A’S DEDICATION – 31 Dec 2011

–We have been in Israel for more than 30 years now, and I have to admit that when we came, I did not expect to be a grandfather – I wasn’t even a father then!  That changed 26 years ago, when our first daughter was born.

–Before coming to faith I thought about the significance of the beginning of a new year.  What is important to us as Jews and new years in general?  Someone is watching over us . . . and  preserving us. (Ps 121:4)  Another year of life.  I thank God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ that He is the Watcher over Israel, the Preserver of our souls!

–Great joy for us that A, a new soul, has come into our life through R and J, and that God is with them, that their house is under the grace of the New Covenant.  I did not grow up in such a household, but I thank the Lord for His hand upon us and them.  Today J and R want to dedicate A to God in Yeshua’s name as a token of their faith in Him and in His covenant. (Ex 13:2; 1Cor 7:14)

 –I want to share some thoughts which I had during Randi’s first birth, including the birth pains and the birth process, as well as the expectation of parenthood: 

    Ps 139:13-17   Fearfully, wonderfully made; from almost nothing to a living person; creation of God; true miracle.  Bones, mind, brain, senses, eyes, speech:  Something only the living God could do!  When I saw the head of the child (not knowing yet who “it” was), it was just a joy to realize the manner of our coming into the world, that God designed this way to do this!  Truly, as it is written, nothing clean can be born of a woman! (Lev 12; Ps 51:5 [7 Heb])  And yet how lovely and wonderful!

    Rom 8:16-25   All creation experiencing labor pains.  Can’t we feel them now?  Jesus tells us that the last days leading up to His coming back will be like that.  Some of us prepare in advance for the birth of our babies and for the post-birth period.  Are we preparing ourselves for the process coming upon the world until such time as the Lord takes us?  Are we placing our faith and obedience and trust in God to see us through the birth as well as to enable us to be of help to others?  While with Randi during the birth, I was impressed with the controlled yet increasingly difficult contractions.  I knew that God had designed this way and was encouraged that He was in control.  It may vary for each woman and     each birth.  We need to help one another believe in our hearts that the Lord will guide us through. (1Tim 2:15)

    Gen 3:16,20   Pain and sorrow in childbirth for the mother, out of which springs forth life!  Life from the dead; bread from the earth.  And her name is Eve, because she is the mother of all the living.  Christ and the Church!  Grace, blessing, joy!

    Gen 5:3   Children are born in image of their parents – physically, emotionally, spiritually.  All are born in separation from God due to inherited sin.  A is a little sinner who needs a Savior!  She needs to know Jesus Christ as her own Savior and Lord.  R and J are entrusted with responsibility to train up A in such a way as to lead her to Messiah.  Only in Him will she be restored to the image of God in the likeness of His holy and righteous character by the power and life of the blood  and the Spirit and the Word of God in her life.  Just as God gave His Torah (instruction, laws, rules) to teach Israel of their sinful nature and consequences so that they might know their need of God’s  mercy and grace in His love, so I think we have an example in this to instruct our children that they will not only recognize their need of God’s salvation, but also to want it – to want Him, who is a much better parent than we can ever hope to be.  R and J gave their daughter the name A – ‘my Father is YAH’; God gave His Son the name Yeshua (Jesus), because He will save His people from their sins.

Our heavenly Father is our pattern, yet they also need His grace to raise A.  He forgives our sins as parents when we do not do or can not do all that His Word requires.  Yet they want A to honor them – for her own benefit as well as theirs – so they must trust the Lord to help them be worthy of her honor.  Our Father in Heaven is the perfect Father, and sadly most do not yet know Him as their Father, rejecting Him and His love.  This relieves us as mothers and fathers of a great burden and of any overwhelming guilt, and we can rest in His love and grace as we seek to know and to do His will.

    Gen 18:19   Command children in the way of YHVH.  What is the way of YHVHEach child is different and we must consider them individually accordingly.

 Jesus says that He is the Way:  to the Father, to the Kingdom of God, to salvation and eternal life.  What is His way?  The way of the cross; of dying unto death; of willing, whole-hearted obedience and trust in His Father in Heaven; of love, sacrificing Himself for sinners and enemies to deliver us out of an evil world into that which is really life.  He humbled Himself in service in His holy love, for the cross is God’s judgment upon sin and its works.  Jesus humbled Himself and God has exalted Him.  He is risen from the dead and awaits His return to sit on His throne to bring peace to Earth through righteousness!

    2Pet 3:9-15   Knowing that the day is near, then how do we want to prepare ourselves and our children.  Nothing is better for J and R and for A but that the Lord Jesus will return.  Satan is the god of this world until the Lord is here.  What can be worse than the devil ruling?!  What could possibly be better than Jesus ruling?!  No matter what our current blessings or troubles, whether in  our personal lives or in society or in the nation or anywhere in the world, the day is near when the Kingdom of God will destroy all the kingdoms of this world and the fruit of them.  We pray that we will be ready for His appearing.

We ask today for prayer for J and R that God give them the wisdom to train up A in His way, and that she know that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father!

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

JESUS CHRIST, THE FRIEND OF WOMEN – 27 Dec 2011

In recent days and weeks, certain sects within the ultra-orthodox Jewish religious community, especially in Jerusalem and in Beit Shemesh, have openly displayed their utter contempt towards women.  This manifests a similar spirit seen in Islam, and is also the attitude of the antichrist. (Dan 11:37; 2Tim 3:3)  This contemptible behavior is in accord with the prayer in the Talmud (the sacred oral law and tradition of rabbinic Judaism), in which the men thank God for not making them women!

The Law of Moses, with all its seeming inequalities between males and females, nonetheless elevates women to a far higher status than in the laws and customs of the gentile nations of those times.  In the New Testament, brought in with the gospel (good news) of Jesus Christ, God further elevated the status and dignity of women, seen in numerous verses and passages throughout the gospels and epistles.  There are still differences in matters of priorities and service, but males and females are completely equal and loved in God’s estimation, and both are being converted into the image of the Son of God.  All are priests of God in Messiah; the Body of Christ is the Bride of the Lamb; husbands are admonished and commanded to love their wives as themselves.

The Gospel of Luke especially shows the Lord Jesus as a friend of downtrodden women, downcast women, widows, even of fallen and sinful women.  His whole manner and attitude towards women was one of utmost respect and mercy.  The Holy Spirit lifts the head of women to a station of honor, in which they do not need to feel less than men and put down, but can find their fulfillment in that for which God created and redeemed them to bring honor and glory to the LORD first of all, and to their husbands, if they are married. (Prov 31)  The contempt of darkened religious perversion of the love and truth of God toward women has no place in the heart and mind of men who also know the love and humility of the Lion of the Tribe of Judah who comes as the Lamb of God.

May many Jewish and Muslim women begin to look to the true God of Heaven and Earth for their joy and hope of salvation from the oppression, subjugation, and hatred which they suffer under, and find their liberty and dignity in the Lover and Healer of their souls.

Christmas – 26 Dec 2011

The Light has come, and the daylight begins to push away the darkness of winter days.  Spring must be in the air!

From the beginning till the end of the year, our Lord and God watches over His people and His land! (Dt 11:12)  God ‘found’ His Sabbath rest in His Son, who came to bring the old order of things to an end that the light of a new way and day could be brought to mankind.

At our Shabbat service, we celebrated the Festival of Lights, giving priority to the true Light who is eternal that came into the world to push back the darkness, over the temporal Hanukah lights of candles or oil which must be continually watched over to remain lit before they eventually do burn out.  As is our custom, we lit all of the candles on the hanukia (the menora or lampstand of Hanukah), as a visual testimony to the truth that the full light of God has come into the world through His Son, and He has made us light in the darkness).  The Lord’s Supper was also a wonderful part of the service — remembering Yeshua’s death until He comes. 

Being that we have many different cultures and languages among our congregation of Yeshua’s Inheritance, there was a presentation of songs by some of the different groups — such as Hebrew, Spanish, English, Russian, Korean, Burmese.  That which began at Pentecost with different tongues all praising the living God together has grown and increased to multitudes of redeemed people from out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation by the blood of the Lamb, singing a new song to Yeshua who was slain to bring us to God the Father.  Hallelu-Yah!  Amen! (Rev 5:9)

With these two universally known Hebrew words — both of which speak of the true God and Savior (Rev 3:14) — we visited Bethlehem yesterday on Christmas Day with two other families from our congregation, and some medical students and other friends.  We went first to an Evangelical Church, where we have been going since 2003 — during the Intifada — as an expression of the reconciliation which we have through the cross, even though our peoples continue to be in a perpetual state of hostility with each other.

At the Arab church there I was asked to share some introductory words from my heart, and spoke of the hope we all have through the gospel, which includes that Jesus will come back again to bring the Kingdom of God to Israel and the rest of the world.  Political solutions will not satisfy the need for the righteousness of God, the peace which He gives, and joy in the Holy Spirit.  At the end of the service, I was asked to bless the elders and the church with the priestly blessing in Hebrew, the language of the ‘enemy’.  I gently reminded the brothers and sisters there to remember that the name of YEHOVAH God is still upon His people Israel, and asked them to pray for the Jewish Israeli people to honor His name and of His Son.  Then I blessed them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  It was a very special time, and I thank the Lord that the pastor took the risk (and it is a risk!) to ask me for this honor.

After the service, we all (13 adults and 5 children) had a wonderful lunch at his home.  Then we went over to Beit Al Liqa — the extraordinary facility of the children’s ministry (of all ages) in Beit Jala.   http://www.beitliqa.org/eng/eng_home_page.html   There we enjoyed our final legendary hospitality of the rainy day, and were able to see how the work is still developing.  It was a very encouraging day, which only the Spirit of Messiah knows how to do!

INVENTIONS, HISTORY, HYPOCRISY – 11 Dec 2011

Yesterday, in an interview on a U.S. cable network, Newt Gringrich, a Republican Presidential candidate, said that the Palestinian people are “invented”.  This, of course, raised an outcry from Palestinian Arab political, religioius, and intellectual leaders.

After all the claims by Palestinians delegitimizing Israel’s right to exist, the Islamic repudiation of any Jewish history connected to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, and the denial even by many (if not most) Palestinian Arab Christians of God’s everlasting covenants connected with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob and their posterity . . . it is the utmost hypocrisy for them to call “despicable” and “very racist” the remarks made by Gringrich regarding their identity and history.

Israel and the Jewish people have a long recorded history written in the whole of the Bible, and also in extra-Biblical sources.  The Israeli people from the beginning has never been about a “pure race or bloodline”:  there has always been mixture, yet with a clear sense of belonging to and identity with this particular people and nation.  This has been so in religion and peoplehood, for Israel’s existence comes from YHVH God Himself.

I know many Palestinian evangelical believers in Yeshua as Lord and Messiah, yet who do not know where they come from or who they are — other than to say that they are Palestinian Arabs, because their families were born in Palestine — a name given to the Land of Israel by the Romans after the final Jewish revolt in 132 AD, a name which derives from the Philistia (Philistines), and which means ‘invaders’ in the Hebrew Holy Spirit-inspired Scriptures.

These brothers in Messiah/Christ admit to not agreeing that they are necessarily Semites (from Noah’s son, Shem), which would mean that they are not then sons of Abraham.  They do not accept necessarily that they are sons of Ishmael — which of course they would not be if not sons of Abraham.  They do not accept any lineage with Esau/Edom.  They do not know who they are, but accept being a mixed race (which the word ‘Arab’ actually implies — ‘mixture’), and want us Israeli Jewish believers to be confused as to who we are, too, since we are also mixed through intermarriage with Gentiles.  (Again, Biblically, there has always been mixture within Israel, yet still an identifiable nation with detailed genealogies over centuries and thousands of years, one of the proofs as to who Jesus Christ is in the flesh.)

Apart from the Biblical record in the Old and the New Testaments, there will always be ‘inventions’ and confusion if we ignore the truth, and for those who do believe in Jesus as the Messiah and the Son of God, the Bible is supposed to our primary source for information, and the Scriptures are written for us living at the end of the age.

Judaism and the Jewish people also attempt to revise and re-write history with respect to the truth of who Yeshua/Jesus is and of His resurrection.  Islam and Muslims in their holy book, the Koran, have re-written history connected with the name of the true God, with Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac, with Jesus being the Son of God the Father, with His virgin birth and His death and resurrection.  Christians have gone beyond what is written in showing hostility toward the Jewish people and God’s faithfulness to restore them to favor in the Land of Israel which He promised long ago to be an everlasting possession, but not a “Jews only” state.  Even Jewish believers in Yeshua are not without inventions, not willing to accept many truths which the Holy Spirit has taught the predominantly Gentile church over the last 2000 years.

Stereotypes such as all Jews are Christ killers; or all Christians are anti-Semites; or all Muslims are terrorists are not helpful when true disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ are taught to speak the truth in righteousness and in love.  Most inventions of the mind or of lying spirits are an effort to give dignity and significance to ourselves or to our nation or our religious beliefs, especially when we think God or history writing has been “unbalanced”.  Just as the serpent beguiled Eve to think that she would be like God through disobeying Him, so is it foolish human pride seeking to find purpose and value through any thing other than the truth of the God who created us, spoke concerning callings and destinies of many peoples, and loves us to give us living hope of glory through repentance from our unbelief and rebellion towards faith in Him and His Word.

In this season when the birth of the King of the Jews and the Savior of the world is traditionally celebrated — especially by believers who can worship God in Spirit and truth — let us remember that Jesus died asking the Father to forgive us, especially for being ignorant of all that we have done and still do against Yehovah, and against His Anointed One.  He is coming again, and will bring righteous judgment against all who oppose Him and those upon whom is His goodwill.

DO YOU LOVE JESUS?

I went to a website of someone who had written a book I found very interesting, and was shocked to see that he had left the faith, and was even defending his fall as  ‘being set free’.  Not only does he forsake the God of the Bible – whom before he had praised – but also denies that there is any God at all!  In this truly is the Scripture fulfilled, “Professing to be wise, they became fools. . .” (Rom 1:22)

This man gave two primary reasons why he decided that he no longer believed in the God of the Bible – both the O.T. and the N.T.:  because God required that the Israelis kill all men, women, children, and animals under certain conditions (Dt 20:16).  His complaint was not only in the killing itself, but that God told them to do it rather than doing it Himself:  why should God have His own people take vengeance in such a way?!  The second reason why this man apostasized is that he claims that, despite promises of Jesus, God does not really answer prayers for even believers.

Many people have written this man on his blog, trying to reason with him, but he has defended his position and attacked as blind faith and foolish those who would believe in such a God.

DO YOU LOVE GOD?  DO YOU LOVE JESUS?

There are many hard sayings in the Bible for us to understand or to accept easily.  I know believers who are uncomfortable with some of the things God does – or does not do.  I have heard those who say they are believers question whether the God of the Old Testament is the same God as of the New!  Then which God is Jesus the Son of? Is your faith challenged when you are uncomfortable with the thoughts and ways of the God who claims to be the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth?

Lk 19:22-23   In this parable which Jesus told, there was a servant who did not like King of the kingdom, who had left him responsible to “do business (occupy) till I come”.  What did this King answer to such a servant of his?:  “Out of your own mouth I will judge you, wicked servant.  You knew that I was an austere man, collecting what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow.  Why then did you not put my money in the bank, that at my coming I might have collected it with interest?”

There are at least two other very hard sayings of Jesus which challenged those who would be His disciples:
Lk 14:25-27   ‘Now great multitudes went with Him.  And He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.  And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple”’.

When the requirement of loving Jesus above all is twisted to mean to actually hate those naturally closest to us, it contradicts other clear and equally radical statements of Jesus to not only love your neighbor as yourself, but also to love even our enemies.  What He is saying is not, “Dad, Mom, I love Jesus and hate you!”, but more like, “Dad, Mom, I love you, but love Jesus even more.” 

To carry our cross, on the other hand, is to say that we are sentenced to death!  And who wants to live a life like that in order to be a disciple of Jesus?  Many of the multitudes that were following Jesus apparently did not want to!

The other hard saying is recorded in Jn 6:53-56,60,66:  ‘Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.  Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.  For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed.  He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me and I in him.”’

Even ‘many of His disciples’ said, ‘This is a hard saying; who can understand it?!’  “And from that many of His disciples went back [to their old life] and walked with Him no more.”

Jesus asked those closest to Him – the twelve apostles, “Do you also want to go away”? (v. 67)  But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.  And we have come to believe and know that You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God!

Do we believe and know?  What does the prophet Habakkuk have to help us when we struggle with the ways of the God who loves us?  (Hab 3:16-19)  “When I heard, my body trembled; my lips quivered at the voice; rottenness entered my bones; and I trembled in myself, that I might rest in the day of trouble.  When he comes up to the people, he will invade them with his troops.  Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls – yet I will rejoice in YHVH, I will joy in the God of my salvationYHVH God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer’s, and He will make me walk on my high hills.”

Our God is holy.  There is no one like Him, and it does not matter whether we understand everything or not.  But the God of the Bible is the ONLY God who is the REDEEMER of His creation and of sinful men.  “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us”. (1Jn 3:16)  THIS God – our God and Savior – came and died a horrible death.  He came in the Person of Jesus Christ, and took full responsibility for ‘the way things are’.  We accused Him of being a criminal; we did to Him what we thought of Him, and of His ‘way’. 

Jesus asked the Father to forgive us for we knew not what we did, and the Holy Spirit calls on men everywhere to repent, and receive this grace by which we stand in hope of eternal life.  Do we find ourselves retreating from abiding in Jesus when people accuse Him of being in any way evil; or are we willing to die for Him – to lose our own life or reputation – for Him who alone would come down to us to be crucified in our place in order to reconcile us to this God who is an awesome God, and a consuming fire?

As we take the Lord’s Supper together, let us examine and judge ourselves – and check our hearts – if we really do love Jesus – because we do believe and know Him who has brought us back home to our Father in Heaven.