood avenger, before standing trial before the congregation.
Here is a map of the cities as set up by Joshua.

In the ancient middle east the laws of the land were somewhat primitive by today’s standards. The ancient law was called LEX TALIONIS and basically it was the law of retribution. It’s the old “eye for and eye, and tooth for a tooth” mentality. That sentiment still exists to some degree in the Muslim areas of the world today.
The law went something like this. If you were working with someone and unintentionally killed that person, then his clansmen (sometimes called the avenger of blood) could apprehend you and put you to death. Today we would call that involuntary manslaughter. An example would be a negligent driver texting or perhaps impaired by alcohol getting into an automobile and crashing it into another vehicle or a tree resulting in the death of someone else. The penalty today can be severe, but it is never the death penalty.
God gave Israel a way to mitigate the customs of the land while still maintaining the idea that life is precious and the taking of life, even accidentally is serious. Life was hard in those days. Just because a baby made it all the way to birth didn’t mean that it would survive to adulthood. Disease and lack of adequate food often took its toll on family life. So the idea of losing one’s life due to the negligence of another was particularly odious. You can see why this practice was in effect.
But God is a merciful God. He set up these cities so that one who was involved in a deadly encounter could flee to there and find refuge. There were some conditions though that helped prevent the cities of refuge from becoming the refuge of murderers. The party had to present his case to the town council. Then if his case was compelling enough and didn’t involve actual malice aforethought, or as we would say, the death was not premeditated, the individual was granted a temporary asylum until a proper trial could be conducted or until the High Priest died.
If the person was tried and found guilty of murder rather than manslaughter, then he was turned over to the avenger and put to death. However, if the city leaders found that he had no malice or intent to cause the death of another person, he would be granted asylum.
What that meant was that the person had to stay within the confines of the city. If he left the city walls, then he was no longer protected. So we can see that even though there is mercy, there still are consequences.

What does all this have to do with us today? There are no cities of refuge, although there is a movement afoot to become sanctuary cities. Sanctuary cities are nothing more than attempts by the Democrat party to shelter lawbreakers until such time that they can somehow either legally or illegally vote and preserve the power base of the Democrats.
No, we have a much better refuge than that. We have Yeshua HaMashiach as our refuge. When we have fallen short, and we all do, we can go to the Son of God, our refuge and find forgiveness. We can find peace. We can find a second chance. Even though, because of what we have done, we have consequences, we can find refuge.
God made a way that his banished can find an opportunity to have right standing before the Almighty.
The cities of refuge were established before they were needed. Yeshua was slain before the foundations of the earth. God knew that we would need a savior.
The cities of refuge were available to Jew and gentile alike. Salvation from Yeshua is available to all. Whosoever.
The cities of refuge were always open to those who needed it. Yeshua is always available to meet the needs of those in trouble.
Do you need a place of refuge today? He’s waiting for you. In ancient Israel, a man had to stay in the city until the High Priest died. He was safe. Our High Priest is alive forever more and will not die. So we have refuge as long as we stay anchored in Him.


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?

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