Worship God in Spirit and Truth – 20 Dec 2003

(Modified Dec 15, 2017)

Jude 3 – contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints
Mt 5:14-16  we are light to be seen, and to honor the true Light source
–light to be seen publicly
–draws attention for friend and foe

The Feast of Dedication (Hanukkah) reminds us of the battle within Israel amongst the Jewish people over the worship of God in the Temple.  This was about 160 years before Jesus was born.  The LORD helped the Maccabees win the victory to re-establish the worship of God according to the truth as understood under the Law and the Prophets.  And the LORD was with them in the victory!  But the Maccabees, too, were but men like us, and before long, the decline reached to the point of no return.  There remained a remnant that sought true freedom, not only from the Roman powers which the Maccabees invited into Israel, but freedom to worship God with all their hearts, soul, mind, and strength, and to see Israel redeemed from all her unrighteousness. Continue reading “Worship God in Spirit and Truth – 20 Dec 2003”

The Wall of Separation He’s Broken Down

Lev. 10:3 By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy, and before all the people I must be honored.

Eph 2:11-12 As we continue to let the Tabernacle in the Desert instruct us of God’s pattern for us to approach Him in prayer, the passage from Ephesians notes “the middle wall of separation”, which separated Israel from the other nations.  God in His wisdom separated the people He had chosen and called to Himself from the surrounding heathen peoples of the world in which they lived.  In spiritual reality, the gentiles then were without Messiah, aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.  Israel/the Jewish people are in a similar spiritual condition as the gentiles then, but there is a difference:  Israel is still the nation chosen by God, even if there is a willful collective amnesia regarding that and its significance. Continue reading “The Wall of Separation He’s Broken Down”

The Incarnation – 21 Dec 2002

John 3:13 (5-21) The Son of Man has descended from — and ascended to — Heaven

There are well-meaning dear brothers and sisters in Messiah who do not celebrate the birth of the Savior at this time of year.  They have their reasons for this, just as I once did.  The danger, however, is that we will harden our hearts from being able to rejoice at all in the birth of Yeshua – from singing the great songs of Heaven over His coming into the world He made to redeem people like you and me and them.

Jesus came into the world to defeat the works of the devil, and so give hope and joy to persons who are looking and waiting for salvation and redemption from futility and despair.  God came in the weakness of flesh and blood to deal a death blow to spiritual forces of wickedness who are oppressing the whole creation of a loving and good Father. Continue reading “The Incarnation – 21 Dec 2002”

God Still Faithful When His People Are Not – 23 Feb 2002

The Scroll of Esther is read in the synagogues every year for Purim.  If you do not know the story of the history, read it at home.  The Purim celebrations  by Jews around the world today are far from the manner prescribed by Mordecai and Esther almost 2500 years ago.  What is remarkable, though, is that his holiday is still being observed:  it still has relevance for us today, even as believers in Jesus.  Purim is not one of the appointed times given by YHVH to Israel, but a set time by His people in appreciation of God’s sovereignty – even though they did not acknowledge Him personally – and this holiday of the Jewish people was accepted by the Lord.

We – and the rest of humanity – place ourselves in danger when we ignore God’s voice and His mighty deeds which ascribe glory to Him alone.  The holiday of Purim reminds us of this real and present danger when God’s people – the Jews and Christians– ignore His grace and faithfulness to His purposes of redemption.  (The Holocaust is another grave reminder of failing to heed the Providence of the LORD to keep His prophetic and covenantal promises).  The LORD remains faithful in His love and for His Holy Name’s sake, even when we do not. Continue reading “God Still Faithful When His People Are Not – 23 Feb 2002”

A Time for Hope, A Time for Joy

Rom. 5:1-11

As members of the Body of Messiah — in the world today and of those who have believed during the last two thousand years — there is something special at this season of the birth of the Savior, Yeshua the Son of David.  It is similar to that specialness when Jewish people — around the world today and since the time of the Exodus from Egypt about 3450 years ago — celebrate the Passover.  It does not require either the Christian or the Jew to be a believer to anticipate these special holidays each year.  Families, relatives, and friends share together something extraordinary in their history as a people that has impacted not only their own culture, but of the whole world.  They are times of inclusion.  Because of this, these can be the saddest times of the year for many Jews and Christians who are alone, or who feel rejected and unloved.  In their souls they know that they are supposed to be a part of something bigger than themselves and to celebrate, especially with others in the family.

It is the blessing and inheritance of the believer to really celebrate these holidays. Continue reading “A Time for Hope, A Time for Joy”

THE BEATITUDES: THE MERCIFUL; THE PURE IN HEART; THE PEACEMAKERS

In His sermon on the mount (and on the plain), Jesus begins by teaching His disciples firstly — and any others who would take heed — the way of blessedness, the way of Godliness, the way of the Lamb of God.  He does not say, “go do, or go act in such-and-such a manner in order to be blessed.”  But rather, our Lord teaches by word and example that if we are such-and-such we are blessed.  The beatitudes describe the spirit and character of a person, not their accomplishments or their dutiful keeping of commandments.

The poor in spirit are those who have humbled themselves and acknowledge their own helplessness; those who mourn are those who sorrow and regret over their own sinfulness — and of their own families and nations; the meek war against sin and unrighteousness for Yeshua’s sake, who died on account of our sin, and rose from the dead to set people free from the curse and judgment of sin.  Continue reading “THE BEATITUDES: THE MERCIFUL; THE PURE IN HEART; THE PEACEMAKERS”

THE BEATITUDES: THE MEEK AND HUNGRY

Mt. 5:5    Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Meekness is a fruit of the Spirit of God in the believer, which follows as we have humbled ourselves to admit we are helpless in our own selves, and are sorrowful over our own sinfulness in the light of God’s holiness.  Rather than driving us into the desert or a monastery to supposedly escape the sin and evil in the world, the blessedness of the meek is that they will inherit the earth (Ps. 37: 9-11,22,29, 34).  This is a promise of future hope, which has a present application:  the earth belongs to the LORD and to the sons of Adam who have put their faith and trust in God through Jesus Christ.  We can enjoy the earth now because Jesus has redeemed it for God.  We take care of it –rather than destroy it– because we love it for His sake.  The creation itself looks forward to its Jubilee freedom and Sabbath rest when the Lord Jesus returns to bring God’s Kingdom to the world. Continue reading “THE BEATITUDES: THE MEEK AND HUNGRY”

THE BEATITUDES: THE POOR AND SORROWFUL

Blessedness is the spiritual state of the person who fears the God and does His will, and who puts his trust in Jesus.  It is the well-being and joy of those who share in the salvation of God and so are citizens of His Kingdom.  The source of blessedness is in Messiah from God.

The spiritual desire for these attributes of blessedness which Jesus gives is both the condition of divine blessedness and also the result of blessedness — God’s indwelling of the human heart.  “Both He that sanctifies and they who are sanctified are all of one, for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren.” (Heb. 2:11)  There is unity, oneness as we are joined to the Lord in identity and purpose (1Cor. 6:17).

Mt. 5:3    Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs (of them) is the Kingdom of Heaven.
Lk. 6:20  Blessed are ye poor, for yours is the Kingdom of God.   Continue reading “THE BEATITUDES: THE POOR AND SORROWFUL”

THE BEATITUDES (with thanks to Spiro Zodhiates, The Beatitudes)

Mt. 5:1-12; Lk 6:20-26     Blessed . . .
Gen. 17:1      I am El-Shaddai; walk before Me and be blameless

What are we pursuing in life?:  a comfortable life without problems?; or enough money to take care of any problems which we may have?; maybe a quiet life, or perhaps we want to succeed and be the best builder or the best athlete because someone once said to you (or me) that you will never be good at anything. . .  and you want to prove them wrong.  In a word, we want to be happy, and we seek it by pursuing those things which we believe will bring us this sense of happiness.  This pursuit touches our personal, family, and social identity and sense of well-being.

I remember that some years before I was saved, someone said to me, “If you had three wishes, what would they be?”  My answer was only one, “to be happy, but I do not know what it would take to make me happy, so whatever it would be, that is what I wish!”  Later on, when I repented and believed in Jesus as Lord and Messiah, God fulfilled my “wish”!  In Christ I found my “blessedness”, far better than some worldly happiness.  Continue reading “THE BEATITUDES (with thanks to Spiro Zodhiates, The Beatitudes)”

Spiritual Leprosy – Memorial of Trumpets

Mt. 8:1-4     . . .behold, there came a leper and he worshipped Him [Yeshua], saying, ‘Lord, if you are willing, You can make me clean’.  And He [Yeshua] stretched forth His hand, and touched him, saying, ‘I am willing; be cleansed!  And immediately his leprosy was cleansed (healed).

Is. 53:4       Surely He [the Arm of the LORD] has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.

Rosh Hashana, or the Memorial of Blowing of Trumpets, is the first set time of YHVH after the giving of the Law at Shavuot to Israel.  For New Testament believers in Jesus as Lord and Messiah, for us too at this point in history approaching the return of the Lord Jesus in great power and great glory, it is a new season after the long intervening ‘summer’ since the Holy Spirit gave birth to the Church, putting God’s law in our hearts and minds. Continue reading “Spiritual Leprosy – Memorial of Trumpets”