ISRAELIS BECOMING MORE RELIGIOUS – 13 Sept 2010

Greetings in the goodness of our God.

It is still summer, and not only is Israel still not saved, but the summer-time-clock has ended, and we are back on standard time.  With all the different time zones and arbitrary time changes, Yeshua knew what He was saying when He said that we can not know the day and hour of His coming!  Praise God that He knows how to keep His own time!!

An interesting survey taken by the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics was published today in the Israeli newspapers, which shows that more Israelis are becoming more religious.  Less than half the population – 42% –  (according to survey statistical measurements ) consider themselves secular.  Most of those surveyed say that they have become “more religious” than they had been before.  The survey broke down the Jewish people into 5 categories:  ultra-orthodox; religious; traditional-religious; traditional, but not religious; secular.

Just yesterday, I was speaking with a new believer about how there is religious revival all around the world in all the religions.  Acts 17:26-31  “And [God] has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the Earth, and has determined their pre-appointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own [Greek] poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’  Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising.  Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained.  He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from among the dead!”

True and full repentance and revival comes when people come back to the living God Himself, and this is only through His Son, the Lord Yeshua Messiah/Jesus Christ.  There are many ways to come to Jesus; but there is only one way to come to the Father.

The verses quoted above gave me another way of thinking what it means to take the gospel “to the Jew first, and then to the Greeks” (which is the actual Holy Spirit inspired word in the text, not ‘Gentiles’), or that the gospel is “the power of God unto salvation to the Jew first, and also of the Greeks”.  Not everyone necessarily meets or knows or has an opportunity to witness to an actual Jewish person, or to a Greek.  But everyone — and every believer — does know in their own cultures those who are “religious”, and who think that they are more righteous than those who are not; and also those who “philosophize” and “politicize”, who consider the creation and possibility of “gods” or “a god”, but have no “Rock” to stand on.  (I am speaking very generally here.)  It seems that those to whom the gospel first goes are to these “religious, whose righteousness is of law”, and to those who think on “eternal” things, but do not have a rudder to keep them on a steady and clear course.  These “Jews” and “Greeks” have a sense of a “Judge”, a concern for accountable government,  and a hope to attain the world to come by their “good works” and traditions, and by their “good ideas, worldly wisdom, and politics”.  Each in some measure have a fear of God, even if He is unknown to them personally, but hope that should He actually exist, that He would find favor with them.

But even the actual Jewish people have to repent and be born-again through saving faith in Yeshua; even Cornelius — a God-fearing [Roman] military man —  had to learn the way of salvation through the God of Israel’s Messiah for the Jews, and also for the “good person”; and Paul felt the unction to reveal the true and personal God to the Greeks who only knew of Him as a rumor.  And the issue has to do with Jesus coming again to judge the world in righteousness!  Hallelu-Yah, say all the saints! 

Turning to religion is a step in the right direction for some people, and a falling away for others.  The religious spirit is opposed to the liberty which comes to those whose faith is anchored in the truth of the gospel.  The gospel is neither Jewish nor Greek; it is neither religious nor political nor military; it is neither right nor left.  May we see many more of the Jews and of the Greeks, and also of those “who were not initially invited”, come into the Father’s house!

This week, the Jewish people are preparing for the holiest day of the year in Judaism — the Day of Atonements.  In the survey, most of the Israelis, including the secular, go to the synagogue on that day, if they ever go at all.  My family did the same as we grew up in Conservative Judaism in the U.S.  Let us pray for their eyes to be opened, and their hearts to be stirred.  In the wonderful sovereignty of God and the authority which Yeshua has over His own countrymen, the Book of Jonah is read in the synagogues on Yom Ha-Kippurim (The Day of Atonements)!  Yeshua said that Jonah — a prophet from the Galilee —  is the only sign He would give them to prove who He is!  Our Lord and God reigns, even in Israel!

God bless you all, and praise Him that our names are already written in the Lamb’s Book of Life in Heaven!

THE WAY OF THE CROSS – 3 Sep 2010

Phlp 3:8-21   . . .fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; . . .follow our example,    not those who are enemies of the cross  

Lk 14:27   Whosoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.   

As believers we are called to a close and intimate walk with the Lord Jesus Christ – the LAMB OF GOD; the SACRIFICIAL LAMB – who came to show us the WAY to God the Father.  Jesus/Yeshua IS THE WAY!   

This call to be a DISCIPLE is to all of us, but we learn from the N.T., including the verses we have read, that not all believers become disciples.  Not all believers are overcomers.  Not all believers produce the same amount of fruit.  THESE ARE NOT ISSUES OF OUR SALVATION BEING ASSURED THROUGH TRUE FAITH IN JESUS!   

But there is something crucial in the life and experience of Jesus that we must identify with, and that is His suffering (isurim – moral, redemptive discipline), which is possible only as we know Him in the power of His resurrection, and the hope that gives to all who believe.  I do not mean here, nor do I believe that we are taught by the Holy Spirit, to deliberately  suffer physically in order to identify or participate in His sufferings.  Some Christians beat themselves on their backs in an effort to “fellowship in Messiah’s sufferings”, or they deny themselves by subjecting themselves to regulations of deprivation. (Col 2:20-23)  This is not what I mean, whatever else I am meaning.   

We have been studying the parables of Yeshua as He uses them to teach the mysteries of the Kingdomof God.  What we have begun to see is that there is evil at work within God’s kingdom at the present time – evil which is being allowed by God until the end.  What I want to suggest is that this in itself is a/the source of Messiah’s sufferings. . .and of ours as we fellowship in them as being one with Him. 

Let’s just look at a few things to help understand a bit more:

1.  Yeshua came in human form to be crucified to take away the sin of the world, to receive forgiveness from God for our sins, and to defeat the works of the devil.   This suffering of death and separation from God His Father is beyond our comprehension, yet we join together this evening in the Lord’s Supper, it is HIS DEATH that we remember until He comes.  

2.  God is GOOD, yet the devil has worked much to have most people think otherwise.  This is the suffering of a grieving heart.  

3.  God is LIGHT, yet Jesus tells us that too many people prefer the darkness because their deeds are evil.  This is suffering over the hardness of the human heart.  

4.  God is LOVE, yet most people reject His love, and turn love into a ‘me first’ mentality, and an act of the flesh.  

5.  God has GOOD NEWS of a Savior and of salvation, but most people are not really interested.  

6.  The WORD OF GOD IS TRUTH, but most people treat it as an opinion, or as something to ignore.  

7.  JESUS CHRIST IS LORD, yet Satan works to steal the glory for himself, or for mere men.

8.  YHVH God and Jesus are blamed for the horrible state of the world, rather than blaming ourselves and the devil.  

9.  Constantly confronted with opposition from sinners, serving as a chastening for the children of God  (Heb 12:1-11).  How many times are we tried by those around us who are, in fact, sinning, and at other times simply by those brothers and sisters whose ways irritate us:  they are “sinning”.  God our Father uses these experiences to teach us obedience as sons/daughters to learn to obey Him in a redemptive way to conform us to the image of His Son.  

10.  Too many within Israel and the Church – both being the ‘people of God’ – do not even feel the pain, the suffering, over the bad name our Great God and Savior has in the world which He made, and for whom He died to make possible the perfect new creation for eternal life with Him. 

11.  Jesus is coming again to bring the Kingdom of God to Earth as in Heaven, but many in the Church are making their own plans and agendas as if His coming is only a possibility, not a certainty.  The government will be on HIS shoulder, and without Him we can do nothing to truly fulfill God’s purposes.  

12.  “How long must I suffer you!” (Mt 17:17; Mk 9:19; Lk 9:41)  This is the Messiah our Lord Himself expressing His human exasperation over the continual unbelief of even His disciples.  Praise God for His longsuffering towards us!  

Brothers and sisters, our Lord and God loves us and is calling us to fully identify with Him, neither being ashamed or afraid or indifferent.  Our salvation is assured if we have truly repented and put our whole-hearted trust in God that Jesus died on the cross, shedding His blood for us and for our sins, and He is risen from the dead, alive forevermore!  Our walk with the Lamb is not intended to be ‘comfortable’, and certainly not to be taken for granted.  We learn these things from the parables and from all the other teachings in the Scriptures.  

Our confidence grows as our feelings and relationship grow – both with the Lord Himself through the Holy Spirit, and also with our brothers and sisters in the faith.  If we do not love one another, then neither do we love the Father or His only-begotten Son.  Our faith is not only a personal matter between me and God, but must be seen in my love for one another in Christ, and for them who are still lost.  

Heb 10:19-35   

There is security for those who commit themselves fully to the Lord and to our redemptive suffering for His sake.  The appointed time of the Memorial of Blowing of Trumpets begins soon.  God is calling His people to gather together as a people, as a family, and to repentance – not just one day or period of days each year, but everyday — preparing ourselves to be fully in His presence.